While a mere teenager when Richard Nixon was elected to a second term, Stephen Harper had found a mentor. A few decades later, empowered by a majority in parliament, the now Canadian Prime Minister is putting early inspirations into action.
Nixon spent his early years working as an ardent anti-communist and red-baiter. However, when the unprincipled politician sensed an opportunity for personal aggrandizement, he organized an eight-day television extravaganza in China, calling his visit, “The week that changed the world.” Of course, it was little more than America’s acceptance of the 23-year old outcome of the Chinese civil war.
Harper too spent his early years in politics looking for reds under beds, railing frequently against socialism, taxation, medicare and offences to fundamentalist social values. After Rob Anders called Nelson Mandela “a communist and terrorist,” Harper said the Calgary MP was a true conservative and faithful supporter.
However, when China came looking to spread billions among Canadian energy magnates — the patrons providing financial muscle to Harper throughout his political career — Canada’s Conservative leader was keen to facilitate Chinese efforts. Suddenly, sending North America’s natural resources to fuel the already massive Asian economy became a Canadian priority. When dealing with energy exports, Harper reworked an old Mackenzie King line so that it came out, “Not necessarily pro-communist but pro-communist if necessary.”
In part of another parallel, Nixon kept American soldiers in southeast Asia to conduct warfare that had little value or purpose for U.S. citizens. Years later, Harper behaved similarly, stationing young Canadians in Afghanistan to kill and be killed until his government ended combat action there after losing interest in the war, despite a record number of Afghan civilian deaths in 2011. Injured taxpayers along with families of dead and wounded Canadians are left to wonder if this war is not worth fighting now, was it ever worth fighting.
When bothered by opponents, Nixon’s administration promised in writing to “use the available federal machinery” to make trouble for “our political enemies.” By that, the White House meant the Internal Revenue Service, which had a unit of special service staff that had been investigating critics of Nixon and his policies.
Writing about recent actions and warnings to environmentalists and other dissidents by the Harper Government, Rafe Mair disclosed an analogous threat to him by the Conservative Party of Canada. Mair recalled the situation in Enbridge, Harper and Consequences for Speaking Out:
“Did Prime Minister Harper threaten Tides Canada with “consequences” if they didn’t stop funding supporting campaigns – specifically that of ForestEthics – against the Enbridge Pipeline project?
“ForestEthics says so, which is enough to have all Canadians, no matter what their stance on this issue or others, demand the Prime Minister make it clear that all Canadians, subject to the Criminal Code of Canada, have a constitutional right to say what they please on all issues, big and small – without consequences.
“I have had experience with this. Back in 1992, when the Mulroney government was shoving the Charlottetown Accord at us, I was one of a very few people in the media that was opposed and said so with a passion.
“One day my “mole” in the Conservative caucus – and at the same time a national media person – told me that Mulroney was going to retaliate against me by having me face a tax audit. I went on the air the following morning and reported this on the hope that this would discourage such a threat. Whether it worked or not I cannot say – I can say that no such audit was ordered.”