April 13, 2006


Oh no! Harper said the G-word (Warren Kinsella, April 13, 2006, National Post)

At the conclusion of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's March 28 speech to the Conservative Party's national caucus, and his March 13 speech to our troops in Afghanistan, God is acknowledged, and His assistance is sought. "God bless Canada," said the Prime Minister on both of those occasions. And Mr. Harper has used those words many other times since.

To say that the Prime Minister's invocation has stirred up media hysteria would be too strong. But quite a few media observers -- and not just the heartless atheist ones, either -- have expressed disdain for the Prime Minister's littlest of prayers.

In a pre-election column in the Montreal Gazette, writer Sue Montgomery was scathing. "This brings to mind [Harper's] buddy south of the border, George W. Bush, who sees the Lord, not the constitution, as his guide," wrote Montgomery. "This should be the first red flag to Canadians set to elect Harper as prime minister that we are in for the right wing ride of our lives."

The Vancouver Sun's Barbara Yaffe was a bit less critical in a February opinion piece, but perturbed, nonetheless. "Lord protect me for saying this, but any reference to God or people's prayers should be curtailed by Harper. Canadians don't mix religion with their politics ... it's crass."

Even international media organizations were unimpressed. Le Figaro and Liberation observed that the words rendered Mr. Harper too Bush-like. Le Figaro went so far as to caution the Conservative leader that "at the slightest misstep, Quebecers will throw themselves into the arms of the sovereignists."

Finally, in the pages of the Toronto Star, Linda McQuaig was highly agitated by it all. "Is it just me, or does anyone else find it ominous that Harper says 'God bless Canada' ... deliberately aping the most unsavoury president in U.S. history?"

Yes, Linda. It is just you. No one else finds it ominous in the slightest.

Indeed, some find it a hopeful sign that Canada may remain part of the Anglosphere.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 13, 2006 2:48 PM

Does anyone else find it absolutely adorable the way that these Canadian pundits pretend that George W. Bush invented the phrase "God bless America," and that Bill Clinton never said it? It's so cute the way they ignore facts in order to bolster their fantasies, just like the grown-up media in America. Almost like they're a real country.

Posted by: Timothy at April 13, 2006 2:54 PM

Harper "aped" Chimpy McBushitler? Oooo, subtle.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 13, 2006 4:04 PM

God save the Queen.

Posted by: Dave at April 13, 2006 5:24 PM

Kinsella is both a liberal and a Liberal, so this has authority. I'm not under any illusions that Canada is becoming Kansas, but my goodness, it feels so good to see this kind of impatience with the chattering righteous who terrorized us for so long. There really is a fresh breeze blowing even if no one seems to be able to articulate it. It's too early to say whether the Conservative victory is pro-American, but it sure as heck is a rejection of Euro-think and leftist cant.

BTW, for you Canadian buffs, I've noticed that since the election the press never refers to the new government as "Tory", the Conservative pet name since the year dot. It's like they know these aren't your grandfather's conservatives. Mark of respect?

Posted by: Peter B at April 13, 2006 7:32 PM

I've always thought of "Tory", in any country, as being more like the '70s Ford/Michael GOP. "Go along to get along" know your place and be satisfied with it, and if you end up in power, defer to your betters while it lasts.

And it does sound like Harper isn't embracing that model.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 13, 2006 8:19 PM

having a friendly government up north is nice -- have you seen any change in attitudes towards the U.S. in your friends and colleagues ?

Posted by: toe at April 13, 2006 9:18 PM


More like relief that we're headed back to the timeless big brother/kid brother fractious closeness.

Actually, even in the dark days, Canadians always scored highest in favourable attitudes towards Americans, at least until the Indians displaced us. A lot of people were very upset about the public bashing (after all, those M.P.'s and PM advisors who did it lost their jobs), without really knowing how to speak our about it. No way to tell for sure, but Martin's hypocritical shot at Bush over Kyoto seemed to be the last straw for many and there were only pro forma protests about electoral interference when your ambassador jumped in. Outright philo-Americanism is a tough case for a politician to make publically for obvious existential reasons, but there are rules up here. You can whine about Americans all you want, but you don't let it get personal, do it in front of the rest of the world, boo the anthem or leave them in the lurch. Which I think is pretty standard in the Anglosphere.

In a similar vein, when I was doing a guest stint in the Canadian Foreign Ministry in the eighties, there was an unstated operating principle that the shrewder officers understood corresponded to what the public wanted in our foreign policy: "Talk like a European, act like an American."

Posted by: Peter B at April 14, 2006 5:59 AM

glad to hear it is not like europe regarding anti-americanism. i think most Americans are pretty fond of Canada, which ironically would cause them to react much more strongly were they to decide that the feeling was un-requitted.

personally i don't understand the animus towards the U.S. (from your side of the coin) but then again I can see where the un-responsiveness of the u.s. government might cause offense. if it's any consolation they (u.s. govt) don't listen to me, either :)

Posted by: toe at April 14, 2006 3:43 PM