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Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories: On September 6th, people of Vancouver caught wind that Stephan Harper was participating in an invite only event, and on short notice came to voice their concerns with the direction he is leading Canada. Harper is widely seen by many to be far too subservient to corporate power and militarism. In the middle of a beautiful work day, hundreds came out to make their voices heard.
“I’m here to protest against the Harper government’s big increases in military spending; they’re talking about spending 500 billion dollars on the military over the next twenty years. That includes [spending] on things like the 30 billion dollars for the fighter jet purchase, the 35 billion on increasing military aspects of the Canadian navy.” stated Kimball Cariou of a local group, Stopwar. “This is money that should go towards improving the environment in Canada, towards social housing for homeless people, improving conditions on reserves for aboriginal people; there are all sorts of things that can be done to make this a better country, instead of wasting [money] on armaments and killing people in other parts of the world.”
Similarly, another protestor, Tim Kennelly, extended his outrage towards Harper’s one-sided position with regards to the Israel/ Palestinian conflict. “Harper has cut funding to groups who are pro-Palestinian. I feel disgusted by the Canadian governments foreign policy with respect to Israel which engages in the criminal occupation of Palestine and which is denying Palestinians their right of return and their right to self determination.”
A local construction worker, Trevor Walper, expressed his disbelief with Harper’s environmental policy. “As a working Canadian, I find that Harper’s use of my tax dollars has been really deplorable. I am not a big fan of those Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan and other tar sands related pipelines. I really can’t believe how they’re just trying to mainline right through the environmental regulation process...it just rubs me the wrong way.”
Caity Goerke, a local student, extended Walper’s concern, and stated there was a connection between Harper’s policy on the environment, and his approach to women’s issues. “It’s the same kind of patriarchal language and patriarchal policy that has lead to the destruction of the environment, as well as discrimination and oppression against women.” There were a number of women’s rights advocates holding signs reading, “stop cutting funding to women’s programs.”
Eric Doherty also postulates that Stephen Harper puts the interests of corporations over those of the Canadian citizenry. He went on to detail how this effects not only Canadians, but people all over the world. “Harper’s foreign mining policy is very much the same as his domestic mining policy: he’s in the back pocket of the big oil companies, the big mining companies -- the most destructive of the 1%. We’re seeing that with mining tar sands oil here in Canada, the most destructive mining project in the world, but of course he’s also pushing the most destructive mining projects elsewhere in the world in Latin America and Africa." Doherty explained why it is so imperative for the people of Vancouver to oppose Harper’s policies. “Those companies’ headquarters are right here in Vancouver. The Harper agenda and the mining company agenda and the big oil agenda are all tied up together. Right here in Vancouver we’ve got the mining company headquarters, and the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the tankers, so we’ve got a real focus to hammer on Harper and that agenda.”
It is clear that many people oppose the corporate and military orientation of Stephen Harper’s foreign policy. It is clear many people oppose having a seemingly venal Prime Minister. It is clear many are not comfortable with increased spending on militarism, unwavering support for Israeli policy, foreign mining operations, and Canada’s position on environmental issues. To those whom are concerned with the direction Stephan Harper and the Conservative Party are leading Canada, the answer’s there right before your eyes: rise.