Monday, October 12, 2015

On October 19th, Stop Harper!

Ok, enough about my "new" album Coming Home.  Let’s move on to something else more important for the time being.  And if what I’m about to say sounds overly alarmist to you, read my post from 2011 titled, "Harper Wins Majority (Yikes!) and see if my “alarmist” predictions back then didn’t pretty much all come to pass.

On Monday, October 19th, Canada will hold what may be the most important federal election in the history of this country.  On that day, Canadians will either elect a government that has, at least, some fleeting respect for honesty, justice and equality, (NDP, Liberal, or a coalition between the two) or a government that admires and emulates the worst aspects of American politics and is borderline fascist (the Conservatives).

Yes, I know fascist is a heavy word with heavy connotations and I know its an over used word as well, but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it is a duck.  Of course, Stephen Harper will claim that he believes in the lofty notions of democracy, diplomacy and human rights, but the facts tell quite a different story.

For instance, Stephen Harper is largely considered to be Israel’s strongest supporter in the West. While Israel is often touted by right-wingers as being the only democracy in the Middle East—an untrue assertion—its’ occupation of Palestine and it’s treatment of Palestinians is anything but democratic.  If you’re an Arab/Israeli (Palestinian) living in Israel you do not have the same rights as a Jew and if you’re a Palestinian living in the Occupied Territories (Palestine), you have virtually no rights at all.  You can be arbitrarily arrested at any time, imprisoned indefinitely without trial, you can have your home demolished, your land confiscated and you can be shot dead for protesting, all at the whim of the Israeli military—and all of these things happen on a regular basis. 

These are exactly the sorts of things that fascist countries like Nazi Germany, Italy under Mussolini, Spain under Franco, Guatemala under Rios Mont and Chile under Pinochet are famous for perpetrating against populations under their control.  Harper apparently has no problem with any of this and has never criticized Israel for either its’ continued occupation of Palestine or its’ oppressive policies toward the Palestinians.  

At the same time, Israel continues to break international law, refuses to end its’ illegal occupation of the West Bank, continues to blockade Gaza and routinely carries out massive military invasions of its’ neighbours.  Yes, the invasions are in response to small-scale attacks launched against Israel.  Many Arabs are pissed-off with Israel over its’ occupation of Palestine.  But the response to these attacks is always massively disproportionate on the part of Israel, with many civilian deaths and intensive destruction of infrastructure.  Again, Stephen Harper doesn’t seem to have a problem with this and often, even acts as a cheerleader for the Israelis during these intensely bloody campaigns.

In 2006, Hezbollah ambushed an Israeli patrol near the southern border of Lebanon.  Several Israeli soldiers were killed and two soldiers were captured and held by Hezbollah in the hopes that they could pressure Israel to do a prisoner exchange.  Israel responded by invading Lebanon by air, sea and land, unleashing an overwhelming and largely indiscriminate level of firepower against the Lebanese population.  Approximately 1200 Lebanese were killed, most of them civilians. Many, many more were horribly injured and/or made homeless.  Much of southern Lebanon’s infrastructure lay in smoldering ruins.  Meanwhile, 165 Israelis were killed in the invasion, most of them soldiers, and Israel’s infrastructure went largely unscathed.  Stephen Harper referred to this as “a measured response” by Israel.

Near the end of 2008, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip in an effort to stop rocket attacks originating from there. During that year, Palestinian militants protesting the continued blockade by Israel of the Gaza Strip had fired many rockets into Israel.  For the most part, the rockets were inaccurate and largely ineffectual, although over the course of the year they had killed four Israelis. 

Again, Israel’s response was disproportionate and indiscriminate.  At the end of the war, 1300 Palestinians had been killed, most of them civilians.  13 Israelis were killed, 10 of them soldiers.  Infrastructure was severely damaged by Israeli artillery and aircraft—including a UN food storage facility.  White phosphorus—a burning compound that is very difficult to extinguish—was fired directly into populated areas—including the UN compound—in contravention of international law.  Many Palestinians were horribly burned as a result—some of them to death.
  Lawrence Cannon, Harper’s Foreign Affairs Minister, speaking on behalf of the Conservative government stated that Israel had a “clear right to defend itself” and that “first and foremost those (Palestinian militants’) rocket attacks must stop”.  He didn’t say anything about Israel’s white phosphorus attacks.                                                                     

When Israel invaded Palestine again in 2014—again, in response to ineffectual rocket attacks as well as smuggling tunnels—they pretty much bombed Gaza into the Stone Age. Huge sections of most large communities in Gaza became absolutely uninhabitable.  520,000 Palestinians were made homeless.  Running water and electricity became almost nonexistent. Corpses, along with the wounded, lay on the street and under tons of debris for days, with no one able to get to them do to the constant Israeli barrage. In the end, 2200 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians, while 71 Israelis were killed, mostly soldiers. While most other world leaders were calling on both sides to cease hostilities, Harper’s only comment was "Canada is unequivocally behind Israel".

Stephen Harper likes to support and encourage other fascists too; when General Abdel Fattah el Sisi overthrew the democratically elected government of Egypt in a military coup, Stephen Harper’s only comment was that the coup had brought “stability” to Egypt.  Well, it didn’t bring stability to the over 800 protesters that were shot dead by el Sisi’s troops.

Nor did it bring stability to the thousands of political activists responsible for organizing the “Arab Spring”—a peaceful, pro-democracy revolt against dictatorship.  Instead the coup brought them lengthy prison sentences and in some cases, torture and death.  Nor did the coup bring stability to journalists in Egypt that tried to do their job and show what was actually happening in the streets.  After lengthy and ridiculous show trials, many of them also found themselves behind bars.

Most recently, Harper agreed to sell the Saudis $15 billion in military equipment.  He claims the Saudis are our “allies” and hence, deserve our support.  Saudi Arabia is probably the most authoritarian regime in the Middle East—certainly if you happen to be a woman.  It’s a dictatorship run by a royal family with zero tolerance for dissent, where executions in the form of beheadings are frequent and where one of the most extreme forms of fundamentalist Islam—Wahhabism—is the state religion.  Really, we want to be allies with a regime like this?  We want to sell a repressive dictatorship weapons so it can be even more repressive and maintain its’ dictatorship indefinitely?  Apparently Harper does.

Closer to home, Stephen Harper continues to demonstrate his affinity with things fascist by promising to set up a snitch line if he’s elected.  Citizens will be able to phone the RCMP and report “barbaric cultural practices” to them.
This is obviously just a crass attempt on Harper’s part to appeal to his hysterical, misinformed, Islamophobic base.  He really has hit rock bottom with this incredibly divisive, unworkable and pointless proposal. It would be funny, if it weren’t so chillingly Orwellian.  Citizens anonymously ratting on their neighbours to the government for behaving in some “un-Canadian manner”, really, that’s a page right out of the fascist handbook.

When I consider all of these things, it cinches it for me; Stephen Harper and his inner circle of ministers and aids, are so driven by their extreme right-wing ideology, their penchant for military might and violence and their psychopathic need to win elections, that they are damn near capable of anything.  Think about that word, “anything” and use your imagination.  Who knows where he will take us if he’s elected for another four years?  Lets not go there.  On October 19th, vote carefully, vote strategically, vote him out!

(PS, and I’m not even mentioning his muzzling of Canadian scientists, inaction on climate change, cutting of crucial social programs, privatizing the wheat board, poor management of the economy, uncritical support for oil-sands development, etc, etc, etc.)


Mark Bignell said...

Very effective and well researched blog, Gerry. I'm hoping more people have researched and educated themselves about all Harper has done, and what he's has supported, and have the sense to get out and vote the most destructive government Canada's ever had out. I don't think I'm exaggerating one bit. I've never been as disturbed by a government as I have with The Harpercons.

Michelle said...

Hey Gerry. I like that you focussed on the foreign policy angle. Usually, critics of Harper look mostly at domestic issues. Harper has destroyed our image as a fair, mid-sized power who is concerned with human rights and social justice. His approach to international affairs is amoral and he is quite happy to support oppressive and non-democratic governments as long as they fit his narrow ideological niche or may benefit Canadian industry. Canada, under Harper, makes me hang my head in shame. He makes Angela Merkel, the Conservative leader in Germany, look like a rabid Socialist because she is actually concerned with helping Syrian refuges. Anyway, lets vote this cold-hearted bastard out of office.