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The Conservative Party of Canada has been in a period of political transition since former Prime Minister Stephen Harper lost the 2015 election. Whereas Harper’s ideology was fine tuned and his fiscally conservative approach to governance was appreciated by voters in his three electoral triumphs, his successors have been unable to recreate this magic.

This isn’t to say Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole, the two most recent Conservative leaders, didn’t have opportunities to defeat Justin Trudeau and the Liberals in 2019 and 2021, respectively. Both men led in the polls at times. They seemingly had the weak, ineffective PM on the ropes. Alas, neither man was able to capitalize on Trudeau’s mistakes and afforded him time to recover. They also made their own mistakes that they couldn’t reverse, which led to their own political demise.

No-one assumed that either Scheer or O’Toole would have been carbon copies of Harper. That would have been a foolish expectation in both instances. That being said, the successful political blueprint Harper left behind wasn’t properly emulated and, at certain points, seemed like it was barely read.

Well, that’s about to change. The new Conservative leader, Pierre Poilievre, will help protect Harper’s legacy, create his own political footprint and hopefully guide them back to power when the next federal election is called.

Poilievre has been an MP since 2004. He’s an intelligent, media-savvy politician who served as a cabinet minister for Harper in two portfolios, Employment and Social Development and Democratic Reform. Poilievre, like Harper, is also a staunch defender of modern Conservative values à la Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. He supports smaller government, lower taxes, greater individual rights and freedoms, a more muscular foreign policy and giving power back to the people. He champions fiscal prudence and free speech, and opposes fiscal irresponsibility and cancel culture.

This type of platform would have been enough to win the Conservative leadership. Poilievre, to his credit, also looked beyond the party’s traditional voting base and focused on non-Conservative individuals and communities.

He used outside-the-box issues (for Conservatives) like affordable housing and cryptocurrency, for instance. He created videos with common sense messaging about the escalating costs of food and crippling mortgage payments that appealed to Canada’s middle class. His critiques of elites and “gatekeepers” in society appealed to young voters, political independents and, believe it or not, the apolitical.

Canada’s political analysts, especially the left-leaning ones, attempted to label Poilievre’s campaign as “far right” or “extreme.” They disliked his straightforward, no-nonsense political messaging as pablum for red meat Conservatives. They were furious about his support for the basic principles of the pro-trucker Freedom Convoy, and claimed without foundation that he was trying to divide Conservatives and Canadians. They promoted the campaign of his main political rival, Jean Charest, a left-leaning Red Tory who was a former federal PC leader and Quebec Liberal premier, as the true voice of traditional, moderate Canadian conservatism.

Guess what? It didn’t work.

Poilievre overwhelmingly won on the first ballot. He earned 68.15 percent of the vote based on the weighted points system the Conservatives use for leadership races. (Each political riding was assigned a certain number of points. The maximum number was 100 points for a riding with at least 100 party members. In ridings with less than 100 members, one point was allotted per vote cast.) Charest was light years behind in second place with 16.07 percent, followed by Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis at 9.69 percent, Independent Ontario MPP Roman Baber at 5.03 percent and Conservative MP Scott Aitchison at 1.06 percent.

He also earned 70.7 percent of the popular vote – and, most impressively, 330 of the 338 electoral ridings. Long story short, it was one of the most definitive victories in a party leadership race in Canadian political history.

After all the fantastical, made-up claims that the Conservatives were on the verge of splintering or fracturing, this result proved the party membership was more united than ever behind his leadership. While winning a federal election is a different task than a leadership race, he’s more than up to the challenge.

Poilievre assembled a strong team in the leadership race, and will undoubtedly build an equally strong team as Official Opposition leader. He’s a strong orator and communicator who impeccably understands the ins and outs of politics. He has a solid strategic mind and true understanding of the political mindset of many Canadian voters. His wife, Anaida, who was born in Venezuela, is intelligent, kind, energetic, hard-working – and a significant political asset. He’ll work hard to grow the non-traditional Conservative vote just like Harper did, because that’s the only viable route to victory in Liberal Canada.

The future looks bright for the new Conservative leader, the Conservative Party – and Canada’s conservative movement. Which means this frustrating period of political transition may be finally drawing to a conclusion.

Michael Taube, a long-time newspaper columnist and political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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Mark Twain might have extended one of his celebrated aphorisms by saying Canadian political history seldom repeats itself but often rhymes in free verse.

As of May 10, 2022 there were 24 days before the June 2 Ontario provincial election. The opinion poll aggregator 338Canada.com  was still projecting that the Ford Nation Ontario PCs would win a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly on election day. But the projected majority was lower than it had been a week before.

Meanwhile, the latest individual Nanos poll (May 7-8) put the PCs at 35.4%, Liberals 30.4%, New Democrats 23.7% and Greens 4.2%. Doug Ford was still ahead as preferred premier (29%). But Liberal leader Steven Del Duca was in second place (24.1%) — “more than a seven-point gain for Del Duca, who sat at 17 per cent support when the last survey was conducted on May 2.”

All this lends somewhat greater intrigue to the question of just what might happen over the final 24 days of the Ontario campaign. And a little revealing light could be shed in this direction by the history of opinion polling over the final 24 days of the 2015 federal election campaign in Canada.

Like the Ford Ontario PCs in 2022, the 2015 Harper Conservatives went into the campaign with a majority government. Many thought they would win another four-year term in office.

During the summer of 2015 it was not the Trudeau Liberals who seemed to be challenging this prospect. It was Tom Mulcair’s unusually Quebec-friendly New Democrats. By the middle of September, however, it was clear enough that Tom Mulcair was not going to form the first New Democratic federal government in Canadian history.

The 24 days before the federal election on Monday, October 19, 2015 began on Saturday, September 26. And the Harper Conservatives finished first in seven of the next 10 polls. A Mainstreet Research poll  released on October 1 put the Harper Conservatives at 37% support, and the Trudeau Liberals at only 29%. From here Conservatives placed first in polls released on October 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10!

By now the Trudeau Liberals were showing some strength. They also finished first in polls released on October 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. But it was not until October 11 — only eight days before the actual election on October 19 — that the Liberals took the unchallenged lead in all subsequent polls that would blossom into their ultimate 2015 majority government.

Liberals alone finished first in the final 22 public polls from October 11 to October 18. But even during the last week of the 2015 federal campaign there was great respect for the Harper Conservatives’ almost 10 years in office. On the eve of  election day Maclean’s magazine was still contemplating the prospects for another  Harper Conservative minority government — this time possibly following the fate of Frank Miller in the 1985 Ontario provincial election!

Back in the present, as of May 10, 2022 the opinion poll aggregator 338Canada.com was, again, still projecting that the Ford Nation Ontario PCs would win a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly on June 2.

But will things still look this way eight days before the 2022 Ontario election? Is there any  room for some kind of big enough surprise?

There still seems very little in the 2022 Ontario polling to suggest that any party other than the Ford PCs is at all likely to win the largest number of seats in the Legislative Assembly. And the first leaders debate on northern issues in North Bay on May 10 arguably did little to change this picture.

Yet the latest Nanos poll (May 7-8) which put the PCs at just 35.4% of the province-wide popular vote does hint at a Ford PC minority rather than majority government. And with all three major opposition leaders already having expressed their reluctance to support such a thing, there are good  reasons to wonder how long it could last.

For the moment voters who find the prospect of four more years of a Ford Nation PC majority government utter anathema can take at least some heart. The possibility of a highly unstable Doug Ford minority government has still not been altogether banished from the 2022 Ontario campaign.

Beyond this the 2015 Canadian federal election may offer one final piece of advice to voters in Canada’s most populous province in 2022: Wait until the last week or so of the campaign before taking the opinion polls altogether seriously.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already led the most left-wing federal government in our country’s history. That’s a widely accepted statement of fact. His working agreement with Jagmeet Singh’s NDP will push it so far to the left that it will be, as interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen observed, akin to “backdoor socialism.”

Several policies of mutual interest, including national dental care, pharmacare, reducing carbon emissions and a so-called “fairer tax system.” are multi-billion programs that will undoubtedly continue to escalate on an annual basis. This will enable the Trudeau Liberals to continue its reckless trend of spending taxpayer dollars like drunken sailors. If some of these policies find a home in the April 7 federal budget, those tipsy seafarers could be left in a permanently inebriated state.

The Conservatives, who are in the midst of a leadership race, can’t stop the financial bleeding if the Coalition of the Left runs its course. Fortunately, they’ll have time to rebuild the party into a desirable political alternative. To accomplish this, the new leader should utilize a successful electoral strategy from the not-too-distant past.

There are four main leadership candidates. Two are classified as Blue Tories, or right-leaning Conservatives: Pierre Poilievre and Leslyn Lewis. The other two, Jean Charest and Patrick Brown, are classified as centrists by some, and Red Tories (or left-leaning Conservatives) by others.

Conservative party members have gradually become more right-leaning. They favour Blue Tory principles like small government, low taxes and more individual rights and freedoms. Charest, a former federal PC leader and Quebec Liberal premier who raised hydro rates, auto insurance fees, set provincial, Kyoto Accord-like targets and imposed a carbon tax on businesses in the latter role, is therefore completely out of step. So too is Brown, a former Conservative MP and Ontario PC leader who supported a provincial carbon tax and likes to tout his “pragmatic Progressive Conservative” roots.

Poilievre, a Conservative MP since 2004 and cabinet minister under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Lewis, a lawyer and rookie Conservative MP who ran in the 2020 leadership race, both offer a more succinct political message. Nevertheless, the former stands head and shoulders above the latter – and all other candidates.

I’ve known Poilievre for years. He’s intelligent and media savvy. He admires great Conservative thinkers and leaders, including Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. He’s a strong fiscal conservative who supports free markets, private enterprise, trade liberalization and oil and gas development. He has a clear foreign policy vision, and wants Canada to be a leader and not a follower.

In many ways, Poilievre is similar to Harper. He’s also starting to face the same sort of media scrutiny his predecessor did. That is, he’s “too conservative” for Canada, “out of touch” when it comes to funding social services and protecting society’s most vulnerable, and has an “unwinnable” strategy.

Poilievre, as a good student of history, knows differently. Canada is a Liberal-leaning country, but not a socialist monolith. They’ll vote Conservative if they tout a positive, forward-thinking message. Hence, he needs to implement Harper’s successful electoral strategy of incremental conservatism.

University of Calgary professor Tom Flanagan originally defined incremental conservatism as “endorsing even very small steps if they are in the right direction, and accepting inaction in areas that can’t feasibly be changed right now, but opposing government initiatives that are clearly going the wrong way.” An informal 10-year plan was then crafted by Harper to shift Canadian conservatism into a positive political force for change – and build a “conservative Canada” in its place.

Harper favoured targeted tax cuts rather than broad-based tax relief. Small private reforms to health care were championed, but a firm commitment to universal health care was maintained. He increased military spending and defended veterans, apologized to Chinese Canadians for the discriminatory Head Tax, supported farmers, amended the vetting process for immigration, and allowed free votes on issues like gay marriage. In foreign policy, Harper took a leadership role in Afghanistan, publicly condemned totalitarian regimes like Syria and Iran, defended Israel and told Russian President Vladimir Putin to “get out of Ukraine” at a G20 meeting in 2014.

Harper won three elections (2006, 2008 and 2011) with incremental conservatism as his guiding force. He showed that Conservative ideas can become part of mainstream thinking in Liberal Canada. Existing myths and concerns some Canadians had about conservatism could also be chipped away and, in many cases, permanently dismantled.

Poilievre has a significant lead among Conservative supporters. A March 15 poll by Angus Reid found he had 54 percent support, followed distantly by Charest (15 percent), Lewis (9 percent) and Brown (5 percent).

If Poilievre becomes the next party leader, he should immediately channel his predecessor’s winning electoral strategy. This would be the perfect counter to Trudeau, a tax-and-spend Liberal who formed a Coalition of the Left to stay in power, and would help make Canada’s Right an attractive political alternative once more.

Michael Taube, a long-time newspaper columnist and political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

Well, it’s that magical time of year again, when we all hunker down in our homes in the face of yet another December COVID onslaught.

True this is somewhat depressing, but on the plus side the isolation gives us an opportunity to ponder things.

For example, right now, in the wake of Erin O’Toole’s disappointing showing, I’m pondering what it would take to create the perfect Conservative leader.

Yes, I know, this is a total waste of time, but hey, it’s a fun holiday exercise.

And right now, with everything that’s going on in the world, we need all the fun we can get, right?

So, let’s begin the frivolity.

First off, I’d argue the perfect Conservative leader would need a strong dose of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s sense of gravitas.

I say that because Harper’s strength as a politician was that he exuded seriousness; he actually had deep intellectual thoughts and was therefore able to offer leadership that went beyond vapid superficial glitz.

I mean, admit it, wouldn’t it be nice to have a political leader again who actually came across as an adult?

Of course, to complement his (or her) seriousness a perfect Conservative leader would also need to manifest former US President Ronald Reagan’s geniality.

Indeed, one chief reason for Reagan’s political success was that people tended to like him and people who liked him also tended to vote for him.

In short, likeability works.

Hence, the perfect Conservative leader would be somber, yet likeable.

Plus, in order to ensure he (or she) got a good hearing in Quebec, the perfect Conservative leader would also have to possess former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s fluency in French.

As a native Quebecor, Mulroney could speak the lingo with more authenticity than any leader who learned the language in French immersion classes.

Besides, as someone whose name escapes me once put it, “immersing yourself in the French language for more than five minutes can be fatal.”

At any rate, another quality a perfect Conservative leader would need in my opinion is the ability to brawl.

After all, politics is a blood sport and if you can’t duke it out in the political arena, odds are good, you’re going to lose.

Just ask Andrew Scheer or Erin O’Toole.

That’s why my perfect Conservative leader would also be imbued with former US President Donald Trump’s willingness to give as good as he got.

As a matter of fact, Trump is a master at concocting what American cartoonist Scott Adams called “linguistic kill shots.”

For example, in 2016 Trump brilliantly dubbed his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton as “Crooked Hillary”.

Sure, it’s not exactly Disraelian-style rhetoric, but it’s effective.

And finally, my perfect Conservative leader would also have a strong commitment to a true conservative ideology, that’s to say a doctrine that stood for “more freedom”, “less government” and “free market” economics.

For this, he (or she) would have to be blessed with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s personal courage and steely determination.

Recall, for example, how in 1980, when she was being urged by powerful voices to abandon her pro-free market agenda, Thatcher famously declared, “To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the ‘U-turn’, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning!”

In other words, just like the “Iron lady”, a perfect Conservative leader would bravely stick by his (or her) principles even if the political situation got rough.

So, there it is, that’s my recipe for a perfect Conservative leader.

Mind you, I’m under no illusions that the media would share my view.

In fact, if my perfect Conservative leader actually existed in reality, I’m certain the Canadian media would hate him (or her) with a red-hot intensity.

But then again, unlike the people who currently run the Conservative Party, pandering to the media’s prejudices is not my top priority.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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Saudi Arabia has North America’s political establishment wrapped around its finger.

Along with Israel, it is one of the few states that can commit almost any offence, and still guarantee the complete, unfettered support from almost any administration, liberal or conservative.

In Canada, for instance, Saudi Arabia reached its zenith of influence during the tenure of former Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

While in office (2006-2015), Harper made the expansion of commercial relations with Saudi Arabia one of his government’s top priorities. That prioritization later bore (poisoned) fruit, when Harper and the Saudis brokered the largest arms deal in Canadian history. It’s a deal Harper still expresses pride in, despite the fact that military arms he sold enabled the Saudis to commit countless atrocities against civilians in neighbouring Yemen.

Nothing can quench Harper’s love affair for the Saudis though. It persists to this day, even in political retirement.

Just this fall, he traveled to Riyadh for a business trip and gushed about the “profound transformation” the Kingdom was experiencing. Most telling, he expressed not one single concern about its mass executions, its crackdown on human rights defenders or its subjugation of women and girls. It was all just fawning praise from the former PM.

Of course, Harper is not the only member of the Conservative Party to cozy up to the Saudis.

Prior to becoming Conservative Party leader, one of Harper’s political lieutenants, Erin O’Toole, pledged in the 2019 election to “win some trust” and increase commercial links with Saudi Arabia. A year before that, another dutiful neophyte, the former Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, appeared on a Saudi-owned television station to chastise Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after his then Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, for tweeting out support for the imprisoned Saudi activist and blogger, Raif Badawi.

It was a disgraceful and dishonourable move on Baird’s part; one that only served to humiliate him and severely damage his integrity, all while highlighting the Liberal’s more principled approach to taking on the Saudis. At that point, the Liberals had shown commendable nerve by suspending the arms deal that they had inherited from the Conservatives, after news broke that the Saudi Crown Prince had arranged for the brutal murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Unfortunately, the Liberal’s grit did not last long. In the face of Saudi pushback, the Liberals quickly abandoned their previous principle and became just as complicit as their Conservative predecessors. In no time at all, they reinstated the permits they had previously suspended and continued the exportation of light armored vehicles, along with sniper riflesexplosives, and other military equipment.

The political situation is much the same south of the border.

Soon after taking office in 2017, former Republican President Donald Trump snubbed traditional allies in Canada and Mexico by selecting Saudi Arabia as the destination for his first foreign trip. His government’s subsequent exportation of more than $8 billion worth of arms to the Saudis, with seemingly no regard for the immense misery and suffering experienced by Yemeni civilians – the disproportionate victims of Riyadh’s unlawful and indiscriminate airstrikes –  was further proof of he (and his party’s) unbecoming allyship with the Gulf Kingdom.

For a time, the election victory of Joe Biden offered a brief moment of hope (just as it did in Canada with Trudeau’s 2015 electoral triumph) that the U.S. might pursue a more just and even-handed approach when dealing with the Saudis. In his first foreign policy speech as President, Biden declared that that the war in Yemen had to end and that his administration would be eliminating “all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arm sales.

As you might have guessed, the public’s optimism didn’t last long.

Within a matter of months of delivering those lofty remarks, Biden had authorized the sale of $650 million of missiles to the Saudi Kingdom, along with hundreds of millions more in U.S. military maintenance for Saudi aircraft.

It was a move entirely out of the Trudeau Liberals’ playbook: promise a more humanitarian foreign policy when it is easy to do so (i.e., before an election) and then renege on your word once in office. Or in Trudeau’s case, after the first threats of financial retribution are made.

As recent history has shown, neither the centrist Liberals and the Democrats, nor the right-wing Conservatives and the Republicans, are capable of pursuing a foreign policy that is complicit-free from the war crimes and human rights abuses committed by the Saudi regime.

With the political establishment in both Canada and U.S. unwilling to stand up against the Saudi regime, it has once again fallen to the members of the public and their political champions on the social democratic left, to stand up against such immorality and demand real policy change from the status quo.

In the U.S., progressive standard-bearers like Democratic Rep. and Squad member Ilhan Omar and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders deserve credit for their legislative attempts to block Biden’s newest arms deal (together with strange political bedfellows, Republican Senators Rand Paul, and Mike Lee).

In Canada, Jagmeet Singh and his left-leaning team of third-party New Democrats deserve equal praise for their steadfast opposition of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, and for their electoral promise in general to ensure that “Canadian-made weapons are not fueling conflict and human rights abuses abroad.”

Whatever their faults, Omar, Sanders, Singh, and their fellow social democrats are at least showing some bravery and morality by speaking out against both the Saudis and their own respective governments for facilitating violence and bloodshed. That in itself is whole lot more honourable than anything on display from the political establishment these days.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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If there existed a political “Ten Commandments” carved in stone tablets, the very first one on the list would likely be “Thou Shalt Not Alienate Thy Base.”

After all, it’s hard to win an election when even your own side doesn’t like you.

Sounds pretty basic, right? Sounds like a concept any leader worth his or her salt would understand.

So why is it then Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole seems intent on making himself as unpopular as possible with his grassroots base?

I mean, just think about what he’s done since taking over the leadership.

For one thing, on a whole range of issues from carbon taxes to gun rights to deficits, O’Toole has blatantly abandoned conservative principles and values to take on policy stances that are essentially indistinguishable from what the Liberals offer.

How could his conservative base, which tends be ideologically-oriented, not feel snubbed by this? The sense of their betrayal is likely even more acute, since during the Conservative Party leadership race, O’Toole had branded himself as a principled conservative and as a champion of the party’s grassroots.

Talk about false advertising!

At any rate, I guess if O’Toole had won the last election, all would have been forgiven.

But, of course, he didn’t win and now discontent with his leadership is simmering within the Conservative Party’s ranks.

In response to this growing anger the wise move for O’Toole, it seems to me, should be for him to offer some sort of olive branch to the base, just to reassure grassroots party members that he’s willing to win back their support.

Instead, however, for some inexplicable reason, he has decided to try and bully his base into submission.

Just recently, for instance, O’Toole, pour encourager les autres, booted Senator Denise Batters from the Conservative caucus after she had the audacity to launch a petition calling for an earlier than scheduled leadership review.

In announcing her expulsion, O’Toole sounded a tough note saying anyone “who’s not putting the team and the country first will not be part of this team.”

Basically, his message seems to this: “It’s my way or the highway and if you don’t like it, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Yet, if he thinks such heavy-handed action will stifle dissent, he’s likely in for a rude awakening.

In fact, it could make his situation even worse, since he’s turned Batters into a martyr, someone who disaffected Tories can now rally around.

On top of that, keep in mind, angry party members have effective ways of protesting against an unpopular leader.

For example, they might start redirecting their party donations to right-wing advocacy groups, or they might stop volunteering for the party or they might stay home on election day or they might end up voting for the People’s Party.

So, in a way, O’Toole’s decision to openly antagonize his base is like a military commander ordering his artillery to bombard his own supply lines.

It just doesn’t make strategic sense.

Mind you, some might say, O’Toole’s acting no differently than former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who also jettisoned certain conservative principles and who also ruled the party with savage discipline.

Yet, O’Toole is no Harper.

True, Harper didn’t always give the party’s ideologues everything they wanted, but he always treated his base with respect.

And for that, he won the loyalty of the rank and file.

That’s a lesson O’Toole should heed.

At any rate, the one possible explanation for O’Toole’s behaviour is that there’s actually a method to his madness, that he actually wants to dig out the party’s ideological roots, that’s he hoping hard-core conservatives will abandon his party.

Indeed, it has been suggested to me that O’Toole’s overall game plan is basically to water down the party’s ideology until it’s nothing but an idealess, wishy-washy, non-confrontational, conservative-in-name-only political entity; a Conservative party, in short, that lacks conservatives.

This he hopes will make his party more appealing to the media and more attractive to Liberal voters.

If that indeed is O’Toole’s plan, then he is taking a mighty big gamble.

As American conservative activist Morton Blackwell once noted “you cannot make friends of your enemies by making enemies of your friends.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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There are many words to describe Canada’s $15 billion arms deal with the human-rights abusing, war crimes committing regime of Saudi Arabia.

‘Disgraceful’ is one. ‘Reprehensible’ would be another. ‘Immoral’ and ‘inexcusable’ also come to mind. So too does ‘shameful’ and ‘sordid’.

As for how everyday Canadians feel about said deal, I’m sure the words ‘appalled’ and ‘mortified’ would not be far from their lips, especially after learning that Riyadh is using Canadian-made arms to perpetuate its war in Yemen; a war, which let us not forget, has resulted in the death of a quarter of a million people – ten thousand of whom have been children. With millions more displaced and on the brink of starvation, the battleground in Yemen has long been referred to as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

In the face of such calamity (and with the knowledge of our governments culpability for that calamity), most Canadians probably aren’t feeling too proud of their country’s arms sales.

Well, most Canadians outside Stephen Harper that is.

In a recent post on twitter, Harper announced his plans to tour the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, all to promote “Israeli-based surveillance systems.” After heaping praise upon the three Gulf countries, Harper egregiously wrote of the pride he has for the military contract he brokered with the Saudis.

In typical fashion, Harper omitted the fact that the contract in question, the one that he is so “proud” of, enabled the Saudis to obtain hundreds of Canadian-made, light-armoured vehicles (LAVs), which they subsequently used to lay-waste upon Yemen.

Instead, Harper had the nerve to describe the deal as nothing other than a “manufacturing contract” though he still lauded it as the most lucrative of its kind in Canadian history.

The $15 billion LAV sale may indeed be Canada’s largest export manufacturing contract, as Harper says it is. But that does not make the deal any less odious, as no amount of financial profit or number of jobs secured can ever justify the facilitation of violence and war.

Granted, that has not stopped Harper from defending the deal, both in and out of office.

During his final years as Prime Minister, when Canada’s military agreement with the Saudis was first being brokered, Harper tried his best to justify the deal, including by citing the Gulf Kingdom’s opposition to the Islamic state as cause for selling them arms. He continued to do so even as reports were coming in saying that “the LAVs that Canada had already sold to Saudi Arabia had been used in Bahrain when Saudi Arabia went in there to suppress a peaceful demonstration.”

Six years later, and Harper is still making the same weak justifications for the deal. In his twitter communique, Harper claimed that Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is “grounded in shared opposition to the threat posed to the region and wider world by the regime in Iran.

Do you see the pattern here? Harper can absolve himself of all blame for the ruination of Yemen and the subjugation of the Saudi people, so long as he can point the finger at the Islamic State, Iran, or any other regime that he can use to justify his selling of arms to Riyadh. He picks and chooses the countries whose human rights records concern him, as defined by his own narrow worldview.

So unflinching is he in his beliefs, that even if Iran didn’t exist, the former Prime Minister would just fabricate a new enemy in its place to explain and excuse his unbending support for the Crown Prince. He’d find any way he could to not see the flaws in his own thinking, or the culpability he has for the devastation of Yemen.

No matter the human rights abuses and war crimes that pile up, Harper will only continue his defence of Saudi Arabia and the noxious arms deal he brokered.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.