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#HarperHistory
April 27, 2012 10:41 PM   Subscribe

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was asked in the House of Commons whether he intended to keep Canadian troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Harper tried to deflect criticism from New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair by saying that "Unlike the NDP, we are not going to ideologically have a position regardless of circumstances. The leader of the NDP, in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler." Members of the NDP were quick to reply that the NDP did not oppose Hitler in 1939 because the NDP was formed in 1961.

Harper's reply: "Okay, it was the CCF, same difference. Parties do change their names from time to time." (Hansard, April 26, 2012)

Background: J.S. Woodsworth, founder of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, was indeed the only Member of Parliament to vote against going to war in 1939. He broke with his party to vote against the war because he was a committed pacifist. “He was a religious man and he could not, for whatever reason, allow anyone else to kill another human being. It just wasn’t in his fibre.” Woodsworth died in 1942. It was not until 1961 that the CCF and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) merged to form the New Democratic Party.

Friday was day two of the Conservative Party's anti-Woodsworth campaign, with both Conservative MP Scott Armstrong and Foreign Minister John Baird on the attack. NDP MP Dan Harris replied by reading tweets from the #HarperHistory hashtag on the floor of the House of Commons. (Hansard, April 27)

“Damn you NDP for not standing up to Genghis Khan.”

“It was really the NDP that helped organize the stampede that killed Mufasa in The Lion King.”

“The NDP refused to come to the aid of men when Mordor invaded Gondor. Shame.”
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow (47 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was wondering what all the stuff I'd been seeing from my Canadian friends was about. Thanks MeFi, now I know!
posted by JauntyFedora at 10:48 PM on April 27, 2012


They are now referring to it as the "NDP CCF":

The NDP do not support sending troops abroad for anything. Let us look at what the former leader of the NDP CCF said: "I would ask whether we are to risk the lives of our Canadian sons to prevent the actions of Hitler."

It was the former leader of the NDP CCF, J.S. Woodsworth, who said that.


-- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
posted by EmGeeJay at 10:51 PM on April 27, 2012


Wah wah wah waaaaah
posted by shakespeherian at 10:53 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's satisfying to see "professional" politicians fall on their own sword with a Godwin.
posted by stbalbach at 10:54 PM on April 27, 2012


Unlike the NDP, we are not going to ideologically have a position regardless of circumstances.

Previously on MeFi in Harper ideologically having a position regardless of circumstances:
Cancelling the long-form census, against all informed advice, citing "privacy" concerns without contacting the privacy commission to find out that there were a grand total of 3 complaints in the previous decade.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:56 PM on April 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


The, "person X didn't support the war against Hitler" argument is basically the equivalent of flipping a coin, then mocking anyone who picked the losing side.

Canada, like everyone else, refused to take Jewish refugees and the extermination camps didn't exist until the year Woodsworth died. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but then it wasn't at all clear what should be done about Hitler. It only became a righteous cause after it was all over and we figured out what was going on there. It didn't hurt case for righteousness that we won, either.

Imagine if George Bush had been right about Iraq having WMDs and orchestrating the WTC bombings. The anti-war camp would look pretty foolish now.
posted by klanawa at 11:00 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, you made a good argument klanawa, but I lost you at the part about George Bush. Before the war, it wasn't as if our intelligence community was like, "We just don't know if he has them." They knew there probably wasn't any WMD/al-Qaeda connection, but they spun a great story about it.
posted by victory_laser at 11:07 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Imagine if George Bush had been right about Iraq having WMDs and orchestrating the WTC bombings.

Bush never said Iraq attacked the World Trade Center.
posted by John Cohen at 11:08 PM on April 27, 2012


...sorta.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:11 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagine if George Bush had been right about Iraq having WMDs and orchestrating the WTC bombings.

Bush was wrong about WMD, but not about whether Iraq orchestrating the WTC bombings - unlike WMD, he didn't believe it was true, and it wasn't. It just suited him to perpetuate the idea to those that didn't know better.
/derail

posted by -harlequin- at 11:12 PM on April 27, 2012


Great. A thread about Canada that's suddenly become about Bush. Isn't Harper enough of a jerk and this topc meaty enough to stand on its own?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:30 PM on April 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Well I just checked the NDP's platform on their website and there's nothing about opposing Hitler anywhere.

So there's that.
posted by mazola at 11:31 PM on April 27, 2012 [18 favorites]


[Yeah, let's not derail into a Bush/Iraq discussion. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 11:36 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Harper discovers truthiness.
posted by arcticseal at 11:36 PM on April 27, 2012


Seemed he had discovered that years ago? New bullshit on a new day, but the same offensive MO.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:44 PM on April 27, 2012


"Same difference"?! Holy CCRAP, if any party deserves to be mocked for its past incarnations it's the Tories.
posted by emeiji at 11:45 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


"NDP CCF" -- Holy CCRAP, if any party deserves to be mocked for its past incarnations it's the Tories.

Yeah, I don't think Baird really wants to be called a member of the Conservative Canadian Alliance Reform Social-Credit Ralliement-Créditiste Progressive-Conservative Progressive Conservative party.


Video of MP Dan Harris reading tweets in the House of Commons.

More from #HarperHistory

The NDP bought Nero his first fiddle. That's what happens when you support arts & culture.

The NDP were completely useless in the War of 1812.

The NDP created, or will create, SKYNET.

The NDP refused to authorize the evacuation of Krypton.

The NDP is the reason General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are hard to unify.

John Baird now wishes to be referred to as CPC/Reform Party

The NDP claims to be my relative, is stranded abroad and wants me to send $5000 to an undisclosed account.

The NDP continues to stand by and do nothing while we all live in the matrix.

The NDP got Fox to cancel Firefly.

posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:03 AM on April 28, 2012 [15 favorites]


I was going to joke about how this means that Harper can now be called to task for all the actions of the Conservatives, Liberal-Conservatives, Nationalist Conservatives, Unionists, National Government, Social Credit, Western Canada Concept Party and Reform (I note that he hasn't yet repudiated the Conscription Crisis), but instead, I'd rather question why anyone thought that it would fly.

Even the National Post wasn't repeating the quip uncritically, and published some of the same tweets as the Toronto Star. I tried checking Sun Media, but didn't see any coverage before the general Sun flavour drove me away. But it strikes me as a prepared quip, meant as a snappy soundbite to deflect an expected question, and as such, leaves me a little surprised that, not only would it have seemed a good idea when penned, but that Baird would double down on it Friday morning and re-use it, rather than letting it blow over. After all, the last Tory to reference Hitler in the Commons got such a great response.
posted by frimble at 12:14 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heck, the NDP don't even hate Nelson Mandela.
Note to non-Canadians: Rob Anders is still a government MP, a decade later.

Meanwhile, the first Conservative leader supported the Americans who invaded Canada.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:25 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


So this is the brilliant strategist at work; an idiot stick leading a whole idiot forest of bleating vulgarians in a chorus of 'Nyah Nyah! You like Hitler!!!!"

Harper had the extreme good fortune of an imploding Liberal party, intensely partisan coverage in the consolidating corporate press, and oodles of money from the oil patch. But somehow, his success is always attributed to the fact that he's some sort of uber master tactician.

So, when he finally gets his long sought majority he lurches from one disaster to another, seemingly unable to provide any real leadership, and demonstrating just how staggeringly unsuitable he is for the PM's office. I really wish that the idea that's he's this brilliant political operator would be put to rest. I know he thinks he's the smartest person in the room but it doesn't mean that everyone else has to also.

I must go and ice my forehead now.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:32 AM on April 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


iotic's rule: if a thread is already about Hitler, it can be Godwinned by bringing up Bush.
posted by iotic at 12:32 AM on April 28, 2012 [34 favorites]


Harper sounds like an asshole but I don't get why this is such a "gotcha" moment. After all, what he said was more or less true, right? He could have phrased it better, but it's nowhere near the level of Ann Coulter insisting that Canada sent troops to Vietnam.
posted by pete_22 at 2:01 AM on April 28, 2012


"The leader of the NDP, in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler."

The way the quote is written in the FPP doesn't mean what I think people want it to mean? It's got a comma where I suspect it isn't warranted, because as it stands, it suggests that the (current) leader of the NDP (I'm guessing the NDP has a leader, yes?) did, back in 1939, oppose going to war with Hitler. If you want to reference an NDP that existed in 1939 (which is what Harper was doing) it needs to lose the first comma:

"The leader of the NDP in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler."
posted by Dysk at 2:10 AM on April 28, 2012


After all, what he said was more or less true, right?

Except, of course, the other six members of the CCF at the time (which included Tommy Douglas, who was far more important to the formation of the NDP than Woodsworth was) all voted to go to war. So Harper's statement isn't even terribly accurate.
posted by mightygodking at 2:11 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's got a comma where I suspect it isn't warranted...

That's how the quote appears in the official transcript. It was an off-the-cuff remark, not something edited for grammar.

After all, what he said was more or less true, right?

1) No. As mightygodking said, a majority of CCF MPs voted in favour of going to war. Pacifism was never CCF party policy.
2) No. Woodsworth was never even a member of the NDP. The NDP is not a renamed CCF. In particular, organised labour has the influence it has over the NDP as a result of the role played by the CLC in 1961.
3) No. Unlike Woodsworth, the NDP does not have an ideological commitment to pacifism regardless of circumstances. The NDP is not a pacifist party, just a party that wants to keep Canada out of pointless wars. Their platform as of 2012 calls for the Canadian forces to be "properly staffed, equipped and trained...to effectively address the full range of possible military operations."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:58 AM on April 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


Besides that, wasn't Tommy Douglas known for finishing nearly every speech in the House with the phrase Certerum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:02 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Woohoo, Dan Harris is my MP. Scarborough Southwest represent!
posted by scruss at 4:22 AM on April 28, 2012


Just to remind anyone who doesn't already know: Britain didn't go to war with Hitler to save the Jews. It was basically forced to declare war because it had signed an guarantee to defend Poland, having watched Hitler annex Austria and agreeing at Munich to let Hitler have the Sudetenland -- against the wishes of the Czechs, whom Hitler subsequently forced to ced yet more territory.

Germany's invastion of Poland backed the British into a corner but the decision to go to war was taking with the deepest reluctance and in fact no meaningful support was given to Poland.

So Canada was being asked to go to war with Germany because it had invaded a country which Britain had signed a pact to protect. They had already been through this -- this was more or less what had happened in 1914 with the 'rape of Little Belgium', and Canadian troops had suffered terribly at Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Passchendale and so on in a war that many had sworn would never be repeated.

It was certainly clear by 1939 that the Jews were being terribly treated but it wasn't something that, frankly, the British government gave a shit about. Concentration camps were nothing new -- the British had invented them during the Boer War -- and they did not have the same connotation they do now. The Jewish problem, for the British, was a political and social one of what to do about the refugees. It wasn't until Wansee in 1942 that the Final Solution was mooted and by the time it became clear to the Allies what was happening, they were already committed to an existential struggle with Germany.

In short, even if you buy the CCF/NDP identity it's the cheapest of cheap shots from a man who should know better. This is my surprised face.
posted by unSane at 4:46 AM on April 28, 2012 [16 favorites]


Anyway, two can play at this game: Harper never repudiated Xerxes for his invasion of Greece; Vic Toews refused to condemn the excesses of Lord Protector Cromwell; John Baird was remarkably silent on "The Lombard Question"; and Bev Oda thought Napoleon was "keen".
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:51 AM on April 28, 2012


...it's nowhere near the level of Ann Coulter insisting that Canada sent troops to Vietnam.

It may only be of interest to me, but while Canada did not send troops to Vietnam, there was at least one Canadian there, serving in the US Army. Sgt. Sparky seemed to develop misgivings about his decision, but he did finish his tour.

I have to confess that I did not support the war against the Nazis. Had I been more foresighted, and been born in time, I'm sure I would have, though.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:00 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


So is this:
  • some sneaky backdoor for opening up a discussion on conscience rights?; or
  • a calculatedly stupid distraction, meaning to act as a smokescreen for F-35s, robocalls, Bev Oda, etc.?
posted by mazola at 7:11 AM on April 28, 2012


Phlegmco(tm): So, when he finally gets his long sought majority he lurches from one disaster to another, seemingly unable to provide any real leadership, and demonstrating just how staggeringly unsuitable he is for the PM's office. I really wish that the idea that's he's this brilliant political operator would be put to rest. I know he thinks he's the smartest person in the room but it doesn't mean that everyone else has to also.

This strikes me as pretty darn accurate. How long before the MSM notices?

It seems like one of the conservatives' favourite tactics is demonizing anyone who disagrees with them as "socialist!" or "communist!". I guess it's effective because people don't know any better, and it plays well in some parts of the blogosphere. But for the fucking Prime Minister to be using this tactic in parliament, in front of the whole country, is bizarre. Maybe Mulcaire really has them running scared and this is the best they can do?
posted by sneebler at 7:11 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like one of the conservatives' favourite tactics is demonizing anyone who disagrees with them as "socialist!" or "communist!"

Or, in this case, "Nazi!"

Even if the not-yet-NDP had been pro-Hitler, I'm entirely unclear why I should care about what they did 70 years ago. (The NDP does tend to focus on Tommy Douglas a little. He was great, but he's dead now. We need something new.)
posted by jeather at 7:18 AM on April 28, 2012


Ah, Stephen Harper. As much as he wants to be the Canadian Dick Cheney, he can't. Because there just can't be a Canadian Dick Cheney. Not possible. So he tries and tries and he always just makes himself look like a fool.

Seriously, shouldn't you guys set him adrift on an ice floe? I saw something about that on South Park.
posted by Naberius at 7:19 AM on April 28, 2012


"Canada, like everyone else, refused to take Jewish refugees." And, just as you would expect from Harper's boys, in the 2011 election campaign this 72+ year old fact was spun as proof that the Liberal Party of Canada is still a haven for anti-Semites and hates of Israel.
posted by senor biggles at 7:33 AM on April 28, 2012


In the National Post:

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was asking Harper if he intended to extend the Afghanistan mission past 2014 after a Postmedia News report Wednesday said U.S officials had asked Canadian special forces to stay past the withdrawal date.The prime minister responded the NDP has a pacifistic ideology “regardless of circumstances” and his government would make the right decision for Afghanistan’s security.

“In 1939, the NDP leader didn’t even want to support the fight against Hitler,” Harper said, before being drowned out by cat calls.

NDP MPs gently reminded Harper from across the aisle that the NDP didn’t come into existence until 1961, birthed by a union between the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.

“CCF, NDP, same difference,” Harper responded curtly.

“I guess we can start talking about Reform Party policies,” Mulcair replied, to the delight of the opposition benches.


--------------

As they say on Corner Gas: SCORCH POW!
That definitely got me a bit more excited/interested in Mulcair. Hope he keeps it up.
posted by flex at 7:36 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


The funny thing is that some of the founding members of Reform, the predecessor to the current Tories, we're actual neo-nazis who were rather tardily expelled. One former party head was buddies with holocaust denier and anti-Semite Jim Keegstra. Before that, the Manning family were involved in the eugenics movement.

One of them tried to kill me in 1993. So I associate the Tories with the reason I get jaw pain, because the plastic surgery used to fix my face wasn't perfect.

See, it's this fucking thing where the truth is so awful, any other party would be accused of being mean just for mentioning it. But one pacifist in the 40s is mild enough that it can be spun by those assholes without any real consequences.
posted by mobunited at 7:51 AM on April 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is what I'm talking about.

http://pushedleft.blogspot.ca/2009/10/stephen-harper-and-heritage-front.html
posted by mobunited at 7:53 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always suspect these things are strategic political plays to the conservative base. Not in any sort of obvious dog whistle kind of way that motivates the base to associate other leaders with reviled historical figures or heinous actions or even worse peace (though if that happens it's a bonus). I think it is showing that they can torment liberals. It not dog whistling. It is dog kicking.

Not only is the indignant yelp a reward but it also puts the 'dogs' into a sort of whining fact based rebuttal mode that makes them seem uptight and persnickety.

It reminds me of a kid I knew who used to run around calling other kids "Brace Face" when he had braces on his lower teeth that didn't really show. He just said "I know that. You know that. They don't."

It's not about facts. It's about effects.
posted by srboisvert at 9:00 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used the word "imagine" because I was hoping y'all would use your imaginations.
posted by klanawa at 9:15 AM on April 28, 2012


foe paw eh?
posted by clavdivs at 9:25 AM on April 28, 2012


Fortunately, the Conservatives have a sterling unbroken record of opposing Nazis... uh, maybe not. [Sample quote: "In a 2001 book Le Livre noir du Canada anglais, investigative journalist Normand Lester uncovered letters between Richard Bedford Bennett's Conservative Party and well renowned fascist and avowed Hitler supporter Adrien Arcand. The letters detail that the Conservative Party donated 25,000 dollars (268,577 dollars in 2001) to fascist newspapers owned and operated by Arcand in return for his publications and his fascist movement, l'Ordre patriotique des Goglus, helping the Conservatives win 12 seats in the 1930 election."]

But Harper can dismiss that by saying that Bennett's Conservative Party bears little resemblance to his own, having merged (at least in name) with the Progressive Party in the '40s, with the so-formed Progressive (ick!) Conservatives being eaten by the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party, itself mainly initially composed of disgruntled western PCs and politically-homeless Social Creditistes). Totally different.
posted by hangashore at 9:36 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Forgot to mention that the Bennett/Arcand link comes courtesy of the wonderfully informative/cynical/entertaining Something Awful Canadian Politics Megathread.
posted by hangashore at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2012


"The leader of the NDP in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler."

With two commas, it was grammatically correct but ambiguous. With just the single comma, it's ungrammatical. You need to remove both commas.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:39 PM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Douchy prime minister acts douchy.

The Canadian voter is pretty jaded these days, so this particular nugget is fairly inconsequential, in the long run.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:43 PM on April 28, 2012


With just the single comma, it's ungrammatical.

Or archaic, at least.
posted by stebulus at 9:40 AM on April 29, 2012




Ah, Stephen Harper. As much as he wants to be the Canadian Dick Cheney, he can't.


Well he's two third of the way there.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:44 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


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