About Stephen Harper’s ambassadorial timeshare: maybe he missed the lesson on the Statute of Westminster!

Canadian and British Joint-Embassy diplomats work out their timeshare arrangements. Below: The young Stephen Harper on the day he missed his history lecture after lingering too long over Atlas Shrugged; Perfesser Dave feeds lines to Opposition leader Tom Mulcair last weekend; Mr. Harper at the NCC.

Like Sir John A. Macdonald, a British subject I was born and now, apparently, a British subject I may die. What’s with that?

Or did I fail to get it right yesterday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his gang of so-called Conservatives have decided to give up he trappings of independent nationhood and, just as the Scots are about to head out for the Highlands, go in with the British on a joint-venture diplomatic service?

This has got to be the weirdest story of the long, weird Harper government. Who thought we’d ever see the leaders of a sovereign nation state, even this one, so glibly toss aside the trappings of sovereignty and nation statehood?

What’s next, a cheerful bon voyage et bon chance to Quebec? (Scary answer: Don’t bet against it.)

What gives with these guys, anyway? Sovereign countries run by sensible politicians don’t just volunteer to stop being countries, even a piece at a time – not, leastways, until after a sustained bombing campaign by the U.S. Air Force and the other occupants of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Preferred Customer Lounge, formerly known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

But Mr. Harper and his minister of foreign affairs, John Baird, have glibly done no less – all the while assuring us it’s just a cost-saving measure, doesn’t mean a thing, it’s simply a way to save Canada’s hard-working taxpayers a modest sum of free-floating Northern Credonias, or whatever the British-Icelandic-Canadian currency is called nowadays, by going back in with our previous colonial masters on their nice ambassadorial digs in Burkina Faso and what have you.

This prompted NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair to sound like he was channeling Perfesser Dave and riff that there’s plenty more the Harperites could do next. “Why stop at the embassies,” he wondered. “They could merge our armed forces. No wonder they’re so nostalgic for the war of 1812! Why not merge the Senate with the House of Lords? It’s the same difference. …” (It is true, Mr. Mulcair and the Perfesser chatted over the weekend at the Alberta NDP convention, but I can assure you they didn’t talk about diplomacy.)

Seriously, speaking of the War of 1812, was the young Stephen Harper so excited about that conflict that he missed the lesson on the Statute of Westminster?

The Statute of Westminster, for those of you who voted for Mr. Harper’s Conservative Party and may like him have missed that class, has nothing to do with the port up the Fraser River from the offices of the market-fundy “institute” of the same name. Rather, it was a law passed in the British House of Commons in 1931 that essentially established Canada and the other dominions of the British Empire as independent countries.

Among other things, the Statute of Westminster meant that never no more would our Canadian interests abroad have to be represented by the British Legation, even before prime minister Pierre Trudeau got us our own Constitution with an amending formula and everything. At least, that is, until Messrs. Harper and Baird came along.

So, seriously, people … are they nuts? The answer, I think, is probably yes. Let me explain.

Canadians and the citizens of other Western democracies that have been pushed relentlessly to the right for the past 30 or so years still count on their most right-wing politicians to entertain a certain amount of sensible hypocrisy when spouting their foolish bromides.

They can’t actually believe that nonsense, we tell ourselves after a night like the one in May 2011 on which Mr. Harper and his party finally got their coveted majority government, so they’ll probably run the place in a pretty sensible fashion.

It’s like in George Orwell’s 1984, the Party – and especially the Inner Party – isn’t supposed to consume the same tripe they spout over the Prolefeed. It’s supposed to understand the true Party agenda and vision (a boot stomping on a human face forever).

Now, in deference to my one-time supervisor at the Globe and Mail, Peggy Wente, I have to confess that I didn’t actually write the previous line myself, but pretty much stole it outright from a blog post economist Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times, just throwing in an extra word here and there to confuse the no-longer-so-anonymous blogger at Media Culpa. I just forgot to put quotation marks around it because I’m tired and have to get up in less than six hours and drive to Red Deer, and because, anyway, I don’t really care that I’m falling short of the Globe’s journalistic standards in terms of reasonable credit for the work of others because … oh, wait. I just provided reasonable credit!

Whatever… Don’t expect Ms. Wente to be punished very severely for her transgressions. She knows where most of the bodies are buried at the Globe, including who authorized the payments to Conrad Black for that column his driver used to bring her in his limo. (Really!)

Anyway, it’s kind of scary when you start unearthing bits of evidence that Mr. Harper might actually believe what he said back when he was the Top Dawg at the National Citizens Coalition (which, readers are reminded, isn’t national, doesn’t represent citizens and isn’t a coalition).

It’s sort of like finding out that Ronald Reagan was relying on a tarot card reader for advice and may have really believed it when he whispered into the microphone, “I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

Alert readers will recall Mr. Harper’s actual words to the NCC’s Colin Brown Memorial Dinner in 1994: “Whether Canada ends up as one national government, or two national governments or several national governments is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion. … And whether Canada ends up with one national government or two governments or 10 governments, the Canadian people will require less government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of any future country may be.”

In other words, yesterday’s embassy timeshare announcement suggests that Mr. Harper actually believes the kind of nutty tripe he spouts! He may sincerely be the pure, globalized market fundamentalist fruitcake that the more excitable residents of the tinfoil-hat-wearing corners of the blogosphere keep saying he is!

And if that’s the case, he really may not give a hang who represents us abroad, who owns all our bitumen or anything else – be it the British, the Chinese, the Americans, KPMG or Coca-Cola – as long as they share his market-fundamentalist convictions.

And if that’s really the case, we Canadians might just be advised to skid his loony government as quickly as possible while we still have a country!

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

7 Comments on "About Stephen Harper’s ambassadorial timeshare: maybe he missed the lesson on the Statute of Westminster!"

  1. the salamander says:

    You’re speaking of a political animal that’s discovered his majority government is getting a free ticket to ride from Canada’s mainstream media. Suddenly in complete charge of the farm (all bow down) there is no penalty for complete fabrication or distortion or abuse by himself or his wild eyed piggies. Yes.. I’m invoking Animal Farm now.. tho you.. as many do, fear its Orwell’s 1984 come to pass. (could it be both ?)

    I remind you via http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2207778-animal-farm-a-fairy-story .. especially “…out from the door of the farmhouse came a long file of pigs, all walking on their hind legs…out came Napoleon himself, majestically upright, casting haughty glances from side to side, and with his dogs gambolling round him”

    I cannot recall in the book, if Napoleon was naked but in my perception, Stephen Harper certainly is and he’s already been artfully painted that way. His chief hogs.. Ministers they call themselves, compete daily to emulate and echo the Alpha-Hog. Trumpeting omni-legislation, bafflegarbing in Parliament, Poison the wolves says Kent. China is the kindest most wonderful opportunity oinks Oliver. You stand with Child Pornographers! Baseless smears repeated ad infinitum by Del Mastro. Prorogue is Democracy-Oink-Harper. Asbestos is safe oinks Paradis! All jobs are good jobs grunts Flaherty. Just an accounting error! Environment is Bad! We love our soldiers (sometimes). God save the Queen-Oink-Harper! Lies are Truth! We must have F-35′s says Mackay! Bitumen is good, salmon are not! Fear the Muslims-Oink-Baird. Frack Quebec! Pensions for Pigs – not for people! God Save the Queen (again) Pipelines Uber Alles! Ottawalberta Forever! Lobbying is Holy! Oil is Ethical

    We have attained runaway Government as hyperbolic animal farm Farce.. the petro trough as high altar .. cue the snuffling oinker backbenchers… sooey .. sooey …. as the head hogs and alpha-hog stuff themselves into the front rows… and commence to grunt out their scripted scenes. Inane snouty grins all round at every piece of artful nonsense and piggly posturing. I’m not saying there isn’t a fine piggy trough history to politics in Canada.. there is. But we have never seen the likes of this porcine political disaster that is turning modern cyber and communications technology against Canada. A Political pig Party disguised as a government, making a criminal farce of democratic elections and dragging Parliament through such extreme and ludicrous chicanery that I wonder if they can succeed in making it obsolete… dysfunctional expect for their purposes.

    Stop Harper.. Stop the Pigs .. scrape out and disinfect The House of Commons pleeez. Really .. someone should open the gate and lead this jowly dismaying coalition cabal off to waiting trucks.

    Apologies to genus Sus .. the domestic pig.. or to its ancestral wild boar. I mean no disrespect. But I claim creative license in trying to illuminate or portray these secretive scheming political and ideological animals with zero accountability, far too fatheaded to be transparent, and interested only in Harper’s or their own interests. The Conservatives have somehow been allowed to pretend the pompous snorts and grunts of Harper, Baird, Oliver, Kenney, Mackay, Kent, Toews, Van Loan, Clement et al.. are supposed to ‘speak for Canada and Canadians’

    Put as much lipstick as you want on the Conservatives … let me know what you see

  2. Bruce says:

    “But, he’s such a nice young man”. “And you won’t know what hit you”.

    A grandmother’s sarcastic refrain

  3. rangerkim says:

    Yes!, finally David, you are on to something! We can tip toe around and pretend that polite people don’t do THOSE things or we can wipe the wool from our eyes and really see the monster for what it is.
    It’s interesting that the ‘Mericans are one steps ahead in the grand charade. The crazies running around in, and running the GOP are finally showing up for what they really are; mean-spirited, belligerent, ignorant and avaricious.

  4. Filostrato says:

    CBC News had a interview with William Hague yesterday. It was supposed to be a Hague/Baird double act, to which the both agreed, until Baird was “called to a meeting at the last minute”. I bet he was.

    Hague, in an accent I was trying hard to place until I finally pinned it as 100% Upper Class Twit (thank you, Monty Python) tried to smooth the ruffled feathers of concerned Canadians, personified in this case by Peter Mansbridge. Interesting facial expressions when he was confronted with the fact that Canada didn’t always go along with the U.K.’s imperial adventures – his reaction to the mention of Iraq looked like a well-supressed internal explosion – but I think there was more open conversation with Hague than I’ve ever heard with Baird. Is this a portent of the future, where we’ll trot off to the Brits to find out what’s happening here and elsewhere?

    The only thing we got from Baird was a sneer – a semi-permanent facial expression for him, I think – when Canadians concerned about the independence of their country were told not to worry their pretty little heads about it.

    As for Harper – two pictures, Mr. Climenhaga? Cruel and unusual punishment indeed.

  5. ronmac says:

    To reduce costs even further why not close overseas embassies altogether and just rent space from Goldman Sachs.

    These guys are just about everywhere these days, cooking up schemes.

    You`ll be hard pressed to find a gov`t minister or banker-in-chief who hasn`t worked for Goldman Sachs at one time or another. They’re pretty much running the show now, turning the global economy into one vast bookie joint.

    So our embassy staff will be close to the action.

  6. fubar says:

    Well, unless the wheels come completely off the Harper government train we are stuck with them for a few more years. What an ugly thing to contemplate! There will be more pain, there will be more outright, barking at the moon craziness, and they will continue to make decisions on our behalf (legitimately).

    I can only hope for a peoples revolt (of the East German variety) where we take to the streets and force them out of power. Other than that, we are pretty much hooped.

  7. jerrymacgp says:

    Canada has what are quite likely the second most politically-unsophisticated voters of any democracy on Earth (the US has first place in this one). Canadian voters tend to be socially moderate, and at times even libertarian; they tend on the whole to be somewhat fiscally conservative, especially with respect to tax policy and so-called “government waste”, but OTOH tend to support a broad-based social safety net, and are passionately in favour of publicly-run health care, provided it is given the resources it needs to keep up with demand for services. But they do not examine the policies of the parties and candidates seeking their votes with very much scrutiny, and are easily taken in by modern political marketing tactics.

    The Harper Cons were not elected because the people approved of their policies, except when we look at the West and gun control. Instead, the Harper Cons successfully marketed their brand and smeared that of the Liberals, and to some extent that of the NDP as well. The result was that the Liberals, once almost invincible as Canada’s “Natural Governing Party”, were relegated to a 3rd place finish, with the NDP replacing them as the country’s 2nd choice. But the real story behind the NDP’s success was the fact that votes in Quebec tend to sit far to the left of TROC, but decided a sovereigntist party (the BQ) was no longer their best voice in Ottawa. Outside of Quebec, the NDP showing was much less encouraging, especially on the Prairies where our roots are.

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