September 3, 2016
The opportunity to express pride in having lived under the stewardship of any statesman is a rarity. Especially today, in an era where political leaders prioritize their self-aggrandizement over the state of their countries.
Just as I write this column, Canada’s sitting Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is busy doing…. as the New York Times put it this morning, “Justin Trudeau Is on the Cover of a Marvel Comic Book. He Is Now a King Among Memes”. Meanwhile, in the real world, Bashar Al-Assad is carrying out chemical attacks in Syria.
In contrast, Canada’s former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has just been awarded The Order of Liberty — of Ukraine’s highest honors — as recognition for his foreign policy and unwavering determination to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Seldom before Harper had Canada’s foreign policy been so clear and resolute. Under Stephen Harper, we sent a message to the world that left nothing to speculation. Canada stands by its allies, and will fight to defend their sovereignty no matter the cost.
Even before assuming office a decade ago, Harper had made it clear that under his tutelage, politics would not precede our moral duties. He famously said, “This party will not take its position based on public opinion polls. We will not take a stand based on focus groups. We will not take a stand based on phone-in shows or householder surveys or any other vagaries of public opinion.”
Back in 2004 — just prior to becoming Prime Minister — Harper was the leading voice in Canada’s official recognition of the Ottoman Turks’ systematic extermination of 1.5 million Christian Armenians.
Meanwhile Liberal Party leader and then Prime Minister, Paul Martin was not only absent from the vote, he actually ordered his cabinet to vote against the recognition of the Armenian genocide. (Nothing says progressive-liberal like genocide denial, right?)
Stephen Harper was the first Canadian Prime Minister in history to speak to the Israeli Knesset, where he famously said, “The friendship between us is rooted in history, nourished by shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of strongly held inner convictions.”
Harper finally put to rest decades of asinine Liberal government policies which treated Israel and the Palestinians, bent on their utter annihilation, as moral equals.
When US President, Barrack Obama fervently negotiated and signed the Iran Deal, selling out our allies in the Jewish State to the Mullahs as they chanted “Death to the West!” Harper was an outspoken critic, promising to maintain and double down on sanctions against the terror-sponsoring Iranian regime.
When Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s expansionist ambitions finally translated to invading our pro-Western ally Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Harper was there again, spearheading the effort to have Russia booted from the G7. Shaking hands with the former KGB agent, Harper told Putin to his face, “get out of Ukraine”.
Although true that Canada has never been a major player on the world stage when compared to the United States (we have Pierre Trudeau to thank for that), under Harper we were always on the world stage nonetheless. We did our part, and there was no doubt where Canada stood.
Gone were the days of the Canadian armed forces being “peace keepers”, running around the world selling Boy Scout Cookies. We were proud of our men and women in uniform, and the work they did abroad.
We were modernizing and expanding our military. With Harper’s support for the F-35 fighters, our aging air force would follow suit. We sent troops to Ukraine, and in line with our NATO obligations, we were part of the US-led military coalition to bomb ISIS into the deepest chasms of hell.
Back home in Canada, national security was at the forefront of Harper’s domestic agenda. A supporter of legislation aimed at keeping Canadians safe — the whole raison d’être of the federal government — Harper gave law enforcement the tools they need to combat terrorism.
Domestically, on economic issues, Harper led Canada through the global recession, resulting in one of the strongest recoveries of any developed nation. In fact, Canada outperformed every other country in the G7 in net job creation and economic growth.
Harper cut taxes, reduced the size and scope of the federal government and as promised, delivered balanced budgets. In efforts to allow Canadians to keep more of their earned income, Harper’s government created the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA).
Globally, Stephen Harper was immensely successful in negotiating trade agreements, opening our markets to freer trade. Harper pursued and effectively negotiated free trade agreements with more than 40 nations and was a strong supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Nowthat’s someone who’s great at making deals, Donald Trump)
Harper’s government was virtually scandal-free, despite the liberal media’s best attempts, amid the last election, at concocting inane Senate spending sprees, and spinning them to appear as if Harper had just sold nuclear secrets to the Russians. Even the far-left Toronto Star had to print out the headline, “Mike Duffy Cleared on All Charges of Defrauding the Senate”.
True moral leaders replete with political acumen, integrity and the fortitude to stand for their values in the face of opposition are hard to come by. For nearly a decade, we had Stephen Harper, who understood that although there are never easy answers, there is always a simple answer. To do what is morally right. In his own words, Stephen Harper said; “I believe very strongly that in this world you have to have values and you have to stand up for your interests and if you don’t do those things you’re not going to get anywhere.”
And so, farewell to Stephen Harper, as he officially withdraws from politics this week, resigning his seat in the House of Commons. Canadians will miss you, even if they don’t know it.