Independence Day: an excellent moment to remember Stephen Harper is no ‘Tory’

Posted on July 04, 2015, 3:00 am
7 mins

PHOTOS: Today is Independence Day in the United States, and also in Texas, where this photo was snapped. Below: Stephen Harper, not a Tory, unlike John A. Macdonald, below him, who was. Below both of them, a Hessian soldier gets ready to load up and shoot at an American insurgent. Only the Hessians’ pants were yellow.

Today is Independence Day, the Fourth of July, the date on which our American cousins celebrate their successful 18th Century rebellion, which technically won them the right to decline to bow or curtsey to any monarch who does not have a working connection with the entertainment industry.

This day, on which the Stars ’n’ Stripes flies proudly all across the continent, including along many roads in far southern Alberta, notwithstanding the presence of large numbers of social democrats in Edmonton, is also an excellent opportunity for Canadians to remind themselves of why Stephen Harper and the political party he heads have no business calling themselves Tories.

harper-cowboyWhile notion of Tories, in the English tradition, had its beginnings among the royalist faction in the English Civil War of 1639 to 1651, in the North American context it normally refers to the Loyalists of British North America who eschewed American secessionism during the so-called War of Independence.

Alert readers of history will recall that this conflict, also known as the American Revolutionary War, began in 1775 and resulted in the recognition of the independence of the United States by everyone who mattered in the Treaty of Paris of 1783.

This freed our neighbors from the tyranny of -our words, which, it must be conceded was a positive outcome for them. This all happened long before the phrase “The King of Rock ’n’ Roll, long may he reign” meant anything to anyone.

It also allowed the treasonous and newly confident American revolutionaries to hurl the term “Tories” at their patriotic fellow-Americans as venomous political invective. Those Tories who were not murdered for their loyalty to the Crown were robbed and driven from their homes. They landed in British North America, that part of the continent we now call Canada, as what we would term political refugees today.

Not surprisingly, these early Tories and their descendants became fierce Canadians, conservative in the best and most proper sense of that word – that is to say, determined to conserve those things in our society that are of value.

macdonald-bio-portraitbBy association, in this country “Tory” became honourable shorthand for the Conservative Party of John A. Macdonald, fiercely protectionist builders of Canada, and by near-apostolic succession the line of Conservatives of prime ministers through John Diefenbaker and Joe Clark, and arguably even unto Brian Mulroney.

But Stephen Harper and his gang, what’s left of it? Tories? Or, for that matter, even conservatives? Not a chance!

These are not the conservative descendants of the Empire Loyalists, faithful to Canada and the True North, Strong and Free.

Mr. Harper’s Conservatives are a Republicanized neoliberal wrecking crew, loyal only to the concept of globalization, worshippers of every American idea except the good ones, who engineered the Invasion of the Party Snatchers that undid the honorable old Progressive Conservative Party in 2003 and have been hard at work dismantling everything else of value Canada produced ever since.

Indeed, they despise Canada. As Mr. Harper famously commented in December 2000, Canada isn’t the finest, freest place on the planet, it’s nothing but “a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status.”

HESSIAN-JPGGiven that conviction, the government now setting up shop in Edmonton must give him the vapours!

Whether it is their faith in American political institutions such as elected upper houses, fixed election dates and term limits (although only when convenient), and the separation of powers, their love for the worst features of the American economic system, their hatred of civil collective action, or their reliance on U.S.-style wedge issues such as attacks on the abortion rights of Canadian women and sensible gun-control policies, they have pursued a radical policy agenda since the reverse hostile takeover of the PC Party by the Reform Party in 2003.

The theft of the grand old Canadian political designation Tory by Mr. Harper and what should properly be called “the American Party of Canada,” done with the connivance of a cadre of lazy newspaper headline writers, must have Mr. Macdonald, our first prime minister of any political persuasion, spinning like a top in his grave! The site of his grave, readers will note, is in Kingston.

As to the oft-repeated complaint that Canadians define themselves as who they are not, that is to say so-called Americans, one can only respond that it was the Americans who started that, wasn’t it, when they ran the real Tories out of town on a rail?

Surely Independence Day 2015 is as good a moment as any to formally begin the process of returning Canadian values to the governance of Canada?

This post also appears on The author’s first ancestor on this continent, Johann Heinrich Kleimenhagen, was one of the 30,000 German “Hessian” troops who served the British Crown in the fight against American insurgents in the Revolutionary War. He returned to North America after his service was over and ended up in Upper Canada circa 1793.

7 Comments to: Independence Day: an excellent moment to remember Stephen Harper is no ‘Tory’

  1. David

    July 4th, 2015

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  2. Expat Ablertan

    July 4th, 2015

    Great post, Dave. It underscores what I mentioned in a comment to an earlier story – that we should find a new nickname for the current Conservative Party, since they cannot be called Tories. My suggestion is ‘Nibs’, a contraction of ‘neo’ and ‘liberal’.

    By the way, why doesn’t anybody refer to the Liberals as ‘Grits’ any more? After all, we call the NDP ‘dippers’.

  3. anonymous

    July 4th, 2015

    “…the government now setting up shop in Edmonton must give [Harper] the vapours!”

    Gotta love those ‘our’ words. The Harperites (apart from third party lackies) have been suspiciously quiet about the recent developments in Alberta. Peter Mackay’s description of the ‘Tory’ caucus meeting held shortly after the Alberta election as being ‘morgue like’ kind of says it all. And the fact that Mr. Mackay decided to ‘spend more time with my family’ shortly after that caucus meeting is an exclamation point. In fact, it seems that the ‘spend more time with my pension, er, family’ bug is sweeping the Harperite ranks these days.

  4. ronmac

    July 4th, 2015

    Yes by all means let’s celebrate the US 4th July, the day commemorating how a group of slave owners in the 13 colonies came together and created a marvelous document called the US constitution whose opening line reads “all men are created equal”

    It’s also useful to note while we celebrate Independence Day the US has become the greatest enemy of sovereignty on earth. The planet has become a grazing ground to US corporations. Got a leader who puts their own national interests first? Well he or she has to go. What’s this world coming to? China?

    We all know about Stephen Harper’s anti-Canada rant. This attitute extends to all three political parties. A few years ago the Liberal Partyt braintrust went down to Harvard to persudae somebody who spent most of his life living and teaching in the US (his name escapes me right now) to become the next leader. They figured they needed an outsider, somebody remotely connected with Canada to give them credibility.

    A few years before that the federal NDP hired a US consulting firm to run their election campaign. What’s up with that? They didn’t know their own country.

    Here’s hoping US voters in the upcoming Presidential election in 2016 show the same spirit of independence Alberta voters did in May and reject the slate of candidates they are being offered.

  5. redneckred

    July 4th, 2015

    The contrast between the Harperians and any genuine conservatism becomes even sharper when you look at the long and honourable tradition of Red Toryism in Canada. George Grant, for example, is largely forgotten today, but go read Lament for a Nation, then weep for what Harper has done to this country.

    In some ways what’s scariest about these bozos is that they aren’t, in point of fact, stupid. On the contrary, I would argue that they (or at least Harper himself) is smarter than their American counterparts. While Canada has never lacked for reactionary politics, it hasn’t had the same kind of pseudo-populist right wing insurgency that inspires the US right (Well, not until Preston Manning gave us the Reform Party, anyway). While Harper’s never been slow to play games with the usual right wing wedge issues, he’s also astutely and quietly worked to undermine the viability of the Canadian state. To see just two examples of this, look at his evisceration of Statistics Canada and his suppression of academic freedom for government scientists.

    While media attention was fixed on the bizarre political debate about long form census, the “Tory” Government was slashing the budget of StatsCan. The agency had to terminate most of its publications and reduce the amount of information it collects. Most of the public doesn’t even notice, but the ability of policy analysts and government critics to put forward fact-based arguments is seriously hamstrung. In essence, most public policy arguments become exercises in rhetoric and spin. We all know which side that favours.

    Likewise, the totalitarian suppression of taxpayer-funded research on topics like climate change is quite frightening. On issues ranging from drug safety to cancer epidemiology, the Harper government is censoring scientific research and gagging scientists.

    So Stephen Harper is a new kind of phenomenon, a Postmodern Tory: he has no regard for facts, nor for history – everything revolves around spin, money and police/military power.

    Lament for a Nation, indeed.

  6. Pete Needham

    July 5th, 2015

    Peter McKay…no mention or responsibility?

    I can imagine Elmer’s child in future, if he has to make up a resume: “As the last leader of th Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, I sold them out to a party of psuedo Americans for a cabinet post.”


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