Just a few weeks ago Canada suffered its first terrorist attacks in more than two generations. In one incident a young convert to Islam ran down two soldiers in Quebec, killing one of them. When he was shot dead by the police he was carrying a large knife and was presumably intent on slaughtering his victims as Lee Rigby was slaughtered in Woolwich.
In the second attack, another Muslim convert killed a soldier in Ottawa and then ran into the House of Commons and was only yards away from a group of MPs when he too was shot dead. Amongst those MPs was Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Conservative leader has been in office for more than eight years now and his response to the terror attacks was entirely typical. Firm, resolute, controlled, slightly boring but utterly uncompromising.
While opposition leaders and liberal newspapers were reluctant to even describe the crimes as terrorism, Harper used the word repeatedly and spoke of the need to combat this darkness internationally as well as domestically. Indeed, along with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, Harper has led the world in candour concerning Islamist aspirations and the need to affirm western values.
In September 2011 in an interview with the CBC, the country’s public broadcaster, Harper said that, “The major threat is still Islamicism.” He continued, “There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats. When people think of Islamic terrorism, they think of Afghanistan, or maybe they think of some place in the Middle East, but the truth is that threat exists all over the world.”
The CBC along with the country’s chattering classes is notoriously liberal and this did not go down at all well. Mind you, Harper’s views on the Middle East, Islamist terror, Canada’s need to be close to the United States and its western allies and his refusal to join the climate change train all alienate him from the country’s establishment.
There is an anecdote about the man, one that if true may explain much about his foreign policy and why Canada has become one of the world’s strongest opponents of Islamism and arguably Israel’s greatest friend. It tells that when he was a boy, Harper’s father said to him, “If ever you are in a position to help the Jewish people, make sure you do.”
It’s a tremendously moving and compelling story. He has been Prime Minister for more than eight years and in that time became the first leader to officially boycott Hamas and has support Israel without reservation during its various wars.
Whatever the motivation, Harper is regarded by many as the loudest and purest political voice defending North American values and North America’s allies, the alternative of course being Barack Obama. While the US President plays around in the relativist playground and insists that ISIS and the myriad others Islamist terror groups have nothing to do with Islam, Harper implicitly responds that perhaps millions of Muslims who disagree with the President know just a little better than the Chicago community organizer.
He is also the only world leader to have resisted the repeated and insistent calls to buy into conventional thinking, funding and joining around global warming. It’s deeply ironic, and entirely delightful, that a country obsessed with ice hockey should be the only member of the club of the big economies to have eschewed the hockey stick theory.
Harper is hardly what the left insultingly described as a “denier” but he argues quite rightly that while the great dictatorship China is also the great polluter and while is genuine dispute around climate science, responsible democracies such as Canada should not have to pay fines and be punished for their environmental policies. He is a stand out concerning climate change and this had made him a champion among critics of the green obsession but a pariah, a public enemy, within eco-fanatic circles.
Harper has also led the free trade charge, removed some of the convoluted and draconian regulations restricting free speech in Canada, withdrawn public funding from various local immigrant groups that have supported extremism abroad and taken a firm stand in defence of Ukraine against Russian expansion and invasion.
Perfect he certainly isn’t and there are many conservatives in Canada – moral or social conservatives as well as libertarians – who feel he could have done more to help the cause. But it’s liberals and socialist who most despise him, which says much about his achievements.
As Harper’s former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and possible successor once told me, “We are on the side of democracy and freedom, and against terrorism and oppression. It’s pretty straightforward really.” Straightforward perhaps, but breathtakingly refreshing. In Canada of all places. Who knew?