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Harper Tories (re)make history

John Bell

October 5, 2012

Our glorious Harper Tories are busy making history. And when they aren’t making it, they are rewriting it.
Let us begin with the top Tory himself. Harper’s chest was puffed out as he proudly accepted the “Statesman of the Year” award in New York.
In a glowing tribute, former recipient of the award and convicted war criminal Henry Kissinger told the gala audience: “Prime Minister Harper has played a very important role by developing his own views, having the courage to affirm them, even when they are not shared by all the consensuses that exist, and being proved correct by events.”
If the prerequisite for winning “Statesman of the Year” is giving the stiff middle finger to pretty much everybody (“all the consensuses that exist” does take in a lot of territory), then Harper deserves it. However, a bit of investigation reveals an even more important quality: unswerving support for Israel.
Harper wasn’t shy about it: “It is important to state that whatever Israel’s shortcomings, neither its existence nor its policies are responsible for the pathologies present in that part of the world.”
There’s that rewriting history thing. Opposition to Zionism is a “pathology.” And if Israel’s state policies are exempted from its shortcomings, what does that leave? Crappy pop music? Poor interior decorating? Just forget the fact that it is illegally occupying Palestinian territory, engaging in ethnic cleansing and recreating the crimes of apartheid. Move along, nothing to see here.
So let’s move on to Mr. Harper’s Tory acolytes.
Minister of Censorship and Deportation
Harper’s far-right hand man, Jason Kenney has been busy making history. In the space of a few days he: ignored the pleas of tens of thousands of Canadians and deported war resister Kim Rivera; sent a mass spam email to members of the LGBT community attempting to pinkwash the most anti-gay government in modern history; put himself at the head of a sizeable contingent of Tories who would deny women the right to control their own bodies; and invited a pair of white supremacists to an immigration policy hearing.
For the sake of brevity, let’s focus on Kenney the champion of gay rights. As an MP, first for the Reform Party and then for Harper’s Tories, he has consistently opposed every extension of LGBT rights, such as same-sex marriage. He supports gutting Human Rights tribunals where complaints about homophobia are heard. He opposes treating gay bashing as a hate crime.
Small wonder the LGBT community reacted in horror and disgust to his attempt to enlist them in his drive to war.
Speaking of rewriting history, recall that Immigration Minister Kenney ordered the removal of all references to gay rights from his revamped Citizenship Handbook; then lied about ordering the erasure; then was forced to backtrack by popular anger.
Racism and war
Making history simply by being the most repugnant individual sitting in Canada’s parliament is Calgary West MP Rob Anders.
Rob was the only MP to vote against bestowing honourary citizenship on Nelson Mandela, denouncing him as “a communist and a terrorist,” and waxing nostalgic about the good old days of South African apartheid.
Before ascending to parliament, Rob used to hire out south of the border to the Republican Party as a professional heckler. In 1997 the Tulsa World newspaper described him as someone who “personifies the bad taste, deception, right-wing extremism and mean spirit that have poisoned the whole election process this year.”
Anders loudly supports war-making. But when it comes to supporting veterans, well, not so much. As an appointee to the Veterans Affairs Committee, Anders arrived at a meeting dealing with homelessness among vets and promptly fell asleep. When several veterans complained, Rob denounced them as “communists” and “NDP hacks.” Turns out they were local Conservative riding association members. He no longer sits on that committee.
Perhaps Rob’s stint as a right-wing zealot in the US left him with a confused sense of history. How else can we explain his recent constituency newsletter celebrating the bi-centennial of the War of 1812. This, according to Rob, is the war that gave us the “principles of freedom, liberty and volunteer military service” that have “guided us through the last 10 years of warfare against Islamic terrorism.”  As usual, Rob refuses to hide his racism.
Comparing a virtual civil war between 19th century neighbours with modern imperialism’s “war on terror” is simply delusional. Equally appalling is Anders’ attempt to graft National Rifle Association talking points onto Canadian history. Anders writes: “The War of 1812 … gave strength to the Canadian militia movement and to the notion of a citizens (sic) duty to bear arms for the defence of the nation.”
In fact the War of 1812 proved the exact opposite. The vast majority of Upper Canada’s non-native population were either recent immigrants from the US —and so judged untrustworthy by colonial British authorities—or members of pacifist religious groups like the Quakers, who refused to take up arms.
General Isaac Brock sneered at militias and demanded the imposition of martial law to terrorize them into obedience. British soldiers had to lock down all boats along the lakes to prevent them from deserting. “Had not this been done, one half of the people would have left the province, the fear of war was so great,” wrote one British administrator.
To their great credit most ordinary people on both sides of a very porous border wanted nothing to do with a war they deemed senseless. That is the real history of the War of 1812, and explains why four years of war resulted only in confusion and stalemate.
The Tories constantly convert real events past and present into crude, distorted propaganda points. Anders would denounce me as a communist for saying so. Hey, even Rob Anders can’t be wrong all the time.

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