Rising from grave.jpg

Guest blogpost from reader Jim Owens.

********

Had I remembered to pick up tinfoil the other day, I might have escaped the latest emanations from the mind of Stephen Harper, as radiated by his book excerpt in yesterday’s National Post. To judge from the online comments following the article, most NP readers must have an ample supply of aluminum, since their thoughts appear to be completely shielded from what he actually said. For example, they fail to notice his claiming the credit for Canada’s relative stability during the 2008 banking crisis, when in fact it was the previous Liberal government’s refusal to deregulate Canadian banks that preserved us from the extreme over-extension of capital. They also fail to appreciate the irony that, in the same article, Mr. Harper explicitly acknowledges the crucial role of nation-state regulation against the destructive effects of globalization.

But let us begin at the beginning. In this excerpt from his new book, opaquely titled Right Here, Right Now: Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption, Stephen Harper argues that the world has become split into “globalists” and “localists.” Globalists live “anywhere”; their lives are more or less independent of nation-states. Localists live “somewhere”; they are profoundly affected by the conditions of their nation-state.

Apparently globalists are doing much better than localists, but in Mr. Harper’s argument this remains a hidden premise, which spares him the trouble of explaining it. How globalists came to be independent of the nation-state, and how exactly this confers invulnerability from the woes affecting localists, is left to our imagination. One supposes that perhaps they are wealthier, and that there might be a class conflict between a wealthy globalist elite and a dispossessed state-bound proletariat. Certainly Harper employs the claim, in explaining the West’s restive populism, that “incomes of working people have stagnated or even declined over the past quarter-century.” But, curiously for an economist, he does not clearly connect the growing wealth gap with the dominant form of economic activity in the West, that is to say, a capitalism that actively resists state regulation.

In fairness, or perhaps paradoxically, he does nevertheless see a need for state regulation. “Left to its own devices,” he writes, “globalization would be an economic world of massive and persistent instability — as it was in late 2008, until the major nation-states stepped in.” But this is only to suggest that the purpose of regulation is to provide the stability required by globalizing forces. One supposes that this allows the lamented division between globalists and localists to be perpetuated more reliably. The matter goes unexplored, and is left for those whose tinfoil does not shield them from such unsafe thoughts.

Mr. Harper is instead in a hurry to explain that disaffected localists are turning to populism, as evidenced in the election of Donald J. Trump and the yearning for Brexit, not to mention the widespread rise of anti-immigrant movements in the West. He largely approves of this populism, but he wants to manage it using a particular ideology he has brought to the table. He calls this ideology “conservative populism,” and explains that “It is about putting conservative values and ideas into the service of working people and their families.” But he adds that “conservatives should remain pro-market, pro-trade, pro-globalization, and pro-immigration at heart. Going in a completely opposite direction in any of these areas would be a big mistake with serious ramifications.”

It is a regrettable trait of ideological thinking to start with an answer, and then apply it to whatever problems one observes. Stephen Harper has correctly identified a growing class conflict between the well-to-do and “working people” — an idea he might have encountered in another form during his studies in economics — but has made the colossal blunder of failing to work from this observation towards a rational and unprejudiced course of action. Instead he clings to a set of “values” that must guide us, notwithstanding their suspicious resemblance to the very principles that he says got us into the mess in the first place: pro-market, pro-trade, pro-globalization, pro-immigration. More than this, he says that any unnamed alternatives would be “a big mistake” without offering any reasons why, at least in this excerpt.

Rounding out the puzzle of Mr. Harper’s thinking is the fact that the very populism which elected Donald Trump, with his clearly anti-globalist, anti-trade, and anti-immigration attitudes (and anti-market, in the sense that free market deals are supposedly reached without the coercive application of superior power that marks, say, feudalist societies or mafia dealings) — this vicious populism is the same populism that Stephen Harper hopes to leverage with his pro-market basket of ideas.

There is more to be said about this book excerpt. Its analysis of the Make America Great Again movement in terms of the international politics of Iraq and Afghanistan is regrettably shallow. According to Mr. Harper, these misadventures incurred “enormous human and financial costs…with very little success.” As a result, “global security deteriorated,” which fed the populist America-first movement. One longs to explore the failures of these initiatives, and to trace the concomitant deterioration of security, in order to learn what mistakes were made and how they might be prevented.

Some might also want to compare Mr. Harper’s record as Prime Minister of Canada, with its pronounced anti-democratic tendencies — whether to test his current conservative theories against his previous Conservative behaviours, or simply to discuss his current attempts at political intervention. But I will leave it to others to recall the details of his dictatorial reign, and to explore whatever implications they may have for his populist political vision.

For my part, I wish only to portray Stephen Harper’s ideas in this book excerpt as they might be experienced by a reader whose mind is not thoroughly shielded by the tinfoil of a certain ideology.

Disqus Comments




Capture.JPG “Our keynote speaker will be Maxime Bernier!” - Ezra Levant, promoting the November Rebelklatsch in Calgary.

Plop. Diving right into the pool too toxic for Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney. Because THAT worked so well for Kellie Leitch.

Disqus Comments




Balbulican

Only a Flesh Wound

| Disqus Comments

flesh1.jpg

The Conservatives’ disintegration is, in an odd, backhanded way, a tribute to Stephen Harper.

There never really was a united “Conservative Party of Canada”; conceived in exile and consummated in the back room, it was always an uneasy patchwork of Red Tories, Reformers, fundamentalists, right wing libertarians, Old Blue Boys, and an ill-assorted grab-bag of anti-this-and-anti-that odds and sods. It was Frankenstein, but it was Stephen Harper’s own Frankenstein - his design, his selection of body parts, and his stitching. And only Harper - micro-manager, bully and authoritarian that he was - could keep all those writhing, ill-matched limbs together, and keep them writhing and slouching vaguely in the same direction.

And now, it seems, a key portion of the beast has broken free. It’s the part that’s bellicose, with a mind of its own; delicacy forbids I should pursue the metaphor further, but I’m reasonably sure that a few Conservatives are asking themselves, with anatomical accuracy: “Where does that prick think HE’S going?”

Are Conservatives forever doomed to wistful backward glances at their Leader’s predecessor? The hapless Andrew Scheer now makes Stephen Harper look like a tower of strength and purpose. Stephen Harper established Brian Mulroney as a paragon of humanity, moderation, and leadership on Indigenous and environmental issues. Brian Mulroney made Joe Clark look…err…never mind. Let’s stop there.

Disqus Comments




Dr. Dawg

But...history!

| Disqus Comments


[Dear remaining readers: apologies for neglecting this blog of late—pressing assignments, alas. Stay tuned for more in a while. Until then, join me in abominating this dreadful spectacle of politically-correct historical erasure. Down the memory hole. Right out of Orwell. ~DD]

Lenin history.jpg

Disqus Comments




Dr. Dawg

Ethnic triumphalism

| Disqus Comments


Bedouin village bulldozed.jpg

A grim future scenario: Canada’s new government, headed by someone not entirely unlike Andrew Scheer, establishes our country as a white, Anglo-Saxon, Christian ethnostate. White Christians around the world have an automatic right to immigrate. French loses its official language status, but acquires “special” status.

The right of the white, English-speaking majority to help themselves to indigenous land is now established in law. Reserve housing is bulldozed to build developments for the influx of white immigrants. They need living space, we are told. The displaced “natives” are deported to wasteland near a rubbish dump.

Outcry? I would imagine so. From some quarters, anyway.

But the Western “world” is selective in its outrage. I shall forbear from commenting further, however, because criticizing Israel is, of course, anti-Semitic by definition.

Disqus Comments




Dr. Dawg

14 words

| Disqus Comments


14 words.jpg

“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.” So said neo-Nazi David Lane, and those words have become a mantra for some of the Usual Suspects (Milo Yiannopolous, Faith Goldy) …and various ragtag and bobtail Trump followers, of course.

But we should try to keep up. The slogan has just been updated.

Disqus Comments







Jordan Peterson and Lindsay Shepherd, those intrepid champions of free speech, have launched twin lawsuits against Wilfrid Laurier University. As Peterson intimates fairly strongly in the video clip above, his own action is really about backing up Lindsay Shepherd, who has launched a lawsuit of her own. It’s hard to see how either can succeed.

With respect to Peterson’s action, I will admit utter bewilderment. A lawsuit for damages is supposed to be about actual damages, not launched for the purpose of helping out a friend. Further, this is not a libel case (a permanent record of the damaging words, circulated by the offending party, is required for that), but one of slander. In libel, damages are assumed. But a successful defamation action in the case of slander requires that actual damages be proven.

It is difficult to fathom how comments made in a private and supposedly confidential meeting have cost Peterson anything (although, perhaps, the other plaintiff might be faulted). That will be one very steep hill for him to climb; another will be a robust defence of fair comment that Wilfrid Laurier University and the named defendants will be sure to make.

The following criteria for a successful fair comment defence must be met: the matter must be one of public interest, and it is hard to imagine a counter-argument in this case. The impugned commentary must clearly be opinion, rather than a statement of fact. And, while it must be based upon fact, it need not be a reasonable conclusion to draw from those facts—rather, the question is only whether defendants honestly believe that the facts support their commentary.

Readers might wish to have a look at a case in which I was personally involved—where various Speech Warriors™ rallied to the cause of my opponents in the action. “Free Speech,” they cried, and I was painted as a lawfare advocate for objecting to being publicly labelled as a supporter of the Taliban while Canada was at war with them.

In the event, the court found that I had indeed been defamed—but that the defendant honestly believed what he wrote, based upon his bizarre interpretation of my support for justice in the case of Omar Khadr, at the time in the grip of the Guantanamo military tribunal kangaroos. The defence of fair comment prevailed.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on this very matter in an earlier case, WIC Radio Ltd. v. Simpson:

Of course it is true that the comment must have “a basis” in the facts, but a requirement that the comment be “supported by the facts”, read strictly, might be thought to set the bar so high as to create the potential for judicial censorship of public opinion. Even the assessment of “relevance” has in the past misled courts into asking whether the facts “warranted” the comment, or whether the comment “fairly” arose out of the facts (Vander Zalm), or other such judgmental evaluations. Insistence on a court’s view of reasonableness and proportionality was thought to represent too great a curb on free expression, but it was not too much to ask a defamer to profess an honest belief in his or her defamatory comment. If the speaker, however misguided, spoke with integrity, the law would give effect to freedom of expression on matters of public interest.

Even if Peterson is successful in his claim that he was defamed, therefore—and that’s a stretch, for the reasons given—it is difficult to see how he could overcome the solid precedents that the other side will surely bring forward.

As for Lindsay Shepherd’s lawsuit, blaming her treatment in that supposedly private, closed meeting with her superiors at Wilfrid Laurier for her alleged unemployability in the future seems utterly fanciful. It was her own secret taping of that appalling, cringeworthy inquisition, and her subsequent contact with an eager member of the right-wing press, that led to her current notoriety. If she is unemployable in academia in consequence, she would appear to be the author of her own misfortune. And her subsequent behaviour, which has done her no credit, will no doubt be introduced into evidence by the defendants as well.

The two plaintiffs share the same lawyer. Given Shepherd’s role in widely promulgating what Peterson claims is a harmful slander, how can this be? Why isn’t she a co-defendant in Peterson’s action? How does their lawyer avoid what at least looks like a serious conflict of interest?

Well, I am not a lawyer, as lawyers occasionally remind me, so the courts and the learned legal minds involved will wrestle with these and other conundra while I set the corn a-poppin’. But returning to Peterson just for a moment, some of his comments in the video clip need to be underlined. He contends that the two lawsuits will convince professors and university administrators “blinded by their own ideology” to be “much more circumspect in their actions and their words.” [emphasis added]

Good grief. How quickly Speech Warriors™ turn to the heavy hand of the state when their own oxen are gored. It will be interesting to see how their fellows respond.

Disqus Comments




Dr. Dawg

Eugenics

| Disqus Comments




Apparently conservatives have oversized amygdalae. Can this be detected in utero?

Disqus Comments




Balbulican

A Modest Propuesta

| Disqus Comments

trump wall 4.jpgPresident Trump took a short break this week from strengthening ties with China, Canada, England, Germany, France, Mexico, NATO and the UN to clarify his deterrence policy of frightening potential illegal immigrants by caging their children like stray dogs. Trump is of course to be commended for sticking to his guns and refusing to back down in the face of lily-livered dem-commie Soros-funded Muslo-traitors who pretend to care about these so-called “children”, and who accuse him of inhumanity. As if any kid wouldn’t have fun in a cool pen and with sci-fi tinfoil blankets!

The problem is, it’s not working. Time to step up the game a bit. What about selling off these mini-criminals’ corneas and kidneys on the lucrative transplant market? Just one cornea and one kidney per child, of course: Americans are not monsters.

Proceeds could go to the completion of Trump’s Wall (since it looks like the Mexicans may not be paying for it after all); and in the event of an unfortunate surgical mishap, the remains of the deceased larval-invaders could be hung on the Wall as a further disincentive.

Disqus Comments





Ross.jpg

Photocredit: Lloydminster Little Theatre

It’s Patrick Ross’ birthday today. He is 37.

More than seven and a half years ago, I wrote about what proved to be the initial chapter of a seemingly never-ending legal saga. My friend Robert Day, better known to friends and enemies alike as Canadian Cynic, has been in the courts ever since, trying to recover some semblance of damages awarded for a grotesque libel against him.

Like other fish, mudfish are slippery. Ross proved hard to find, and, when found, he used every means possible, including declaring bankruptcy, to avoid the initial undefended default judgement against him. The story has many twists and turns, all fairly boring, to be honest, but very recently reality appears—finally—to have caught up with him.

First, Ross’ appeal of an unfavourable bankruptcy judgement in 2014, left dormant until very recently, was slapped down by a judge mere weeks ago. A further action by Ross, consisting of a bizarre attempt to have Day found guilty of contempt of court for attempting to suggest a reasonable settlement several dollars short of what he was owed after the 2010 judgement, was ruthlessly crushed by another judge earlier this week, who delivered his brutal smackdown from the bench.

We can all remember birthdays, both good ones and bad ones. There is usually, but not always, a cake, and people offer a few pro forma good wishes. I’m a creature of tradition, so let me offer mine.

Patrick, an aspiring novelist and thespian, is presently unemployed (or so my sources tell me), a university dropout and a bankrupt, who has moved back in with his parents. He has repeatedly failed to whack the judicial piñata, and now sits in a six-figure financial hole that he has been digging for many years. I hope he has finally put down his shovel.

At this point the words of Dante come to mind: “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, mi ritrovai per una selva oscura ché la diritta via era smarrita.” In the middle of life’s journey, Patrick, too, has found himself in a dark wood, having lost the straight path. May his birthday mark a turning-point, and may the second half of his life be more fruitful—and happier—than the first. I wish him success in making that change.

Disqus Comments




Recent Comments

A progressive mandarin

Eco-socialism

Fellow Dawg

First Nations

Humane Libertarians

Kiwis and Te Tangata Whenua

Live stream news

Ottawa blogs: paging Hizzoner Jim Watson

Sui Generis

Toronto doings

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 6.3.6