Earlier this week ConservativeHome drew attention to the outstanding conservatism of Australia’s John Howard. Also hugely promising is Canada’s tax-cutting, Kyoto-sceptical, tough-on-crime Stephen Harper. He visited Britain last month en route to the G8 Summit in St Petersburg. Whilst in London he called on Margaret Thatcher and gave a terrific speech to the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce. The speech received zero coverage in the UK media. That is unfortunate as it was hugely positive about Canada’s relationship with Britain. Pasted below are a few key extracts from Mr Harper’s speech. They’re well worth a two or three minute read…
A tribute to the legacy of the British Empire: "Now I know it’s unfashionable to refer to colonialism in anything other than negative terms. And certainly, no part of the world is unscarred by the excesses of empires. But in the Canadian context, the actions of the British empire were largely benign and occasionally brilliant."
The great bond between Canada and Britain in defeating evil: "When Britain has bled, Canada has bled. A generation of our young men share eternity with British Tommies in the fields of France. Another generation of Britons and Canadians fought side by side against Nazi fascism. Yet another helped our American cousins prevail over the menace of Soviet communism. And ever since that brief, illusory moment when we thought we were witness to “the end of history,” we have been allied in a new global conflict. It is a conflict without borders. A conflict fought abroad and at home. A conflict in which the aggressor stands for nothing yet seeks to impose its will. Through the destruction of terrorism. Through the slaughter of the innocent. And through the perversion of a faith. So once more we face, as Churchill put it “gangs of bandits who seek to darken the light of the world. And once more we must appeal to our values, marshal our resources and steadfastly apply our will to defeat them. This war on terror will not be easy. Nor will it be short. But it must be won. And Canada’s new national government is absolutely determined, once again, to stand shoulder to shoulder with our british allies, to stay the course and to win the fight."
After years of Liberal weakness Canada is reassuming its defence responsibilities: "Ladies and gentlemen, during last winter’s election campaign, i made it crystal-clear where my party stood on national defence, foreign policy and the fight against terror. We promised to rebuild Canada’s long-neglected armed forces. To reassert Canadian sovereignty over our arctic territories. And to reclaim the modest leadership role we once held on the world stage. And this is exactly what we have been doing since Canadians gave us their trust on January 23rd. One of my first actions as Prime Minister was to visit our soldiers in southern Afghanistan – who are standing shoulder to shoulder with British forces in the Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Together, they’re taking the fight to the Taliban and helping the Afghan government assert control over these areas. And they are helping the Afghan people rebuild their war-ravaged country. Canada, like Britain, has committed to this mission for at least two more years. And committed to doing our duty for global peace and security over the long term. Which is why my government increased defence spending by two and a half billion pounds (over $5 billion) in our first budget. We are expanding the Canadian armed forces by recruiting and training 23,000 new regular and reserve troops. And we are providing them with the tools they need to carry out their missions. Last month, we launched a major new military procurement program."
Canada is an energy storehouse: "Our government is making new investments in renewable energy sources such as biofuels. And an ocean of oil-soaked sand lies under the muskeg of northern Alberta – my home province. The oil sands are the second largest oil deposit in the world, bigger than Iraq, Iran or Russia; exceeded only by Saudi Arabia. Digging the bitumen out of the ground, squeezing out the oil and converting it in into synthetic crude is a monumental challenge. It requires vast amounts of capital, brobdingnagian technology, and an army of skilled workers. In short, it is an enterprise of epic proportions, akin to the building of the pyramids or China’s great wall. Only bigger. By 2015, Canadian oil production is forecast to reach almost 4 million barrels a day. Two-thirds of it will come from the oil sands. Even now, Canada is the only non-OPEC country with growing oil deliverability. And let’s be clear. We are a stable, reliable producer in a volatile, unpredictable world. We believe in the free exchange of energy products based on competitive market principles, not self-serving monopolistic political strategies. That’s why policymakers in Washington – not to mention investors in Houston and New York – now talk about Canada and continental energy security in the same breath. That’s why Canada surpassed the Saudis four years ago as the largest supplier of petroleum products to the United States. And that’s why industry analysts are recommending Canada as “possessing the most attractive combination of circumstances for energy investment of any place in the world.” British companies are already significant players in the Canadian energy sector. BP has been there for 50 years. It’s already one of our leading producers of natural gas and it has a major stake in Canada’s next huge gas development – The Mackenzie River delta in the northwest territories. BG group has also accumulated a large exploration stake in the mackenzie river valley. There are trillions of cubic feet of gas in the region, and we are hopeful that the huge pipeline needed to deliver it to southern markets will finally go ahead.
British firms invested nearly three billion pounds (over $6 billion) in our energy and metals sectors last year. And i think we’ll see even more British investment as word of Canada’s stature as the west’s most important energy storehouse gets out."
God save The Queen: "Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by saying that I have no doubt that the “bonds of comradeship” Mr. Churchill talked about in the early 20th century will remain just as strong throughout the 21st. The “little island” and the “great dominion” are eternally bonded by language, culture, economics and values. That’s why our business relationships are so strong and successful and why they will only growing stronger in the future. It’s why our troops are again serving side by side – this time in Afghanistan – defending freedom and building democracy. Why our intelligence services are working hand in glove to keep our homelands safe and secure. And why iIam honoured to have had this opportunity to speak to your organizations today. Thank you. Merci beaucoup. God bless Canada and God save the Queen."
I would be very interested in receiving a YourPlatform piece from any ConservativeHome reader who would like to advocate a Conservative foreign policy built around stronger relations with the Anglosphere and Commonwealth nations. Please email me here.