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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Harper Government: What's In a Name

In an interview with CBC News, to be broadcast tomorrow night, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper asserted that 'Islamicism' is the biggest threat to Canada. While the P.M. believes that foreign Muslims are a threat, he also believes that homegrown Muslim radicals are something the government keeps an eye on.

The conversation with award-winning journalist Peter Mansbridge details Canada's international security situation, and while Harper states fully that Canada is more secure than it was prior to September 11, 2001, he still wants to bring back so-called anti-terrorism clauses that were in force between 2001 and 2007. The main clauses that were points of contention are:

  • One which allowed police to arrest suspects without a warrant and detain them for three days without charges if police believed a terrorist act may have been committed.
  • A second, which allowed a judge to compel a witness to testify in secret about past associations or perhaps pending acts under penalty of going to jail if the witness didn't comply.

While it should be noted that nobody from my knowledge was arrested under these codes, it is worth noting that, as the politics down south become a deep red, Mr. Harper's ambitions continue to become more grand. also, now he doesn't have a minority government like the one which he held when the laws were repealed by a unified vote of three other major parties.

But here's the thing-the average Canadian Muslim really wants nothing to do with Jihadis. He or she probably has average kids who go to average schools and hang out with other average Canadian kids. Muslims generally come to Canada to escape extremism. They may go to the mosque every week or once a year. They might buy halal beef from Alberta or snack at McDonald's. The mere suggestion that Muslims should have separate family courts was quashed by Muslims themselves, as the vast majority of Canadian Muslims want absolutely nothing to do with anything that might even appear to be preferential treatment, let alone Sharia Law.

However, the Prime Minister is banking on getting white Canada to eat up his fear by the bowlful so he can enact draconian laws to enable him to spy on and detain citizens without just cause. Under these laws, anyone really could be detains, but the likely targets would be Muslims and others with 'suspicious' complexions and/or associations. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms declares that all Canadians are to be treated equal regardless of race, creed, or religion. It too declares that Canadians shall have Freedom of Association and Movement. Unfortunately, we also have the Notwithstanding Clause, which gives the powers that be the right to ignore the Charter whenever it sees fit.

The more I think about it, the more Stephen Harper sounds like a Teabagger. Add in his alleged insistence on the Conservative Government be termed the Harper Government, his mishandling of those ridiculous G conferences, ridiculous security spending with matching tax cuts for corporations, and social program cutbacks and he sounds spot-on.

What it boils down to is fundamentalism. There are fundie Muslims and there are Evangelical Christians, like a fair chunk of the Harper Government. There are extreme Sikhs and hippielike ones. But, most members of most faiths are average taxpayers, free of sinister agendas. To be honest, we should be glad that there are fewer crazy Muslims than crazy Christians; the Muslims don't even have a political party and the Christians have several.

Stephen Harper is leaning further to the right because he figures that he'll have an ally come 2012, but if Americans look up and see what mayhem ultraconservatism can do to a profitable nation, one of the world's great nations, they'll see the Harper Government of Canada.

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