Obama, Harper and Ignatieff

Extraordinary Rendition:
The extrajudicial transfer of terror suspects from one state to another, usually to states with lower standards on human rights in their treatment of prisoners.

Barack Obama on extraordinary rendition:

“Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.” — LA Times

Michael Ignatieff on extraordinary rendition:

Arar is a case of rendition: the Torture Convention –Canada is a signator — forbids the rendition of anyone to confinement in a country where there is a reasonable chance that the person will be tortured. Arar claims he was tortured in Syria. But that’s not the only violation: the Americans can turn back a Canadian citizen to Canada, but surely have no right to deport him to a third country.

Stephen Harper on extraordinary rendition:

What I would like to see is obviously the United States government come clean with its version of events [Arar rendition], to acknowledge … the deficiencies and inappropriate conduct that occurred in this case, particularly vis-a-vis its relationship with the Canadian government [Canada wants to hear that] these kinds of incidents will not be repeated in the future.”

Same-sex marriage:
Stephen Harper on same-sex marriage:

“I have no difficulty with the recognition of civil unions for non-traditional relationships but I believe in law we should protect the traditional definition of marriage.” — Stephen Harper interviewed by the CBC

“We made a promise to have a free vote on this issue, we kept that promise, and obviously the vote was decisive and obviously we’ll accept the democratic result of the people’s representatives … I don’t see reopening this question in the future.” — Stephen Harper after MPs reject to re-open same-sex marriage debate

Michael Ignatieff on same-sex marriage:

For Liberals gay marriage is an equality issue. The [Liberal] government’s position gets the balance right. We will not compel religious communities to perform ceremonies that go against their beliefs, but we will not deny marriage rights to Canadians on grounds of sexual orientation.

Barack Obama on same-sex marriage:

“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix. … I am not somebody that promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions.

Enhanced interrogation:
Michael Ignatieff on enhanced interrogation:

“As Posner and others have tartly pointed outif torture and coercion are both as useless as critics pretend, why are they used so much? While some abuse and outright torture can be attributed to individual sadism, poor supervision and so on, it must be the case that other acts of torture occur because interrogators believe, in good faith, that torture is the only way to extract information in a timely fashion. It must also be the case that if experienced interrogators come to this conclusion, they do so on the basis of experience. The argument that torture and coercion do not work is contradicted by the dire frequency with which both practices occur. I submit that we would not be “waterboarding” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — immersing him in water until he experiences the torment of nearly drowning — if our intelligence operatives did not believe it was necessary to crack open the al Qaeda network that he commanded. . Indeed, Mark Bowden points to a Time report in March 2003 that Sheikh Mohammed had “given US interrogators the names and descriptions of about a dozen key al Qaeda operatives believed to be plotting terrorist attacks.” We must at least entertain the possibility that the operatives working on Sheikh Mohammed in our name are engaging not in gratuitous sadism but in the genuine belief that this form of torture—and it does qualify as such—makes all the difference.”

The Globe and Mail infers Stephen Harper’s government’s stance on enhanced interrogation by other governments aided by Canada:

“The Harper government knew prison conditions were appalling long before The Globe and Mail published a series of stories last April detailing the abuse and torture of prisoners turned over by Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan’s notorious secret police, documents released this week show.” — The Globe and Mail

Michael Ignatieff on Israel:

“I was a professor of human rights, and I am also a professor of the laws of war, and what happened in Qana was a war crime, and I should have said that.” — Michael Ignatieff on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict

“Canada has to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself … Hamas is to blame for organizing and instigating these rocket attacks and then for sheltering among civilian populations.” — Michael Ignatieff on the Israel-Hamas conflict

Barack Obama on Israel:

“My view is that the United States’ special relationship with Israel obligates us to be helpful to them in the search for credible partners with whom they can make peace, while also supporting Israel in defending itself against enemies sworn to its destruction”

Stephen Harper on Israel:
[The] source of Israel’s strength and success, in my view, is its commitment to the universal values of all civilized peoples: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. …

… Our government believes that those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada, because, as the last world war showed, hate-fuelled bigotry against some is ultimately a threat to us all, and must be resisted wherever it may lurk.

In this ongoing battle, Canada stands side-by-side with the State of Israel, our friend and ally in the democratic family of nations. We have stood with Israel even when it has not been popular to do so, and we will continue to stand with Israel, just as I have always said we would.

I know that we all hope and pray that someday freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law will be a reality for all the peoples of the Middle East.

Stephen Harper on abortion:

“I will tell you that, as prime minister, I will not bring forth legislation on the issue of abortion” — Speech at 2005 CPC Policy Convention

Michael Ignatieff on abortion:

Strong majorities of Canadians believe that while abortion should be rare, it should be a protected right for all women. … I am in politics to defend and develop this progressive achievement.”

Barack Obama on abortion:

“I trust women to make these decisions in conjunction with their doctors, and their families and their clergy… When you describe a specific procedure [partial-birth abortion] that accounts for less than one percent of abortions that take place then naturally people get concerned, and I think legitimately so.” — Barack Obama

Stephen Harper on Iraq:

On Iraq, while I support the removal of Saddam Hussein and applaud the efforts to establish democracy and freedom in Iraq, I would not commit Canadian troops to that country. I must admit great disappointment at the failure to substantiate pre-war intelligence information regarding Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Michael Ignatieff on Iraq:

The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president … But it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators supported the invasion.

Barack Obama on Iraq:

That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars. — Barack Obama, October 2nd, 2002

On capital punishment:
Stephen Harper’s government on capital punishment:

Citing the “wrong signal” it would send to Canadians to plead for mercy for convicted killers, the Conservatives said they would no longer attempt to convince the United States or other democratic countries to commute death sentences meted out to Canadians.

The government later said it would review such situations on a “case-by-case basis.” — Montreal Gazette

Michael Ignatieff on capital punishment:

Canadians do not support capital punishment… I am in politics to defend and develop this progressive achievement.

Barack Obama on capital punishment:

“While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes — mass murder, the rape and murder of a child — so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment” — Barack Obama from The Audacity of Hope



30 thoughts on “Obama, Harper and Ignatieff”

  1. impressive research Stephen

    It looks like they are all on the same page, with Iggy being the furthest right of the three (depending on the day)

  2. Awesome post Stephen. This would be handy in a chart form for all Blogging Tories to have handy.

    It speaks volumes, doesn't it?

    Well done!

  3. Furthest right… you mean other than on the Iraq War (Harper the further right), equal marriage, capital punishment, abortion (still not clear what Harper's personal view on abortion is – obviously he wants to hide this for political reasons so he doesn't lose votes and doesn't need to tell us if he isn't bringing legislation in, but still he is remarkably silent on his personal views), oh and pretty much every issue.

    So aside from every issue, yes they are all pretty much the same.

  4. ” … still not clear what Harper's personal view on abortion is …”

    Actually, it is very clear. I do not have a specific reference with a link, but I distinctly remember then-opposition leader Harper being asked about abortion, and he replied that although he was personally opposed to it, he considered it a matter of conscience, and that he would not legislate on it.

    I believe Harper's position to be far more honest than Paul Martin's, for instance, who was portrayed as a devout Catholic in my local newspaper, but then went on anti-Harper rants during the 2004 and 2006 campaigns, accusing him of being against “a woman's right to choose” but usually avoiding the very word “abortion” – always referring to “a woman's right to choose” – until he was asked point blank by a reporter why he never said the word “abortion.”

  5. Yes ,well done.

    If a Canadian politician has an issue with SSM then he/she is Homophobic but Obama is “progressive”.
    If a Canadian politician believes that abortion should be restricted he/she is anti women but Obama is “dreamy”.
    If a Canadian politician believes in capital punishment he/she is an uncivilized redneck but Obama is “inspirational”.

    Many people here do not even know anything about Obama. The reality check will be tough for them to take.

  6. Great post Stephen and this should be required reading for Canadians interested in Canada-U.S. relations. As a side note, I read a similar post at “The Prairie Wrangler” back in November right before the U.S. election. I think the two posts compliment each other nicely. The link is below.


  7. The Blogging Tories have gone insane on this one. Some are comparing Obama to Marx, and one posted a poster of Obama chumming with Hitler and Stalin, as well as Marx, while others are saying he is Harper’s lost twin. I guess Harper has dumped his love-on for Bush. Perhaps it was more an infatuation for power than a relationship built on respect. Rick Mercer nailed it — with Harper it is a new flavor everyday, whichever one he thinks will sell. Likely Harper wouldn’t even recognize the true Harper anymore.

  8. Mr. Harper inherited a gun control system that goes light on armed criminals and turns legal gun owners into pariahs. It's all about control, but pretty useless against armed criminals. If he could, he would right this situation. With a minority government, he simply can't.

    On the other hand, if Mr. Obama and his left-wing congress introduces Canadian style “gun control”–he would have a revolution on his hands.

  9. Great Research Stephen. It shows very clearly how wishy washy Ignatieff is. One day hot ,another cold.
    This is something that really should get out into the public. As far as Omar Carter is concerned, I think eventually we have to take him back. After all he is Canadian. Obama said everything was being looked at and it would take time. That's fine with me.

  10. David the last sentence is so right. When I saw this Obama Mania develop in Canada I felt like a deja vue.
    Being old ,I have seen more than most. I find it always dangerous when I man is so eloquent and persuasive.
    Obama is both. Only time will tell what he will accomplish. I must admit watching his visit to Ottawa on TV. I could almost become infected. It's odd though that in the US he has an approval rating of 62% and in Canada
    it's in the eighty's. Which shows that most people in Canad only see the charming outside of the man.

  11. V65magnafan
    Have you heard the latest. The new Justice Chief in Obamas Cabinet has made a remark, that
    the 2nd amendment re ownership of guns is not constitutional. There are some very odd cases regarding guns in court in the US right now. I listened to Lou Dobbs last night, and was astonished. I wonder if they really would have a revolution. It appears that nowbody is commenting on these very strange court cases.

  12. Because the world exists in a vacuum, and nothing is relative to time and place?

    In the USA, Obama is “progressive”, because his views are more liberal than the mainstream IN THE USA. This isn't rocket science.

    By the way, you inadvertently make an excellent case for why Reform-Conservatives will never be elected with majorities in Canada. It's because “progressive” to us is different from “progressive” in the USA, in that Canadians are far more liberal than the majority of our American friends and neighbours. And being far more liberal, generally, the only way we'll elect a Reform-Conservative minority government is to put a Liberal government in the penalty box for a while.

  13. Canadians in this time and space (Canada) are goo-goo-ga-ga for Obama (who has an 81% approval rating. This is Obama's approval rating now (time) in this space (Canada).

    Are you saying that one's positions and values are relative not absolute? ie. would you say “In Canada, I'm a progressive that believes in abortion on demand, same-sex marriage and am against torture… and in the US I feel that a woman must consult with her priest, that two men can't marry but can have a civil union and that outsourcing torture is a-ok, because… well that's 'change'”.

    What about your relativism when it comes to Ignatieff and Harper's similarities on so-called conservative/progressive ideas? Is it because you like the colour red better than the colour blue?

    What makes you a Liberal? Why do you like Ignatieff? Why do you like Obama? Why do you dislike Harper?

    Do you simply like the *idea* of Obama (an agent of “hope” and “change”) and the *idea* of viewing the world through those rose coloured lenses in those Gerard Kennedy frames?

  14. Now you're parsing! Before, Liberals discounted “progressive” obama-esque policies such as two-tiered healthcare as “american style”. I called it “reductio ad americanum”.

  15. Basically what you’ve demonstrated here (nothing more) is that politicians will say and do things that won’t offend the majority of their citizens, whatever their personal views may be. In the USA, capital punishment is a way of life, and is accepted and popular with a majority of citizens. For Obama to come out strongly against it in all cases – whatever his personal feelings are – would be foolish.

  16. stephen, You can preface Iggy's published stuff alongside Harper and Obama all you want;Iggy hasn't backed off his comments. The one thing you seem to forget is that Harper has proven he has no principles other than to stay in office. His economic performance is simply terrible and he has gone against everything he ever wrote while with the NCC which was supposed to be his political doctrine.

    The hypocrite is Harper and you're simply trying to put lipstick on that pig.

  17. Stephen, I am not speaking of my personal preferences.

    In a country where the norm is somewhat right of the norm here, that which would be considered centrist or centre-right here may, in fact, be progressive there. I don't fully understand why Canadians are ga-ga of Obama, other than perhaps that he is a transformational and historical figure, with great presence, and who seems to be very different from the last administration. This gives him the aura of being somwhat transcendental.

    Some of Obama's beliefs are in line with the liberals (Gitmo, Climate change, for example) while some are generally in line with some conservatives (capital punishment, for example). Though, I think we all know that some of his beliefs are somewhere in between (gay marriage or civil unions, for example…whereas liberals gnerally favour marriage, Obama, right of centre Liberals, and progressive conservatives generally favour civil unions, and fundamentalist reform conservatives abhor homosexuality altogether). Ultimately, I think it's foolish to try and fit an American leader into our understanding of the left-right political spectrum, because our political balance on that continuum is different from that of Americans. Saying he is more conservative or more liberal…or even more Conservative or more Liberal is ignorant of this important frame of reference.

    But he seems like a classy guy…the kind you'd want to shoot hoops with, or grab a beer with. He seems approachable, and that probably contributes to his popularity.

    And no, my personal ideals are not relative, rather many are deeply and universally held. But, if I was a political leader, as a matter of practical application vis a vis persuing a political agenda, it may well be that my ideals could not be fully realized because of the place in which I live and the people whom I would serve.

    In any case, I find it unfortunate that you assume to know what my ideals are simply because I am a Liberal. But unlike the Conservative party, there are many Liberals with widely differing views and perspectives…and with enough respect for one another and one another's views to keep it all together.

    Lastly, with respect to “change” and your saracasm around Obama's promise of bringing it, you should probably note that it generally occurs in one of four ways:

    1. Change by exception – someone sees the world in a certain, static way…and if something doesn't fit into that, it is viewed as the exception.

    2. Change by pendulum swing – someone decides wholesale to abandon their principles in favour of other principles, having been convinced that their old way of life or think was wrong. (see the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, or Stephen Harper's newfound love of socialism).

    3. Incremental change – changing slowly, over time as we grow and learn.

    4. Paradigm shift – Newfound fundamental understandings of the world change our perspective. This is when we realize (unlike pendulum swing) that we were a little bit partly right before, and with the newfound meaning, we are now a little bit partly MORE right than we were.

    Clearly, the 4th type of change is most advantageous and beneficial to everyone involved, as it comes moderately, respectfully, with a view to traditions but with understanding about the need for progress.

    The third type is also acceptable, and is probably the most likely kind of change to happen in a large group, such as an entire nation.

    Did you think change was going to come like the red revolution? Such change rarely lasts, and is ultimately a pointless pursuit.

    And before anyone goes apeshit, I will source the Aquarian Conspiracy (re: change) which was written, I believe, in the 1980s.

  18. “But unlike the Conservative party, there are many Liberals with widely differing views and perspectives”.

    In other words when the odd Liberal has issues with our current abortion laws you can respect their opinions, but if it is a Conservative well, they must hate women.

    Canadians as a whole have many differing views and perspectives.It is pompous to suggest that it is only Liberals that can “have enough respect for one another..”. Most Canadians , myself included are not affiliated with any political party. I for one do not need to belong to a political party to have respect for the opinions of others.In fact the opposite is often true. It seems to me that some people in politics are the most stubborn and closed minded in our society. This is true in all parties.

    Just how is Obama's view on climate change in “line” with the Liberals?

    I remind you that the startegy of the Libs. is clearly to try and convince Canadians that the sweeping changes Obama represents are only available in Canada through their party.The purpose of the arguments made in this post are to take swipes at that ridiculous assumption.

    Campaigns based on change/hope are very common in politics.Obama's campaign shouldn't be viewed any differently. During the last Quebec referendum , the PQ/BQ considered a yes vote as a vote for change. Mayor Miller argued a vote for him was a vote for change. Both Cons. and Libs in past elections have campaigned on the same theme.

    I don't see it as sarcasm but some cynicism is reasonable here.

  19. .'The hypocrite is Harper and you're simply trying to put lipstick on that pig.'
    Terry 1
    Depending on one's pespective …(the gist of the post) ,you could be right, though I must point out the many vacillations of Mr Igatieff's, starting with “A coalition if necessary..but not necessarily a coalition “….Iggy's recent assertion that he HAD the power to originally negate that now famous political faux pas that he signed on to(and then HE and he alone realized what offense the electorate took to such a nefarious proposal)… claimed while wooing the West this past week.
    AHHH politicians…..hedge riders all!!

  20. No, David.

    In other words, differences of opinion are tolerated; intolerance as a way of life is not.

    Campaigns of hope and change are common, I agree. But that doesn't automatically mean that change isn't going to happen, and it doesn't necessarily mean the politician who uses it is being insincere.

  21. “A coalition if necessary..but not necessarily a coalition “.

    Northside777….Iggy will eventually have proven that the coalition was the undoing of Harper as PM. Harper will wear last November as his legacy. That is somewhat unfortunate although you won't see me trying to change that.

    In my opinion Harper is a dead man walking as PM and his party of idealogical control freaks is yet to understand that.

  22. Some might still point out that the case of the rendition of Maher Arar is not so simple, as he does remain a citizen of Syria (despite his apparent renunciation of said citizenship), since Syria does not recognize renunciation of citizenship. Ignatieff's position would acknowledge that the US was right to deport Arar to Syria, while Harper's position recognizes that any removal in this case should have been to Canada.

  23. Some might still point out that the case of the rendition of Maher Arar is not so simple, as he does remain a citizen of Syria (despite his apparent renunciation of said citizenship), since Syria does not recognize renunciation of citizenship. Ignatieff's position would acknowledge that the US was right to deport Arar to Syria, while Harper's position recognizes that any removal in this case should have been to Canada.

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