On April 25, 2003, Stephen Harper appeared at a gathering of conservatives in Toronto brought together by the Civitas group.
He was leader of the Canadian Alliance party, a thankless job with little likelihood he could knock the governing Liberals from their perch.
But Harper’s speech that day, later reprinted in an essay, was remarkably prescient.
For anyone who cared to notice, it revealed how he would one day turn Canadian foreign policy on its head and, perhaps most notably, make this country the world’s most fervent ally of Israel.
Harper said Canada’s conservatives needed to “rediscover” the traditional conservatism of political philosopher Edmund Burke, which valued “social order,” custom and religious traditions.
“We need to rediscover Burkean conservatism because the emerging debates on foreign affairs should be fought on moral grounds,” said Harper.
“Current challenges in dealing with terrorism and its sponsors, as well as the emerging debate on the goals of the U.S. as the sole superpower, will be well served by conservative insights on preserving historic values and moral insights on right and wrong.”
Harper stressed that unlike the “modern left” — which had adopted a position of “moral neutrality” — conservatives understood “the notion that moral rules form a chain of right and duty, and that politics is a moral affair.”
He added: “We understand that the great geopolitical battles against modern tyrants and threats are battles over values.
“Conservatives must take the moral stand, with our allies, in favour of the fundamental values of our society, including democracy, free enterprise and individual freedom.”
Three years later, after an unanticipated meltdown of Liberal power, Harper was prime minister. He immediately launched an unshakeable foreign policy in support of Israel, beginning that summer when the Jewish state launched a military ground offensive into Lebanon to combat Hezbollah.
This summer, Harper is once again standing firmly by Israel — this time, as it responds to rocket fire from Hamas by pounding Gaza with air strikes and a ground offensive to punish the terrorist group and destroy a network of tunnels it has built to launch attacks into Israel.
More than 1,700 Palestinians, most of them non-combatant civilians, have been killed.
The United Nations Works and Relief Agency has accused Israel of committing a “serious violation” of international law after civilians were killed from the Israeli shelling of a UN designated building sheltering Palestinians, including many children.
By comparison, Harper has accused Hamas of being responsible for all the bloodshed.
Supporters praise him for his “clarity,” while critics castigate him for a simplistic approach to a complex issue. They say he has overlooked the aspirations of Palestinians who want their own homeland after decades of being mistreated by an “occupying power,” Israel.
What’s behind Harper’s thinking? What are its roots? Why is he so seemingly single-minded?
The questions perplex some Canadians and have spawned a range of theories.
Some purport that he has come under the influence of evangelical leaders who want him to defend Judeo-Christian heritage. Harper’s supporters scoff at the notion as groundless.
Others say it’s all about domestic politics — raising money from Jewish-Canadians for the Conservative Party and securing their vote.
The Tories helped feed that theory earlier this year when Harper brought many Tory MPs on his trip to Israel — and when one of them (York Centre MP Mark Adler) urged a PMO aide to let him get into the picture frame during Harper’s visit to the Western Wall, pleading: “It’s the re-election. This is the million-dollar shot.”
But a review of Harper’s public remarks and speeches in recent years, as well as interviews with those who know him, paint a different picture.
What motivates him? It’s about the simplicity of right and wrong, of good and evil.
And it’s also about the complexity of the need to take the right side — Israeli democracy versus Islamist terror — in a geopolitical conflict that could some day have impact on Canada.
On Nov. 8, 2010, Harper delivered a speech in Ottawa about the Holocaust which — like his 2003 address to the Civitas group — explains his current policy on Gaza.
“History teaches us that anti-Semitism is a tenacious and particularly dangerous form of hatred,” he said. “And recent events are demonstrating that this hatred is now in resurgence throughout the world.”
He spoke of how he had visited Auschwitz in 2008, and more recently, he had been to Babyn Yar, a ravine in Ukraine, where the Nazis had massacred Jews.
“I knew I was standing in a place where evil — evil at its most cruel, obscene, and grotesque — had been unleashed.”
Moreover, he said that the Holocaust was just one chapter in a long history of anti-Semitism and the “same threats” still faced Israel.
“Yet, in contemporary debates that influence the fate of the Jewish homeland, unfortunately, there are those who reject the language of good and evil. They say that the situation is not black and white, that we mustn’t choose sides.”
Harper made it clear. He was going to emphatically choose a “side.”
In January of this year, during his visit to Israel and the West Bank, Harper continued the pattern.
He was dogged by questions over Canada’s position on Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs website declared the settlements are “not legal” but Harper refuses to say so publicly.
“I’m not here to single out Israel for criticism,” he chided reporters as he stood next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The previous day, Harper had addressed the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, in a speech that emphatically promised Canadian support.
He spoke of a “mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism,” of how Israel’s very existence was imperiled if it didn’t defend itself, and of how Canada needed to stand by the only real beacon of democracy in the Middle East.
“Those who often begin by hating the Jews, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them,” said Harper.
“Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence and which, as 9/11 graphically showed us today, threaten all of us.”
Morality and self-protection. They are the principles at the core of the Harper Doctrine.
source: The Harper Doctrine: Why Canada’s prime minister supports Israel | Ottawa Citizen (external - login to view)
Oh and for El Troll who will be on this thread like a fly on s h i t .