Rafe- Tories will win in 2015 on Iraq position; what does that mean for Canada, environment

Rafe: Tories will win in 2015 on Iraq position; what does that mean for Canada, environment?

Rafe- Tories will win in 2015 on Iraq position; what does that mean for Canada, environment
Stephen Harper addressing UN Security Council (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

The environmental policy of Ottawa will now depend upon what the Tories desire for the next five years.

Why do I say that?

Because their position on Iraq is the correct one and will win them the 2015 election. Canadians simply cannot abandon 100,000 Christians who will be killed if they don’t convert to Islam. They cannot ignore the creation of a new state made up of wild-eyed religious nuts prepared to decapitate those who don’t agree with them.

Proposed intervention gets the usual knee-jerk reaction from the NDP, laced with an overdose of anti-Americanism. The Liberals, under an immature Trudeau, who like the Bourbons has learned nothing and forgotten nothing, vacillates more with the desire to get votes than to do the right thing.

To blame the United States exclusively for the present situation is nonsense. To assess blame, one has to go back to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the disgraceful Sykes-Picot secret agreement between Britain and France in 1916 where Turkish possessions were carved up. Iraq’s problems did not start yesterday.

What does this is mean for our precious environment?

It’s like Steven Leacock once said – the man that fell in love with the dimple made the mistake of marrying the entire girl. We are stuck with the entire Tory policy.

The Tory environment position is, predictably, simple-minded as propagated in my constituency by Tory MP John Weston who carps on about “process”. As long as there is a “scientific inquiry”, whatever the hell that might mean, with a limited ability of the public to speak, this is “process” – all that’s required.

“Process” has become the buzzword. When Harper eliminated protection for fish habitat a couple of years ago, Weston was enthusiastic because this meant there would be “process” before the fish were destroyed.

The “process” of ignoring public

Our publisher, Damien Gillis, and I have had many opportunities to watch “process” at work. It means one or two public hearings where the public can ask questions of the company about the environmental impact of a proposal without the ability to express opinions. It follows that the opinions they do possess mean absolutely nothing and are not taken into account ever.

Look at the National Energy Board – which is to say the government – stonewalling oral questions to Kinder Morgan by the public, to see what Tory “process” is all about. Imagine forbidding cross-examination in a courtroom! If that’s “process”, the Soviet “show trials” of the 1930s were paragons of litigious virtue.


An obvious question: If we’re not to have real input into these environmental exercises, what are we, the caring public, to do for the next five years when faced with proposed environmental development we wish to question and have meaningful input into?

Google “safe fracking”

The Tory government’s medieval approach is not just confined to the blatherings of Weston, who no doubt reflects their policy accurately, but with nonsense like the recent pronouncement of the Minister of Finance, no less, Joe Oliver, who advised us to Google “safe fracking”, and we would see that there is indeed “safe fracking”! This is the extent of “scientific” examination, apparently, practiced by this government.

Where I live, people on Howe Sound are horrified at the thought of an LNG plant in Squamish and a gravel pit – would you believe that? – at McNab Creek, an important salmon river. It appears that approval for these two horrendous undertakings are “slam dunks”, although the people are up in arms. What do we do when these approvals come?

Console ourselves with the thought that some industry “scientists” have looked at the matter? Do we feel warm and fuzzy all over that the companies held public meetings to dispense their propaganda and take questions, not on whether or not the undertaking should go ahead, but to give them friendly suggestions?

The government is banking on us to be law-abiding citizens revolted at the thought of civil disobedience.

Tories living in the past

As usual, the Tories are living deep in the past. They have not been paying attention. People who normally wouldn’t cross the road to protest anything are taking to the streets in great numbers. There’s no longer the respect for either government or the legal “process” of which Tories seem so proud.

Once upon a time, people respected what governments said – when large corporations were taken to be honest, bent only on creating jobs and prosperity for the community.

Those days are long gone and that didn’t happen by some sudden public cynicism but by blatant and mindless rape of the environment for shareholder profit, not just tolerated, but encouraged by governments.

Where is it written that we must, as with the Tar Sands, destroy our environment, bring disease and reduced employment to surrounding peoples and decimate wildlife so that we can sell oil to Asia? If one applied “real world” accounting principles to this undertaking, would it really make sense? Especially if we took into account the cost of environmental degradation and the diminution of the natural beauty of which we are so proud and from which we derive so much pleasure, not to mention tourists?

Don’t expect a straight answer

Because they’ve got away with murder all these years, industry and government, not required to, are unable to tell the truth. They have been fooling of the public for eons and see no reason to end a winning formula.

People are no longer prepared to put up with the tendentious nonsense spouted by Mr. Weston and his government and are demanding proper environmental hearings where their opinions are not only sought but taken into account in the decision-making process – in short, honest “process”.

For the next five years then we’ll likely have to endure a government that believes that “process” denying a real voice to you and me will carry on.

We have, then, a choice – either we sit back and take it or we protest. To protest means that we must consider and where appropriate, practice civil disobedience.

This rubs against the grain for many law-abiding Canadians, but history teaches us that this is the only way you ever get the attention of brain-dead governments and rapacious industry that deny fairness.

It’s not a pleasant choice but I fear it’s the choice we’re going to have to make and in the not-too-distant future.

Watch this video of the flawed public “process” surrounding the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant in Howe Sound:


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

18 thoughts on “Rafe: Tories will win in 2015 on Iraq position; what does that mean for Canada, environment?

  1. Rafe: With respect to your opinion that we should be (again) shipping our young men into a war that will never be won, I just wanted you to know that I consider Harper a wild-eyed religious nut, so hey, I think we have a major war to win at home. He may not have ordered bombing our wonderful country yet, but he is doing as much damage as he can that will eventually end up looking just like the vast middle east that has been continuously bombed for how many years now? Just my 50 cents worth.

  2. If Canadians are really as trite as Rafe’s analysis , maybe they’ve also overlooked the multitude of anti-Canadian manipulations Harper has tried to affect on behalf of un-(a-, non-, anti-, meta-, dys- take your pick-) -patriotic, stateless corporatists…but I think there’s plenty of evidence that argues against it. Don’t get me wrong: Canadians can be pretty politically stupid sometimes—that’s how we got Christy Clark in BC, and how we allowed Harper to win by default last time (he never would have won a majority, and maybe not even a minority, had so many Liberals, disaffected by their own illegitimately appointed leader, not sat the election out)—and I’ve no doubt that the majority of us do not fully appreciate the environmental crisis Harper’s plunging us into, but his own disaffecting antics are much broader than just the environment.

    The Harper Conservatives, neo-rightists who deserve neither that title, nor the name “Tory”, are, despite having to resort to attack ads, strict parliamentary vote-whipping, electoral vote-rigging, campaign financing fraud and riding-boundary gerrymandering, fast becoming that dreaded, inevitable caricature of themselves: tired, worn-out, dull and boring—so much so that even Justin Trudeau contrasts favourably overall (compared to areas of strategy, economy and policy where he does not–which illustrates how the passage of Harper’s best-before-date now dominates public perception, and explains the extraordinary measures he now must deploy to compensate.) In any case, Harper’s base attrits geriatrically more than it recruits from boomers or their now-voting-age spawn (again requiring the same extraordinary compensations.) But this natural decline is imprecisely articulated and diversely manifest among the electorate. There is, however, a more palpable charge against this government: the lack of national patriotism which verges on sedition.

    I don’t think anything Harper has done has as palpably rankled Canadians as much as his overt attempts at eroding national patriotism. Certainly it registered negatively and viscerally among veterans, the Conservative condescension of whom seemed, incredibly, to dismiss their special —indeed, defining and requisite characteristic—loyalty to Queen and country. Considering their organizational expertise and dutiful resolve in any undertaking, now committed to coordinate an Anybody-But-Harper campaign, it has to be about the dumbest thing the Conservatives have done yet; and veterans used to count as reliable Conservative supporters, too! Jeez!

    The encore to Veteran’s Affairs Minister Fantino’s bizarre string of snubs and insolent belittling of veterans’ native and sworn sensitivity to all things patriotic, the negative reaction to Harper’s Temporary Foreign Worker program basically pushed the same button, this time raising patriotic ire even more broadly, challenging, as it did, Canadian workers who looked about to be displaced by cheaper TFWs authorized as a favour to multinational profiteers. Oft times sleepy Canadian voters, thus aroused, have started to see a broad pattern of policies—veterans affairs, TFWs, pipelines, FIPA and other secret trade deals, melting Arctic ice (as it pertains to national sovereignty), etc.—that fit neatly under the heading of “threats to national sovereignty and national patriotism.” And as worrying for Harper’s Conservatives, a growing number of urban myths, conspiracy theories, warranted or not— it hardly matters—seem to plausibly connect these unpatriotic offences to a great number of facilitating Conservative policies, like muzzling scientists, hobbling environmental review, smearing all First Nations (think Attawapiskat) in preparation for the pipeline battle in BC (where particular FNs are the principal obstacle), attacking or cynically manipulating iconic national institutions, from the Senate, to the Supreme Court, to the Office of the Governor General; even the Constitution, the legal soul of this country, has been repeatedly disrespected and challenged for Harper’s partisan purpose. Yet nothing has more cogently synthesized the numerous, consistent and intentional attacks on national patriotism, nor conscripted so diverse a group of Canadians rightly opposed, than the Harper agenda.

    Contrary to Conservative theology, which exalts its leader as an infallibly shrewd political strategist of unsurpassed genius, the objective assessment of his government’s achievements replays like a worst-alltime-fail compilation: mired in opposition whilst picking fights with “rich galas” in a consequently offended Quebec; refusing to nominate erstwhile Conservative Chuck Cadman who thrashed Steve’s hand-picked guy as an Independent and went on to save Paul Martin’s minority; picking and losing a fight with Danny Williams, who effectively turned Newfoundland into a Progressive-Only Zone; repeating government 101 with a second minority and thereby pushing his pet pipeline project off the story board; picking a fight with Attawapiskat in an attempt to discredit all First Nations before riding roughshod over BC—only to foment the Idle-No-More movement, effectively enlisting once-disaffected FN voters, now politically activated like never before, the bitter taste of insincerity lingering while his official apology for residential schools was still fresh; the failure to take down Insight safe-injection facility by sicking his god on it, and again, failure to deprive patients of medical marijuana; picking fights with supposedly “activist” judges, only to receive international opprobrium from the legal community—and getting to watch judges dismiss pot cultivation charges rather than apply his mandatory minimum sentences; his inability to cow the Chief Electoral Officer into endorsing field-tilting Elections Act changes; Senator revolt instead of promised Senate reform; and what about those fighter jets? and on and on…this government, with the lowest legislative productivity in history, has been lacklustre at best, often accomplished by stealth (BC’s failed HST), dirty tricks (electoral fraud convictions, robo-calls, corrupted re-counts, etc.) or deception (Conservative scribes redacted his default majority win into a Saint Steve myth, a heroic slaying of the Liberal dragon). His cynical token patriotism, partly or totally misappropriated British history, like $28 million-worth of War of 1812 ceremonies, and hanging portraits of the Queen here and there, seem laughably naive substitutes for the real thing; The recent Frankilin photo-op begs the question: what about that promised ice-breaker fleet? It has apparently melted down to one, as yet still in dry-dock.

    A record of flops and failures like this desperately needs a distraction and the current war in Iraq conveniently comes to hand. But the inherent unpredictability of this perennial hot spot makes it an unruly basis for a methodical build toward successful incumbency. I say it probably won’t, or can’t, work. Neither can it hide or atone for misguided policies, most of which have been unmitigated failures. Perhaps Rafe’s also taking advantage of the ISIS crisis to kind of scare us with the horrid spectre of another Harper win while Mother Nature lies ravished and dying. Well, If it convinces even one person (and I really hope it will do better than that) to vote for the candidate or party most likely to defeat the Conservatives, I guess that’s OK, but I strongly suspect enough antipathy has already accumulated against Saint Steve— the genius, deluded by sycophantic think tanks and misguided religion—to deprive him of even a minority. The new kid on the block, comparing favourably to Steve’s geriatric “base”, his string of spectacular failures and surpassed best-before-date are probably sufficient—but nothing can really top his ultimate loyalty to stateless corporate profiteering over the once, and soon to be again, best country in the world, Canada. The environment is penultimately important, but the electorate is only human, unable, as ever, to fully know the unknowable; instead, national patriotism, the human conception of it has become the most potent common denominator against the Harper neo-rightists. Ironically we have the haddock-eyed prince to thank for that.

    Who do you love?

  3. If someone would inform Canadians about Harpers Canada/China trade deal there’s no way he’d be reelected !

  4. What, then, to do about the situation? Abandon the
    Kurds who had, with considerable patience and courage, gained a high measure of autonomy? Abandon the majority of Iraquis who, whether Shia, Sunni or Christian are terrified of IS? Will Iran not be next?

    Yes, the US has a lot to answer for as do, in their day, the UK and France. Does that mean we automatically refuse to support them whatever?

    What I find appalling is that the Liberals and NDP were scarcely caught by surprise yet, shorn of rhetoric, it was the usual “play to the peanut gallery” knee jerk anti Americanism that was at the root of Mulcair’s position.

    Trudeau was simply bereft of ideas that made sense and was plain inarticulate,

    The purpose of the article was to point out that this bankruptcy of practical opposition meant 5 more years of the autocrat and his brain dead right wingers like Joe Oliver, a horrible prospect for the environment especially in BC

  5. My Christian neighbor gets glazed over eyes when telling me I’m going to hell because I live in a common-law relationship.

    Burning in hell for eternity, its no wonder I’m not feeling the love reading your article.

  6. I disagree Rafe both with your prognostication and the reasoning. Harper will not win in 2015, and most Canadians do NOT want us to be involved in another American imbroglio in the Middle East. By this time next year it will be clear the west cannot win, and mission creep will likely be costing Canadian lives and hundreds of millions of dollars of our taxes will be wasted. If Canadians are stupid enough to believe that sending our young people to die fighting an organization created by the USA, Britain, Canada and NATO, still being supplied with advanced weapons from the west, in countries halfway ’round the world is the right choice, based on propaganda, and they want to re-elect the Harpercon criminals simply because of that, then they will get what they deserve and I, for one, will disavow Canada and leave.

  7. Well, as a former consrvative voter i will NOT be voting for the Conservative party in the next election.
    My reasons are many, Ominbus Bills rammed through Parliament, secret trade agreements with China, the emasculation of forestry, fisheries, scientists and the enforcement of the same, pipelines, fracking, and on and on and on.
    I think the Iraq “scenario” is a bit of a stretch, most voters dont give two thoughts about what happens in the Middle East

    Mr Harper doesnt deserve a majority and my fervent hope is he will either be the leader of a minority coalition govt where other parties can control him OR he’s booted from the leadership after a resounding defeat .
    The ignominious end of a failed politician.
    Ejected by his own party.
    I can dream cant I?

  8. Good article, I’d say, except for comments about war and Harper party, which I’m reluctant to call Tory—more like Alliance Party. I don’t think he’ll win based on position on war and Iraq etc, I think most Canadians who vote get it that every time we march into or kill from above in another part of the world, our security and the general level of violence in the world increases. And Iraq now is no exception. I think it will hurt him at the polls.

  9. The NDP and the Liberal position is more nuanced than simply whether or not the military intervention is necessary. I think both parties will come out ahead of the cons. I have to believe the electorate are finally paying attention and will see through the hawkish nonsense sure to come out of Harper’s gob.

  10. “Canadians simply cannot abandon 100,000 Christians who will be killed if they don’t convert to Islam.” – Rafe

    Is this hard “intel”, Rafe? I think not. This kind of “crusader mentality” is what I would expect from the fundamentalist Mr Harper but not from you. Yes, I have no doubt Christians are being and will be killed during this conflict but I also weep for the dead Muslims and for the millions, from all the “great religions”, who will die this year due to conflict, disease or malnutrition. Many in Canada.

    Before we act, let’s try to understand the situation on the ground. Then, if based on a clear set of objectives, it makes sense to get involved…so be it.

    As your esteemed colleague Brian Stewart pointed out in a recent CBC article:
    “One striking similarity between Canada’s first combat mission to Iraq and our long, draining involvement in the Afghan war is the almost total lack of credible military intelligence at the outset.

    We knew almost nothing about the Taliban for years, even as we began fighting them, and WE KNOW EVEN LESS ABOUT ISIS NOW.”

    As a reminder, and a bit of a change of subject, keep in mind that Mr. Harper’s record on the environment MUST be in part due to his belief that Christ will return to the earth in human form to lead a 1000 year golden age with Steven Harper at his side. No need for long term thinking.

    Exclusionary religious thinking, Muslim or Christian are at the root of so many of the worlds current problems.

  11. Harper and his cronies have learnt nothing from History. From the Crusades on no Western intervention in the Middle East has succeeded. I see no reason to think that this latest one will be any more successful. No doubt we shall soon be told that “boots on the ground” are necessary.

  12. “Because their position on Iraq is the correct one and will win them the 2015 election. Canadians simply cannot abandon 100,000 Christians who will be killed if they don’t convert to Islam. They cannot ignore the creation of a new state made up of wild-eyed religious nuts prepared to decapitate those who don’t agree with them.”

    Interesting point of view.

    Harper will not win the 2015 election.

    Further, the West needs to save the Christians in Iraq, BUT we use Islam rebel groups to attack the Christian government in Syria.

    Wild eyed religious nuts…..hmmm

    “The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved — Judaism, Christianity, Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal — God is the Omnipotent Father — hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is in place not for just one tribe but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good. Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god’s purpose.”
    –Gore Vidal, Harvard University, April 20, 1992

    Since 1945 the US has interfered with more than 220 countries either overtly, or covertly, and many of those countries have had democratically elected governments; elected by the citizens of those countries.

    And now Harper has made Canada a party to that. The interference and military coup that disposed the first democratically elected Aristides in Haiti is a good example.

    If the Canadian government is willing to interfere in other countries’ business, then we should not be surprised when another country like China, for example, begins to interfere with Canada.

  13. I don’t pretend to know what the future may hold but the conservatives stance on Iraq seems to be to follow Obama and now that strategy seems to be failing. They seem to be using George Bush tactics now to scare Canadians which is failing also.
    Lets not forget the old Duff will be coming along shortly to add to the dynamics.
    I wouldn’t bet,if I were a betting man, that they have five more years. At least I hope not!

  14. Nobody was contemplating military action as ISIS was beheading people en masse for 3 years, until a few of the victims were a) Western, b) videotaped and c) broadcast, so the idea that this “just couldn’t be ignored” doesn’t even hold up to elementary scrutiny. The fact is, we don’t get involved in atrocities across the world all the time or we’d be in several dozen places and have ground troops in the Congo, because intervention doesn’t just depend on a moral assessment, but a realistic and dispassion analysis of what can realistically be accomplished. Terrorists aren’t stupid over there, and you can be sure they were trying to provoke.an emotional response rather than a rational one when they broadcast those videos of Western beheadings. Reports have documented that their recruitment has really gotten a shot in the arm since bombing began.

  15. too many Canadians are living in the past and think of the Cons as the old PCs which is why they hang out at senior centres during election mode
    there is much nostalgia for Canada and its role in WW 2 which Tories ride on too:
    however, if veterans continue to protest and the Canada Post business is not dealt with the Harper govt will be long short of a majority
    Civil disobedience is not appreciated by Harper supporters and maybe even the public in general so perhaps we should be out there now and hold back just before the election
    I think the worldwide Climate Action has created an opening in the usual sclerosed Canadian thought for more awareness on the environment .Wishful thinking? Maybe.I do see some change in consumer purchases which reflects a degree of awareness
    Divestment is happening too.
    The NDP needs to show how they can take care of “the economy”
    Justin still polls quite high .Good looking guy eh!

    1. Wow!
      Thats a good reason to vote for Justin Trudeau because he’s ‘ A good looking guy eh!”
      “Baby” Trudeau couldnt hold a conversation with a 10 year old unless his handlers were whispering the correct responses in his ear.
      A former drama teacher with zero qualifications other than his last name. Pathetic if it wasnt so sad.
      Our choices in the next election.
      Harper who ruthlessly demands total obedience from his caucus.
      Trudeau who cant form an opinion on anything without Coles notes.
      Mulcair who is anti anything that the Conservatives or Liberals want.
      The same old political drivel shovelled off the manure wagon every 5 years

      Once just once I’d like to see ” None of the above” on the ballot sheet. If N.O.T.A. wins………let accountants balance the books and the rest of the countless billions can be spend by referendum.
      Sell the Parliament buildings to the Holiday Inn hotel chain and turn CBC buildings into homeless shelters. A far better bang for the buck.
      Dontcha think?

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