Mike Robinson provided a piece exploring Harper's performance as Canada's CEO. Robinson, who has spent 28-years as CEO of various science and cultural NGOs, concludes that Harper's executive tenure has been a flop.
...in Canada, say the last eight years, corporate dominance has so overshadowed our federal political scene that many question the independence of thought in the Conservative party, and especially the Prime Minister’s Office.
On economic policy and foreign affairs files, Canada now speaks increasingly with the voice of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers — the industry’s lobby group — and seems to draw its economic policy from the Fraser Institute, both western organizations with great empathy for profit, small government and tax breaks for corporations.
...What becomes problematic is advancing these causes as the primary purpose of democratic government in a civil society. A majority government, even a plurality majority, has the duty to govern in the best interests of all the citizens and to promote the public good.
These duties require leadership that is comfortable with nuances, that listens and reflects, and has a searching eye for the middle ground. It is not well served by a leader in the thrall of dogmatism, who bases decisions on how they will serve his corporate base. To paraphrase former prime minister Jean Chrétien, Canada’s PM cannot be headwaiter to the oil patch.
Robinson goes on to evaluate Harper on several CEO criteria before concluding:L
Overall, our CEO PM has never looked comfortable in the position. If the economy stays flat and the pipelines fizzle; if the PM stays out of the gym; if more stupid mistakes occur; if the vision remains more of the same — this CEO is cruising towards a deserved involuntary dismissal.
Next up is a tale of triumphalism misplaced by our prime ministerial Chicken Hawk by Charlotte Gray, author of nine, non-fiction best sellers and former chairwoman of Canada's History Society. Without mentioning Harper by name, Gray excoriates those who want to "celebrate" Canada's role in WWI.
Am I the only person feeling increasingly uncomfortable in the tidal wave of articles, ceremonies, television programs and speeches triggered by the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War?
Obviously there is a lot to remember. The extraordinary myopia of kings, emperors and prime ministers who let their countries roll inexorably toward conflict. The helplessness of those caught up in events beyond their control — both the troops and the families they left behind. The terrifying new weapons that ensured that this war would be slaughter on an industrial scale, rather than a limited engagement between professional armies.
And most of all, the bravery of those young men who endured the nightmare of mud, poison gas, rats, disease, hunger, lice, cold, fear and homesickness in the trenches.
Gray writes that there was precious little to celebrate in the outcome of WWI.
As early as October 1914, Maclean’s magazine called the bloody conflict in Europe “the Great War.” But it wasn’t a great war, let alone “the war to end all wars,” as British writer H.G. Wells suggested. It was a failed war. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles was supposed to ensure that the major European powers would never go to war again.
In fact, the Versailles Treaty turned out to be the peace to end all peace. Within 20 years of the treaty being signed, brutal conflict had erupted again in Europe.
The boundaries that the victorious powers slapped onto their maps of the Middle East reflected their own self-interest, rather than the religious and ethnic realities on the ground. The current turmoil in the Arab world can be traced back, in part, to decisions taken in the Hall of Mirrors and subsequent diplomatic get-togethers.
The second reason for my increasing unease is a disturbing thread in some of the First World War commemorations. Military battles are being presented to Canadians as significant moments in our coming of age as a country.
But you only have to read about the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge (see historian Tim Cook’s wonderful Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917-1918) to know that this coming of age was the result of poor military planning by British generals, and involved hundreds of needless deaths.
Among those Canadians who returned, there was an undercurrent of resentment that they had been embroiled in a British imperial crusade.
This is a funny place to start the national mythology.
How much is our past being manipulated for nationalist reasons? Many of the citizens in today’s multicultural Canada have their roots in countries that were either defeated in 1918 or played no part in the conflict. What should the killing fields of Europe mean to them?
Gray has little time for people like Harper who appropriate to themselves the sacrifice made by so many and sully that sacrifice by transforming it into mythical narratives to suit their own purposes.
So, happy Labour Day weekend to you, Mr. Harper, and thank you, Times Colonist, for giving us so much to mull over this holiday.