Sunday, 23 November 2014

Has Canada become boorish?

At the time of typing up of this entry, the Harper Government is announcing "Road to Mental Readiness"—apparently, "new" funding for war vets' mental health program (a thinly veiled, highly cynical bid for re-election as everyone knows). Given Harper's track record for the treatment of our society's most vulnerable—including and especially—our military's wounded and broken, we can already expect lapsed funding given that Michael Blais (an out-spoken veterans' advocate who has a blog: says right after the announcement that this comes from a government that has fought tooth-and-nail to be recognized in courts that it has no constitutional obligation, no "social contract/covenant", to care for our war vets.

It is bad enough that the Harper Government has had to be shamed into making this announcement.

According to Michael Harris' Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada's Radical Makeover, Stephen Harper is third generation admirer of all things military. Neither his grandfather nor his father nor Stephen Harper himself have ever gone further than military wannabes—I'd surmise that actually enlisting into active service would break the spell. But one can rightly imagine these Harper men (during wars of their generation) goose-stepping around the house, imposing regimentation on their unfortunate charges, pontificating on the nobility of military service when not actually telling "war stories".


It is truly ironic that a self-avowed military/historical buff would spurn not only our military but also the actual field in which a military force would carry the stick. Here is a quote from Harris' Party of One:

As a politician, this prime minister seems to look out from a kind of intellectual suburbia onto a cosmopolitan world that is poorly understood, uninteresting, and perhaps even unimportant to him except in terms of the economic opportunities it provides. It is his instinctive position. When Harper was a Reform MP, Preston Manning tried to broaden his acolyte's horizons by introducing him to the virgin territory of foreign affairs. Harper balked. "One thing that did surprise me about Stephen as an MP. He had no interest in international stuff," Manning told me. "We simply couldn't get him to travel."

Perhaps it was Harper's parochial bent; perhaps it was a deeply ingrained mistrust of international politics, diplomacy, or leaders with different views than himself. whatever the reason, soon after winning his majority government in 2011, Stephen Harper became the proverbial skunk at the diplomatic garden. (Harris 2014, p.218)

Harper certainly cops a good line that, though hardly ever original, is always peppered with value-laden terms: duty, a strong Canada, an energy superpower, patriotism, etc. But all this comes from a man that Preston Manning says: "Stephen doesn't think words mean very much".

Heaven forbid that an actual big-leaguer like Putin should ever call us out on Harper's rhetoric: Harper has so far been proven an inept leader when it comes to military procurement especially when his rhetoric on the Canadian Arctic has not translated at all into actually producing the ice-breakers to monitor and enforce our claims to not only the Northwest Passage but the North Pole no less.

Harper definitely has "book knowledge" but it seems nothing more than an impressive talent for rote memorization of required reading without much understanding of the real implications and applications of the briefing. As I said: Boorish.


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