Leader of the West
The progress of Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister

(Wu Wei/Xinhua Press/Corbis)


He is a flaming philo-Semite, analyzing and condemning anti-Semitism whenever he can. His government was the first in the world to announce it would boycott “Durban II” — the second in a series of U.N. conferences rotten with anti-Semitism. Canada naturally boycotted Durban III as well. Jewish groups have honored him with their highest awards. Harper supports Israel because it is a democratic and liberal nation, surrounded and threatened by many nations that are not. He also recognizes the right of any nation to defend itself. But there is a bit more to his support of Israel than that. He has a visceral feeling about the Jews, according to those who know him. He is disgusted by the abuse of them, in the past and in the present. Other leaders have had this feeling, among them George W. Bush.

Harper has taken a very tough line on Iran (though it is the American line that counts, of course). In September, the Canadians closed their embassy in Tehran, in part because they feared the Iranian government might sack it. In November, Canada was one of a handful of nations at the U.N. — nine — to vote against an enhanced status for the PLO. Harper’s government believes that Palestinians should win their state at the negotiating table, with Israel. This is, in fact, what the Oslo Accords call for. In recent days, Harper has opened a new Office of Religious Freedom, an office within the foreign ministry. Religious freedom is an issue of high importance to him.

I have noted that Harper is careful, incrementalist, and not a boat-rocker, to the extent he can help it. But in the realm of foreign policy, he has been unquestionably bold. In his 2011 party-convention speech, he said that Conservatives and Canada have a purpose: “and that purpose is no longer just to go along and get along with everyone else’s agenda. It is no longer to please every dictator with a vote at the United Nations. And I confess that I don’t know why past attempts to do so were ever thought to be in Canada’s national interest.” In a turbulent, unpredictable world, “strength is not an option; it is a necessity. Moral ambiguity, moral equivalence, are not options; they are dangerous illusions.”

There is much more to say about Harper, pro and even con, but you can see why American conservatives are high on him, when they know about him. As we begin the second term of Obama, Harper gives us something to cheer about. He is a leader who speaks our language, thinks our thoughts. Back in the 2005–06 campaign, his opponents used that admiring op-ed in the Washington Times against him. The next election is scheduled to take place in October 2015 — and they may want to use this piece in National Review against him. If he likes, Harper can write a letter to the editor, complaining.

March 11, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 4

  • The progress of Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister.
  • We never needed a postal monopoly.
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Allis Radosh reviews Coolidge, by Amity Shlaes.
  • Matthew J. Franck reviews Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation, by Peter Berkowitz.
  • W. Bradford Wilcox reviews What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster, by Jonathan V. Last.
  • Mackubin Thomas Owens reviews The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, by Thomas E. Ricks.
  • Katherine Connell reviews Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church, by George Weigel.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Side Effects.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .