The Harper Index

Quotes from Harper's NCC days...

A contrast with his current moderate tone.

In the 2006 campaign, Stephen Harper said (but did not put it on his website) that he was opposed to two tier Medicare and promised to "... cut medical wait times by establishing a Wait Times Guarantee by the end of 2006"

Until 2005 Harper believed in two-tier care and when asked by the CBC about a parallel health care system, said:

"Well I think it would be a good idea. We're alone among OECD countries in deciding that we'll have a two-tier system but our second tier will be outside the country where only the very rich and powerful can access it and will be of absolutely no benefit to the Canadian health care system."

Harper has been a member of the National Citizens Coalition for almost two decades — and it was founded explicitly to oppose publicly funded, universal Medicare. He ran the organization from 1998-2002, during his political hiatus.


Harper has always seen culture just as the US sees it: as an entertainment industry. He NEVER uses the word culture. His contention — like Americans he emulates — is that there is a North American culture. In their extensive platform document, the word culture never appears. Asked in a 1997 CBC interview, "Is there a Canadian culture?" Harper replied:

"Yes, in a very loose sense. It consists of regional cultures within Canada, regional cultures that cross borders with the US. We're part of a worldwide Anglo-American culture. And there is a continental culture."

With respect to the CBC, at a news conference in Winnipeg on May 18, 2005, Mr Harper spoke specifically of commercializing the CBC's English TV network and Radio Two — the precursor to selling off the network.

"And I think when you look at things like main English-language television and probably to a lesser degree Radio Two, you could look there at putting those on a commercial basis."

During the French-language leadership debate on Monday June 14, Jack Layton asked Harper about his commitment to the CBC. Harper replied:

"Let me outline my policies on this issue. I would keep those services of CBC which are unique, including those for Francophones outside Quebec."


On December 22, 2005, Harper pledged to protect Canada's north from incursions from US submarines.

"[We] will increase surveillance, build icebreakers, deploy troops and aircraft as part of 'Canada First' Northern Strategy."

Harper's position literally up to that moment in the campaign, was one of total support for the US military and all that it did and stood for. He would have joined in George Bush's US Anti-ballistic defence shield. He supported US President George Bush's war in Iraq, calling the Canadian position "abrasively neutral".

In a May 2003, speech to the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Harper said:

"The time has come to recognize that the US will continue to exercise unprecedented power in a world where international rules are still unreliable and where security and advancing of the free democratic order still depend significantly on the possession and use of military might."

He called for Canada to replace the "soft power" of persuasive diplomacy and peacekeeping with "hard military power" in the service of continental security. The implication was clear: in Bush's "You're either with us or against us" world, we should be with the US.


The media joked about Harper's inability — or refusal — to utter the words "I love Canada." While such a refusal may not mean much for most politicians, it does for Stephen Harper. While he was head of the extremist organization the National Citizens Coalition, he wrote a letter to the National Post lauding Alberta — and its adherence to "American enterprise and individualism" — as a better model than Canada's:

"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status..."

In assessing the Conservative Party under Joe Clark, Harper wrote:

"We don't need a second Liberal party. Westerners, but especially Albertans, founded the Reform/Alliance to get "in" to Canada. The rest of the country has responded by telling us in no uncertain terms that we do not share their 'Canadian values.' Fine. Let us build a society on Alberta values."


Harper now talks about a "Canada First" policy but for thirty years he and the pro-American think tank at the "Calgary School" (the political science department at the University of Calgary) have joined together to promote "Alberta First." That means a weakened federal government. In a letter to the National Post in 2000, Harper wrote:

"If Ottawa giveth, then Ottawa can taketh away... This is one more reason why Westerners, but Albertans in particular, need to think hard about their future in this country. After sober reflection, Albertans should decide that it is time to seek a new relationship with Canada.... It is time to look at Quebec and to learn. What Albertans should take from this example What Albertans should take from this example is to become 'maitres chez nous.'"

In another letter to the Post, Harper and his Calgary School colleagues stated:

"It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction."

Among other things, he recommended Alberta:

  1. "Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan...
  2. Collect our own revenue from personal income tax,
  3. Start preparing to let the contract with the RCMP run out in 2012 and create an Alberta provincial police force...
  4. Resume provincial responsibility for health care policy.... we can afford the financial penalties Ottawa might try to impose under the Canada Health Act."


On May 31, 2002 Harper ridiculed people in Atlantic Canada:

"There's unfortunately a view of too many people in Atlantic Canada that it's only through government favours that there's going to be economic progress, or that's what you look to. The kind of can't-do attitude is a problem in this country but it's obviously more serious in regions that have had have-not status for a long time."

Links and sources
  (Original links no longer working.)

Posted: May 17, 2007

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