media and think-tank researcher

Donald Gutstein

18 Oct '14

Waterloo Region Record: Harperism: How Stephen Harper and his think-tank colleagues have transformed Canada

Jim Romahn, Waterloo Region Record, October 18, 2014, E4

Step by step, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is, according to author Donald Gutstein, turning Canada into a far-right economic and ultra-conservative social society.

Gutstein says Harper is doing this by following the lead of think-tanks set up to “research” and promote these policies, think-tanks that are funded by wealthy and powerful people. They also make excellent use of Canada’s leading news media organizations and columnists to give widespread public exposure to their proposals.

Harper’s economic policies are rooted in the philosophies of Friedrich Hayek and the members of the Mont Pelerin Society that Hayek co-founded, and the prime minister’s social policies are rooted in the writings of Leo Strauss, whose followers are called Straussists or neo-conservatives.

Gutstein makes a convincing case that Harper is devoted to these two philosophies – that he pursues principles rather than pragmatic and well-researched solutions, and that he is determined to so radically change Canada, it will be difficult to turn back.

For example, his government cuts taxes at every opportunity, starving the treasury so it can eliminate social programs, including foreign aid, services for refugees, labour unions and research and statistical data (i.e., from Statistics Canada) that might challenge the policies Harper wants to pursue, such as exploiting Canada’s oil and natural gas resources and increasing prison terms.

Gutstein says Harper is rewriting Canadian history by silencing references to peacekeeping and glorifying war, including the War of 1812 and the First World War. He cites the example of the rewritten booklet for immigrants and refugees, “Discover Canada,” and says it deals with Canadian history and culture in radically different ways than the booklet, “A Look at Canada,” which it replaces.

Whether you are or aren’t a Harper supporter, this is a book well worth reading before you cast your ballot in the 2015 federal election.

Jim Romahn is a Kitchener writer.

Feedburner
Buy Now

Harperism: How Stephen Harper and his think tank colleagues have transformed Canada

harperism cover

Margaret Thatcher transformed British political life forever. So did Ronald Reagan in the United States. Now Canada has experienced a similar, dramatic shift to a new kind of politics, which author Donald Gutstein terms Harperism. Among its key tenets:

  • A weakened labour movement – and preferably the disappearance of unions – will contribute to Canada’s economic prosperity
  • Cutting back government scientific research and data collection will improve public policy-making

The success of Harperism is no accident. Donald Gutstein documents the links between the politicians, think tanks, journalists, academics, and researchers who nurture and promote each other’s neo-liberal ideas.