Monday, October 26, 2015

Just Not Ready? The Defeat of Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper | CanadianFlyboy

'Just Not Ready' is the slogan Stephen Harper used against Justin Trudeau in Canada's election campaign. Though false, the ad seemed to be clever in the beginning, but its frequent repetition  annoyed many Canadian voters as it smacked of arrogance - a trait well entrenched in the soon to be former Prime Minister. Justin Trudeau's very effective response to it also literally demolished any impact the ad may have had made in earlier days. But that was not the main cause of Harper's defeat.

There were a number of factors that contributed to it. Harper ran a secretive Government, where he held all the cards close to his chest. Even members of his own party were not allowed to speak their mind, instead they were instructed to stick to talking points issued by PM office. After the October 19 defeat, several Conservative party members have openly criticized Harper for his handling of elections. Suddenly, it is as if an Iron Curtain has been lifted.

It is understood that early on, Harper instructed the bureaucrats to call the Canadian Government the Harper Government as if it was his personal fiefdom. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) became the main power centre, where some of the alleged crooked deal for Senator Duffy were cooked and concealed from the public. Nine years earlier, Harper had come in with a promise for a transparent and clean Government, what he delivered was the opposite. He promised to reform the Senate, but despite having a majority, he did nothing. Instead he stuffed the Senate with 56 appointees, many of whom his cronies, who proved to be incompetent and some are currently facing criminal charges.

In recent months, he passed two laws which are out and out draconian. Bill C51 & Bill C24. Canadians like to feel safe, but they do not want their freedoms restricted by Patriot Act like Bill C51. Thankfully Trudeau has promised to change it and remove offending clauses. Bill C24 is another story. This is the single most disastrous legislation brought about by Harper through his Citizenship Minister, Chris Alexander, whereby the Minister anointed himself as the prosecutor, judge, jury and the executioner. Any dual citizen suspected of terrorism can be stripped of Canadian citizenship by the Minister without any hearing or appeal and Minister's decision cannot be challenged in any court of Law. Hopefully Trudeau will make it an early priority to repeal this grotesque law.

Harper's Citizenship Minister, Chris Alexander who introduced the single most disastrous piece of legislation in the form of Bill C24.

Over nine years, Harper's missteps were many. Ignoring China earlier on, and not promoting trade agreements with China & India, missing trade opportunities for Canadian Companies, the unnecessary fight with United Arab Emirates over landing rights, getting involved in a war in Libya, which handed the country over to terrorists and getting involved in an unwinnable war in Syria. Harper lost 90% of his cases in the Supreme Court, mainly because citizens challenged some of his actions or laws introduced by him. Instead of learning lessons from his mistakes he resorted to maligning the Chief Justice and the Canadian Supreme Court. But that backfired on him fairly swiftly and thank God someone put some sense into him to back off from that suicidal course.

In the end Canadians yearned for a change and as many as 70% wanted to see Harper out. They delivered and defeated him in a substantial manner.

The core of the problem for the Conservative Party of Canada is that instead maintaining a Centre Right posture, it has been hijacked by the extreme right Reform Party. Harper and his Reform Group almost completely sidelined the true Conservatives. One hopes, the real Conservatives will step forward and retake their party. Canada needs an effective and an organized opposition. It is time for Conservatives to distance themselves from the Harper era and rebuild their party in a way that it  represents true Canadian values.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


When Mr. Harper took reins of power in 2006, his Government comprised politicians most of whom had no previous ministerial experience. This showed up in Foreign Policy as potentially one of largest trading partners –China, was ignored for nearly eighteen months. China was on the rise then and very keen to bond with Canada on matters of trade, but then Foreign Minister took a position which was not consistent with Canada’s economic interests and values and a huge opportunity for a trade deal was lost.
Russia_China_Gas_Deal_400_Billion(picture courtesy:
Oil/Gas deal of the Century that should have been Canada's, but for failure of Stephen Harper's foreign policy
... dollar: $400 B China-Russia Gas <b>Deal</b> is Official! |

The unnecessary kerfuffle with United Arab Emirates led by John Baird over additional landing rights for UAE’s two world class airlines, resulted in Canada being unceremoniously dispatched from a free air base in Dubai, which served as an important back up for Canadian armed forces in Afghanistan. Moving the air base to Cyprus cost Canadian taxpayers nearly $300 million and on top of that UAE slapped visa requirement on Canadian citizens. Fortunately Mr. Baird came to senses later and made up with the UAE Government, the visa requirement was then withdrawn.

(picture courtesy:
The argument forwarded at the time was that increased flights by UAE airlines will hurt Air Canada in the future. Harper Government could have turned the landing rights request into a win win by asking UAE airlines to place a good size order for Bombardier's struggling new C series aircraft in exchange for extra landing rights. After all the U.S. President pushes Boeing aircraft on his foreign visits. UAE's two airlines are amongst the largest in the world and an order for 50 or 100 planes could have lifted Bombardier into becoming a major civilian aircraft maker in the world.

One of the biggest setbacks suffered by Harper Government’s foreign policy was the defeat at Security Council elections. Never before had Canada suffered such humiliation as whenever it was up for election, it always won the Security Council seat with good margins. The defeat was merely a reflection of how the world perceived Canada under Mr. Harper.

Canada has always been held in high esteem by the world, it has been considered a fair player and a promoter of peace around the world. Harper Government’s aggressive pro Israel one sided policy did considerable damage to Canada’s neutrality. Its total lack of humanitarian concern for Palestinians did not play well in many countries of the world including some in Europe. The loss of Security Council seat first time ever, may well have been a reaction to such policies.

Canada’s oil boom over the last several years has served Canadian economy well. When Harper Government came to power in 2006, Canada was in an ideal position to tie up long term oil supply contracts with China, but that potential was never realized. Oil pipelines to East & West Coast were not built. Lapsed time and lack of Captainship on the part of the Government increased obstacles in the way of building pipelines. Instead of Canada, Russia ended up signing that $400 billion oil supply contract with China. Also, when Ukraine erupted, a pipeline to east coast would have put Canada in an ideal position to replace Russia as the oil supplier to Western Europe. Harper Government’s total focus on the virtually doomed XL pipeline to U.S. tantamount to putting all eggs in one basket. The focus on this pipeline was at the cost of eastern and western pipelines.

In the nine years of Harper Government, several trade deals could have been negotiated and signed, especially with China and India two of the world’s top five economies, but no progress was made in that direction. However, to give full credit to Mr. Harper, the European Trade deal is a success, though it is not a done deal yet and any of the nineteen members can veto it. Chances are, it will go through eventually, but the benefit will be claimed by the next Prime Minister.

It is too early to judge the benefits of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) just signed, but it certainly has angles that may harm Canada’s economy, especially auto and agricultural sectors. Also, there is no certainty that U.S. Congress will pass it, so it could die before it is born. The deal has been led and driven by President Obama, who made Mr. Harper look like a silent spectator. U.S. cut a side deal with Japan leaving Canada out of the conversation and more importantly President Obama also cut a side deal with Mexico on auto parts, leaving Canada out of the equation. There was a time when Canada would have been in the forefront of such negotiations and neither U.S. nor any other country would have dared relegate Canada to this status.

So, on balance Harper Government’s Foreign Policy has been a failure. The long term impact of Canada’s isolation will translate into poor performance of Canadian economy, which is already facing the consequence of low oil prices.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


'The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

1. The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members. 

4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations'.

U.S., Canada & Europe's interference in Syria runs contrary to the U.N. Charter. Nowhere in the Charter, members are permitted 'regime changes' in other countries.  President Assad's brutal regime is not the business of United States or its allies. It is a problem for the Syrian people.

President Putin's actions by default may offer a way out to the U.S. from the mess it created in Syria. Instead of protesting, it may be better to let him destroy ISIS and and anti Assad rebels, so this unholy civil war comes to an end. Ultimately, it is for the Syrian people not the United States to decide if a regime change is required.

This is not the first time U.S. has violated the U.N. charter. It invaded Iraq illegally, overthrew Qaddafi in Libya under the guise of 'no fly zone' and helped overthrow an elected Government in Egypt.  Some say U.S. did all this on Israel's behest. True or not, the outcome of these actions have been disastrous. The entire Middle East has been destabilized. Iraq is fractured probably beyond repair, Egypt has a draconian dictator who has sent thousands of protesters to the gallows, Libya is run by a bunch of terrorists and Syria is in turmoil.

Over ten years since U.S. started its actions in the Middle East, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in Iraq, Syria & Libya, many times more than the tyrants rulers of those countries killed over forty years. Iraq alone caused five million refugees and a third of Syrian population is refugee now.  

U.S. accomplishments to date are:
A fractured Iraq:
Picture courtesy

A Libya controlled by a bunch of terrorists:
Libya’s turmoil is an increasing concern for EU leaders as ISIS ...
Picture courtesy

A Syria destroyed causing massive refugee crisis.
... International » Record half a million refugees reach Europe this year
picture courtesy

A splintered Afghanistan after 12 year occupation & tragedies like the Kunduz Hospital bombing.
... Latest: Moon condemns deadly Kunduz hospital bombing - The Denver Post picture courtesy

Surely, this is not  the outcome U.S. had in mind before launching these wars. Still it begs the question, why have they learned no lessons and why do they keep making the same mistakes over and over?