20 March 2009

Stephen Harper's Forgotten Speech

In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.
To think only five years have passed since 20 March 2004, the day Stephen Harper took the reigns of the new Conservative Party. What a short, strange trip it's been: the In and Out Scam, the Bernier Affair, NAFTAgate and, just this week, a Science Minister who equates evolution with one's choice in footware. Setting aside the prorogation of Parliament, next to which all else seems so very trivial, my favourite moments came courtesy of the Canadian Press and their rather late discovery of a 1997 Stephen Harper speech delivered somewhere in Montreal to the American Council for National Policy.

Choosing not to rely on John Howard's words, the former Young Liberal, ex-Progressive Conservative, one-time Reform MP and future leader of two further political parties delivers a fairly unfocussed piece of oratory. Still, the speech presents such a very sharp image of someone who thinks little of his country and finds his fellow citizens ignorant. Here is a man who looks to the republic to the south and its conservative movement as 'a light and an inspiration'.

At first it seemed the address, uncovered mid-way through the 2006 federal election, might do significant damage. The Council was quick to remove the speech from its website, and strategist Tim Powers fielded questions. Harper was silent. The fourth estate paid a bit of attention; but then came Christmas, after which attention was diverted by RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli and some unfounded allegations against Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale. Harper's address has since been all but ignored - CBC.ca dropped the text long ago - leaving all sorts of questions unanswered. Never mind our Prime Minister's relationship to the Council for National Policy, we don't even even know just where or when the speech was delivered.

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