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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.)