More and more often these days conservative-minded Americans look to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for principled leadership.
This is an inversion of the traditional order of things. For all of my adult life up until very recently, Canada stood as a prime example of socialism, progressive thinking, permissiveness, socialism, bloated public spending, support for Castro’s Cuba, and socialism. Persecuted American Communists or draft dodgers fled to Canada for succor.
All that has changed. Yesterday Mr. Harper received the annual “World Statesman” award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in New York for being a “champion of democracy, freedom and human rights”. And that’s not the sort of “human rights” that the UN and Amnesty International are always bleating about, but the more robust kind that conservatives champion.
Below are excerpts from Stephen Harper’s acceptance speech in New York. Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this video:
The European take on Mr. Harper was epitomized by Deutsche Welle, whose headline told its readers that “Critics deplore Canada’s shift to the right”. It also informed them that the prime minister’s “approval ratings at home are plummeting”, and then quoted from his critics among street protesters to prove its point.
But The Toronto Sun was more upbeat. This is the text of an editorial published in today’s edition of the paper:
Harper proves worthy of statesman prize
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper received the World Statesman award this week in New York, he purposely snubbed the United Nations by turning down an opportunity to speak to its General Assembly.
This should make Canadians proud.
Instead of blindly accepting that malevolent regimes like Iran would eventually surrender to sanctions and diplomatic overtures, he preceded his trip by boldly kicking Iran’s diplomatic spies out of Ottawa and closing down Canada’s embassy in Tehran.
The left booed; we cheered.
And then he thumbed his nose at the UN, a venue which has turned into a bully pulpit for every neurotic dictator on the planet to spew hatred, dismiss human rights abuses, show utter contempt for western values and, if clinically mad like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denying it is developing a nuclear saber but rattling it nonetheless at Israel.
This is called leading by example.
It was somewhat pitiful, however, to watch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resort to displaying a cartoon of a bomb at the UN to stress the dire straits of his country if a “red line” is not drawn against Iran.
Pitiful, but understandable.
But if Netanyahu thought Harper was going to up the ante on Iran by supporting his demand of U.S. President Barack Obama to threaten imminent war with Iran if its nuclear program persists, he went home disappointed.
Harper had already drawn his own line.
While breaking all diplomatic relations with Iran sent a strong message, Harper knows Canada’s place on the world stage as well as its limits.
“Our country has not been shy about warning the world about the danger that the Iranian regime ultimately presents to all of us,” Harper said, before dusting off reporters, and making no reference to Netanyahu’s red line.
“But we want to see a peaceful resolution to all this.”
As Henry Kissinger said of Harper in presenting him with the World Statesman award, “he has the courage to affirm his views even when they are not shared by all — and be proved correct by events.”
Not only did Harper get a trophy to back this up, he also got a chance to slag the UN.
All in all, not a bad day.