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Sunday, February 04, 2007 

Harperstein - The Unholy Alliance Of Stephen Harper and the Fraser Institute

Here is a brilliant article which appeared in the Georgia Straight Magazine concerning the connections between Stephen Harper and the extreme right wing think tank, Fraser Institute:

By Donald Gutstein
Publish Date: July 6, 2006

In October 2004, the Fraser Institute held its 30th-anniversary gala celebration. Thirty years during which business and conservative foundations pumped more than $100 million into Fraser activities; thirty years during which Stephen Harper rose from high school to University of Calgary student to Reform party policy chief to head of the National Citizens Coalition and to leader of the official Opposition.

The scene was the glitzy Imperial Ballroom of Calgary's Hyatt Regency, where 1,200 adoring libertarians, conservatives, and reactionaries paid $300 each to hear four prominent conservative politicians Ralph Klein, Mike Harris, Preston Manning, and Harper pay tribute to the Fraser's success in pushing political thought in Canada to the right, helping make their careers possible.

Harper, the ideologue of today, would have been unthinkable as leader as recently as 1983, when Brian Mulroney won the Progressive Conservative leadership. Mulroney's two most right-wing opponents, John Gamble and Peter Pocklington (a long-time Fraser Institute benefactor and trustee), espoused policies not very different than Harper's. But together they received only a handful of delegate votes. In 1983, Harper wouldn't have stood a chance. In 2003, he won handily.

Credit the Fraser Institute? Harper probably thinks so. In his videotaped address to the 30th-anniversary crowd, Harper showed off his $45 Fraser Institute silk Adam Smith tie and confirmed he was a big fan of the institute. [...]

In 2003, Harper delivered an important address to the Civitas Society. This secretive organization is a network of Canadian neoconservative and libertarian academics, politicians, journalists, and think-tank propagandists. Harper said his goal is a future ruled by socially conservative values and small government. Movement toward this goal must be “incremental”, he told Civitas members. Regime change one step at a time.

That's likely why he decided not to dismantle Medicare, and, instead, appears to be a defender of the public health-care system, at least until he has his majority. He has to do it this way. Despite a decade of anti-Medicare propaganda from the Fraser and other corporate lobbies, Medicare is still one of our most valued public programs.

In a major Fraser Institute publication in 2005, Fraser fellows Preston Manning and Mike Harris proposed eliminating the federal role in health-care management and financing. Harper has opposed Medicare for two decades. But he responded to the Harris-Manning recommendations by saying, “I could not imagine a proposal that is more a non-starter than that one.” The Conservative party “supports the evolution of the health-care system within the framework of the Canada Health Act”.

At least until after the next election, he might have added.

Georgia Straight

Photo courtesy Georgia Straight


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