Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Right-Wing Judiciary in a Country of Moderates. Are we Really Prepared for This?

I've been writing a series of blog postings that speak to the fundamental changes that have already taken place in Canada over the past five years, and will continue to take place, if we allow Stephen Harper to win this election.

These are not minor shifts but speak to an attempt to completely transform the Canadian identity, moving us from a Just Society to a nation where intolerance prevails and is indeed promoted.

In 2004, Stephen Harper was running on challenging our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, promising to use the Notwithstanding Clause to overturn things like abortion laws, gay rights, women's rights and hate speech (which he likened to totalitarianism).

When elected in 2006, with a minority, he found that rather than challenge the Charter, which would cause an uproar, he could simply work behind the scenes, removing funding from groups put in place to uphold it and taking over arms length institutions and stacking them with right-wing activists.

Remaking Canada by Stealth.

If there is one area where the media has failed in its duties, it is this. The warning signs were there, but few chose to issue warnings. I know they were silenced, but even when allowed to speak freely, spoke only in whispers.

They chose to view Stephen Harper through a Progressive Conservative lens, ignoring the things that gave them a knot in their tummies.

Harper, Paul Weyrich and the Judiciary

During the 2006 election campaign, an old speech of Stephen Harper's surfaced, in which he shows disdain for Canada. It was dissected and put into sound bites, but what went largely unnoticed, was where he gave this speech. It was at a convention of the Council for National Policy, an integral arm of the American Religious Right.

They wield a great deal of power in the Republican Party, and no one gets to run for leadership, unless they first get the nod from the CNP. And they approved of Stephen Harper even before genuflecting to the talents of G.W.

Another revelation during the 2006 campaign was that Paul Weyrich, one of the leaders of the American Religious Right, who had first coined the term 'Moral Majority, had instructed his disciples to not speak with Canadian journalists, not wanting Canadians to know how deeply Harper was involved in their movement.

He first denied it, but later confirmed that he had been behind the emailed instructions (1).

Weyrich is also known as the man who developed the strategy of turning your political opponent's supporters away from the polls. When handling the campaign for Ronald Reagan he denounced the Civil Rights Movement, knowing that it would upset Black voters.

And while 90% of them voted Democrat, only 30% voted at all. When asked about this Weyrich told the press "I don't want everyone to vote ... our leverage in the election quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down. We have no moral responsibility to turn out our opposition." (2)

So if the story in 2006, was Harper's connection to Weyrich, his five years in power reveal something much more alarming than a guilt by association. He supports his "Culture Wars", something the late Paul Weyrich felt necessary to combat "Cultural Marxism".

When Harper was elected with only a minority in 2006, Weyrich's American followers were distressed, but he reminded them that this was not necessarily a bad thing.
"It is not widely known in this country that a Canadian prime minister has more power than a United States president. Harper could appoint 5,000 new officials. (No confirmation is required by the Canadian Parliament.) The prime minister also could appoint every judge from the trial courts, to the courts of appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, as vacancies occur. 'The prime minister also could appoint every judge from the trial courts, to the courts of appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, as vacancies occur'

"Harper's partisans believe he could maintain power for four years, during which time Conservatives hopefully would witness many vacancies created by Liberals leaving the courts.
In his new book Rogue in Power, Christian Nadeau reminds us that Harper has indeed been doing just that. And for Harper, "the appointment of judges is ... part of a strategy whose objective is to profoundly change the relationship between government and other institutions to one of master and servant." (3) Placing judges who hold and will support the neoconservative agenda.

We've seen evidence of this recently when a Harper appointed judge allowed a rapist to go free, because his victim had dressed "too sexy".

And according to Nadeau: "at least three judicial appointments to higher courts were motivated by religious [Right]reasons—Dallas K. Miller in Alberta, Lawrence O'Neil in Nova Scotia, and David Moseley Brown in Ontario. Miller is the founder of an association that advocates home-schooling. O'Neil has told the Commons that pregnant women have no right to control their own bodies. Brown is known for his battles against gay rights. (3)

Is this really your Canada? Are we really prepared for this?


1. Harper's U.S. neocon booster changes his story, By Beth Gorham, Canadian Press, January 27, 2006

2. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 22

3. Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is remaking Canada by Stealth, By Christian Nadeau, Lorimer Press, ISBN: 978-1-55277-730-5, Pg. 53-54

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