The traditional source of political power in Canada is the Liberal Party, but they lost power after a string of scandals and weak leadership a decade ago, and Harper, having captured the traditionally moderate "Progressive Conservatives" and inserted his radical rightwing followers, used the electoral split to pursue a divisive, unjust agenda.
For pro-Israeli, pro-war, anti-environment, anti-science, anti-culture types, he was perfect. But for people concerned about human rights, the environment, promoting the arts and maintaining Canada's reputation as a nation that promotes world peace, and is a haven for scientific development, he has been the worst prime minister in history.
Canadians finally woke up in alarm this summer, and the Liberals under the charismatic Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre Trudeau, produced a miracle, moving from third place with 19% to 37% in the final week and on to 40% on election day, winning a majority. Hours after his victory, Trudeau told reporters, "I want to say this to this country's friends around the world: Many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years. Well, I have a simple message for you on behalf of 35 million Canadians. We're back."
The NDP "third way" followers jumped ship in the last week, horrified at the possibility of giving Harper another term in office. Despite stubborn resistance by their leader Thomas Mulcair, they did the sensible thing, individually opting to vote "strategically" in ridings where the liberal-socialist split might allow the Harperite candidates to slip in once again.
The devastation of the Harper decade is going to be very hard to reverse. It will be essential for the Liberals and NDPers (and let's not forget the plucky Green Party leader Elizabeth May) to work together in a 'Battle of Britain' spirit to salvage something from the Harper legacy.
A few examples of how he has dragged the country through the diplomatic mud internationally since his election in 2006 include the following:
*He signed a public security cooperation "partnership" in 2008 with Israel to "protect their respective countries' population, assets and interests from common threats". Israel security agents now officially assist Canada's security services in profiling Canadians citizens and monitoring individuals and/or organizations in Canada involved in supporting the rights of Palestinians.
*At the same time, he introduced a novel foreign adviser, an Israeli military attache, to his circle, and began serving up one diplomatic morsel after another to what most nations consider a pariah country. For instance, in 2010 he granted a new identity and passport to an agent of the Mossad who had been involved in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in 2010.
*He banned British MP Galloway from speaking at a pro-Palestinian rally in 2009, though George Galloway was entering from the US. Such bans on peace activists have only multiplied since then. A friend and staunch activist on 9/11 truth issues, Kevin Barrett, was refused entry in June 2015.
*Harper made Canada one of the few countries to oppose the successful Palestinian bid in November 2012 to upgrade its status at the United Nations from "non-member observer entity" to "non-member observer state"
*For no reason, he broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in September 2012 at the height of the Israeli mania to invade Iran.
*He cancelled Canada's participation in the Kyoto treaty on the environment in 2011, cutting his own miserly promise to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020 from 20% to 17%, and then doing nothing to implement even that. Canada is a disgusting 15th out of the 17 largest countries in terms of CO2 emissions.
It was Canada's turn to join the UN Security Council in a rotating regional seat in 2010, but UN members snubbed Canada, acknowledging the affront on Kyoto and the outrageous pro-Israeli bias of the Conservatives. Almost overnight, Harper reduced Canada to at best a laughing stock, at worst an international pariah.
He is loathed by 65% of Canadians--make that 70% as of election day--not so much for these humiliations, but for his many domestic policies, which include:
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