Harry Leslie Smith first came to my attention from a Remembrance Day op-ed he penned for The Guardian in 2013, "This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time."
Harry, a veteran himself, believed that the poppy had become an infomercial for the 'war without end' crowd.
Harry, now 94, splits his time between his UK homeland and his place in Belleville, Ontario. The outspoken progressive has given an interview to The Tyee in which he compares Canada's current prime minister to the guy he replaced.
In a March 2015 interview with The Tyee about Harper, Smith characterized the former prime minister as having “one consideration, and that is to let the rich get richer and the poor fend for themselves.”
At the time he was concerned about child poverty in larger cities, tax loopholes for the wealthy and government service cutbacks under the Tories.
Harper was arrogant and refused to admit when he was wrong, Smith said, but the problems that persisted under his government continue because Trudeau “doesn’t have any thoughts of his own” on how to improve the country.
“If he was saying he’d found a way to provide cheap housing to all the people who have been waiting for years… then that would be something he could be proud of,” he said. “We have too many people in this country sleeping under bridges and railways and have no hope of finding places to live.”
“Even with the heat, Canada in summer is the prettiest place this side of paradise,” Smith said while explaining his yearly migration. “It is just glorious.”
Less glorious is the recent behaviour of Canada’s prime minister, who Smith calls a “razzle dazzle man.”
“He’s not giving any indication at all that he is going to be very interested in changing the lifestyle of people here in Canada,” he said. “He’s actually more interested in appeasing people above him who are telling him what to do.”
Those “above” the prime minister mostly include members of the one per cent who want leaders doing their bidding without question, Smith said.
The broken promises on electoral reform and commitments to Indigenous people and attempts to appease U.S. President Donald Trump are some of the complaints Smith has about the Liberal government.
The report says the onus is on federal and provincial governments to tackle the problem, but Smith isn’t seeing an effort to solve such inequality from Trudeau.
He dismissed initiatives like the Canada Child Benefit, saying they don’t actually reduce inequality as the Liberals often claim.
Parents need affordable childcare and good wages, not payments that effectively subsidize the businesses paying their low wages, he said.
It’s all left Smith wondering where the prime minister’s heart is.
“He’s not his own man,” he said. “I have a feeling, a gut feeling, there’s someone behind him pulling strings and he’s obeying orders.”
Harry sees a ray of light in the recent ouster of the B.C. Liberal government.
Geez, if you New Dems are still looking for a leader, you could do worse - a lot worse - than old Harry.