Hey it’s March and once again we here in Canada are hearing rumours of a spring federal election. Astoundingly, according to some national polls, a lot of Canadians are actually considering re-electing Stephen Harper and his Conservative government. Wow, a lot of Canadians must have very short memories. Let me take this opportunity to refresh your memories if I may.
This man, Stephen Harper, is the same man that in 2003 as leader of the official opposition was frantically pushing for Canada to join the Bush and Blair administrations in the invasion of Iraq. This is the same man who relentlessly cajoled and harassed then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for his decision to abide by the UN’s recommendations and not take Canada into an illegal war. This is the same man that pointed out that by not joining in the invasion, Canada’s trade with the US could suffer (we should go to war because it’s good for business).
Perhaps your memory needs further refreshment. When it was pointed out to him that the polls showed that the majority of Canadians did not support joining in the invasion of Iraq, Harper explained that sometimes it was necessary to do the right thing regardless of what the people wanted. This is the same man that had repeatedly championed the notion that governments should be in step with the majority’s wishes and not act according to their own lofty and skewed sense of morality. Harper also tried to shame Chrétien, and every other Canadian that was opposed to the war, by claiming that we were abandoning our American friends in their hour of need. At the same time, of course, he was always careful not to mention the fact that the polls showed most Americans were against the war as well.
During this time, many experts were saying that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, no evidence of a link to Al Qaeda and that a war in Iraq, rather than liberating the country, could lead to civil war between Shia and Sunni factions, greater acts of terrorism and general instability in the region. These experts even included some members of the US intelligence community. All across Canada, thousands of us were arguing that we should be listening to what these experts had to say, instead of being taken in by the Bush administration’s rhetoric and war mongering. As well, we argued that if we wanted other countries to abide by the UN charter, we had to abide by it ourselves and not go to war without the UN’s support. Harper not only ignored us, he ignored the experts and he ignored the UN; he only had ears for Bush
Okay, so as it turns out the experts I mentioned above were absolutely right and Harper was absolutely wrong. The cost: anywhere from 30,000 to 600,000 Iraqi civilians dead (depending on who you want to believe, Bush or an independent medical research organization), thousands upon thousands more civilians permanently maimed and disfigured, thousands upon thousands made homeless, over 3000 US soldiers killed, Iraqi streets once again made dangerous for women (hell, they’re dangerous for everybody), the growth of huge, well armed terrorist networks operating in a relatively lawless country with a whole new bunch of reasons for hating the West, literally billions and billions of dollars diverted from the public coffers in the US to the military campaign, etc., etc., etc.
If Stephen Harper had of been prime minister in 2003 we would have joined the US and Britain in the invasion of Iraq and we’d probably still be there. We would bear equal responsibility with them for this monumental fiasco/tragedy, all so Harper could be best buds with his right-wing heroes in the US. And you’re thinking of re-electing this man as prime minister? Please, give your head a shake!!!