Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stephen Harper and the Joy of Quoting

Even though the Prime Minster covets being perceived as a man of his word, a man who does not dither, a man who means what he says and acts on what he says, Conservatives sure get upset when Stephen Harper’s words are tossed in their face. One Harper apologist even called such behavior “extreme”. Needless to say, this is an odd accusation to make. Political parties spend a great deal of money trying to get their message out. So, you would think that Conservatives would be grateful whenever someone goes to trouble of informing people of what Stephen Harper has said on the record and for the record, but no. Take a letter Stephen Harper wrote to the National Post entitled

“Separation, Alberta-style: It is time to seek a new relationship with Canada”

If Harper did not want Canadians to know what he thought of them, he would not have said the following and then sent it to the National Post for publication.

“Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task. Albertans would be fatally ill-advised to view this situation as amusing or benign. Any country with Canada's insecure smugness and resentment can be dangerous.”

That said, this does help explain why so many Conservatives believe, despite what the McGill media studies clearly show and despite the fact that virtually ever newspaper in the country backed the Conservatives during the last election that the media has a strong Liberal bias. After all, many media outlets have the audacity to report what Stephen Harper said on the record without first getting his permission. By logical extension, this makes any media outlet that does so an “extremist”. The willingness of the media to note in passing that Harper once called into question the

"so-called 'greenhouse gas' phenomenon"

is just further proof that the Toronto Sun and National Post, for example, are part of the loony left.

All kidding aside, the Conservatives do have one legitimate gripe with the media. Not a single media outlet noted that the Exxon funded

“Co2; we call life ads”

went ahead without crediting Harper with the idea. The case for plagiarism is as clear as day: In criticizing Kyoto, Harper said

“It focuses on carbon dioxide, which is essential to life"


and the media, the Red Star anyway, reported this, but failed to note that Exxon plagiarized Harper. Hell, it was not like Harper’s comment was one time thing; it was a well developed talking point: Other variations abound; to wit,

“Carbon dioxide which is a naturally occurring gas vital to the life cycles of this planet."

However useless it is to debate the “extremism” of quoting Harper, it is a debate I am happy to engage in. After all, if one claims that it is “extreme” to quote the following, say, then one needs to refer to what is being quoted.

"You've got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society."

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