Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Calgary School - The Voices In Harper's Head

As the Canadian election campaign enters its final phases with the advanced polls opening on Friday, it is time to look at the machinery that Stephen Harper would take to Ottawa should the Conservative Party of Canada gather enough seats to form a government.

Harper has been accused of running an American Republican style campaign. He has made no effort to conceal a passion for the policies of the US Republican party and has openly held well established Canadian institutions in disdain. He comes by his love for the American ultra-right-wing honestly; he's one of them.

Harper studied under Straussist neo-cons at the University of Calgary, then worked with them to develop the policies and the framework for the Reform Party. When Harper made a bid for the leadership of the Alliance Party some of the U of C neo-cons jumped in as advisors. When the 2004 federal election came about, they were right there, led by the American born, American educated and Republican party approved, Tom Flanagan.

In 1996 a paper out of the Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC named the political science department at U of C: The Calgary School: The New Motor of Canadian Political Thought, and Tom Flanagan had become their informal leader.

Flanagan has extreme political views, to say the least. He has worked tirelessly against the claims of aboriginal Canadians and has made clear his view that North American aboriginals should be assimilated and their culture entirely eliminated. It also goes that his beliefs extend beyond First Nations into other culturally diverse groups. Far from accepting the Canadian cultural mosaic in favour of the American "melting-pot", Flanagan preaches a cultural smelter. As tons of copper concentrate are placed under pressure to produce a few ounces of gold, Flanagan promotes the idea that diverse cultures would be pressured to adhere to a narrow political dogma, dispense with their ethnicity, conform to a single religious standard and accept the leadership of the purest of the smelted ore. In other words, a society dominated by an elite group which is white, heterosexual, christian, english-speaking and male. Those who do not accept this view need not leave the slag heap and will have their rights, freedoms and eventually their franchise eliminated over time. Flanagan, an adherent of the Bush style of governing, was Harper's campaign director in 2004 and he is still one of Harper's closest political advisors. Rick Anderson, who worked with both Harper and Flanagan in the Reform Party described them as, "... intellectual soulmates, philosophical soulmates."

Barry Cooper, by his own admission, is Flanagan's peer both intellectually and politically. Cooper defends Flanagan against all critics and was responsible for nominating Flanagan for entry into the Royal Society of Canada. He is a professor at the U of C and a senior fellow of the right-wing Fraser Institute. Cooper, while often flying below the political radar has come out strongly in favour of abolishing welfare. He has also contributed to Fraser Institute public policy documents where he recommends absolute submission to US "Fortress North America" security and anti-terrorist methods. Cooper is also a member of the Bohemian Club, a group of US Republican heavy-weights who meet every year outside San Francisco to discuss policy. Cooper speaks the language the mostly US audience wants to hear - Canada's new conservatives are in love with the US, particularly a neo-con US. Cooper likes to portray himself as coming from Alberta pioneer roots. That, however, is a lie. Cooper is the son of a well-to-do Vancouver family who attended school on Vancouver Island and attended university in the US.

David Bercuson, along with Cooper, suggested that Quebec, if it was planning on leaving Confederation, had better be gone quickly. Bercuson is a prolific writer who promotes the Alberta cause at the expense of all other regions of the country, but takes particular aim at Quebec.

Ted Morton, another American-born and raised Albertan, is even more vitriolic. He, along with Harper and others penned the Alberta Agenda, also known as the Firewall Letter in which they called on the Premier of Alberta to exercise full constitutional authority and de-facto remove Alberta from Confederation. Morton is now involved as an MLA in Alberta provincial politics and is a member of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party. While he would be preoccupied with provincial politics, he would have a direct line to Harper.

Rainer Knopff is also a professor at the U of C Political Science Dept. His particular target has been the Canadian Supreme Court. (Caution: Link is from a virulent anti-feminist group). He and Morton have a long history of attacking what they refer to as "special interest groups". In fact, what they are attacking is minority groups and those seeking equality under the law. In their book The Charter Revolution and The Court Party; Broadview Press, 2000, they attack feminists, civil libertarians, gay rights activists, aboriginals and others. They then unapologetically defend their thesis on the altar of neo-conservative reforms. They leave little doubt that should their party win power that they would set about deconstructing the Canadian Charter.

There are others: Ted and Link Byfield who owned and published the anti-gay, anti-feminist and now defunct, Alberta Report are active in promoting the neo-con agenda of The Calgary School, and William Gairdner has echoed the policy statements of the Calgary School in book after book. All of them are vitriolic bigots and would crush any minority group seeking equality. And make no mistake about it: these people are not Canadian progressive conservatives; they are neo-con US Republicans and they believe in the concept of the "tyranical majority".

The hidden agenda is no myth. All of the neo-cons mentioned, but particularly the members of The Calgary School, are adherents of the teachings of Leo Strauss. One of the most notorious of Strauss' students was Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the US invasion of Iraq. Strauss' philosophy was less a philosophical pursuit and more of a manifesto. He believed that in order to protect people from themselves government should be made up of an elite group of philosophers who hide the truth and present a palatable falsehood in order to pursue their agenda - the so-called "noble lie". He argued that those governing must conceal their views for two reasons – to spare the peoples' feelings and to protect the elite from possible reprisals.

There is no reason to believe that the members of The Calgary School have suddenly changed their devotion to the Strauss philosophy. In fact, there is every reason to believe that during an election campaign it is strengthened.

Should Harper actually win the election on the 23rd, you can be assured that writers of policy, the advisors in the Prime Minister's Office and the framers of legislation will be a group of racist, homophobic, anti-feminist bigots; those we now know as The Calgary School.

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