Stephen Harper was right when he mused about finding the lost ship of Sir John Franklin in Canada’s arctic, two weeks to the day before it was found.
Stephen Harper was right to offer the first official apology to Canada’s aboriginal peoples and to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to hear the stories of those who experienced the nation’s “Indian” residential schools. He was also right to negotiate in good faith with the National Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations a legislative initiative that would have provided a significant step toward releasing control of aboriginal education to aboriginal leaders; a proposal that was rejected by the 700 AFN chiefs who expressed a diverse range of opinions on a preferred course of action.
Mr. Harper was also right to support the disclosure of salaries by aboriginal leaders acting as stewards of federal government dollars budgeted to meet the needs of first nations’ people; not a concern for those who have nothing to hide, but a concern for those who are benefiting personally at the expense of those they are supposed to be serving.
Stephen Harper was right to raise the age of consent for sexual activity with an adult in Canada from 14 to 16 years of age, providing protection for countless children from sexual predators who were taking advantage of Canada’s prior law to groom young boys and girls for abuse. An additional two years of maturity provides greater protection. Alongside this initiative was support to establish a minimum sentence of 5 years for sexually abusing a child; and, extending Canada’s Criminal Code provisions in this regard to Canadians travelling overseas, so called child sex tourists.
Stephen Harper was right to take additional steps to protect children, women and men through development and implementation of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking – an initiative that requires cross-departmental cooperation at the federal, provincial and municipal levels as well as working with non-governmental organizations. Bill C-36, the “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act,” which revises Canada’s prostitution laws, will fill an obvious gap in the Plan.
Stephen Harper was right to step away from his original plan to balance the federal budget in response to a global economic crisis. Instead his government introduced economic measures to rebuild crumbling infrastructure, provide educational and vocational retraining and other economic stimulus. And, he’s right to return to the target of balancing the budget.
Stephen Harper was right to increase funding to the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, changing focus to the Housing First initiative – for which his government funded a multi-year 5-city study that confirms the life changing importance of the transition from unhoused to housed, and the critical need for provincial, municipal and NGO social service support for it to work.
Stephen Harper has been proven right in reshaping Canada’s international development strategy. The testimony of global business leaders, government leaders from Africa and senior representatives from the United Nations – including Secretary General Ban Ki Moon – informs that the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiative has engaged corporations, non-governmental organizations and government in partnerships that are transforming the economies of developing nations; which will eliminate their development assistance needs.
Stephen Harper was right to recognize that over 3/4 of the world’s people belong to religious communities and to properly understand 21st century diplomatic engagement requires understanding the significance and influence of religion, establishing the Office of Religious Freedom in the Department of Foreign Affairs as a vital component of Canada’s international efforts on human rights.
And, in time, both Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau got around to publicly affirming that Stephen Harper was right about Israel.
Most recently, Stephen Harper was right that Canada faces a real and present danger from ISIS/ISIL and Canadian response to this international threat must include military engagement alongside allies, as well as continuing humanitarian assistance.
Of course, Prime Minister Harper has not done this on his own. When in minority government, it took all-party agreement to raise the age of consent. Some of the initiatives supported by the Harper Government have been introduced by Members of Parliament as private member’s bills, recognizing the effort of cause champions in bringing both concern and legislation before Parliament.
I wouldn’t suggest that Stephen Harper is always right. At the same time, the opposition party leaders have offered, well, opposition and little else. I, along with Canadians, await their proposals for culturally, societally and internationally important initiatives. Without such proposals, Stephen Harper will be right again, that Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau have nothing to offer.