Betrayed: Stephen Harper’s war on principled conservatism – A Review

51i7c9ikkIL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Various people have asked me why I will not vote for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in this election. While the Cons’ failure to seriously tackle the deficit, reduce the size of government and begin to dismantle the Liberal state are all good reasons, I probably would hold my nose one more time if it were not for one, fundamental fact: C-51. And I might have even given Harper a pass on C-51 if I didn’t know the Conservative record on free speech, the perversion of the Human Rights Commission and the legal thuggery which attended it.

Connie Fournier and her husband Mark are not going to be voting for the Harper Conservatives either: Connie has detailed her reasons in Betrayed: Stephen Harper’s war on principled conservatism.

Full disclosure: I’ve met Connie and Mark once and I provided an affidavit in their defence when Dr. Dawg sued them for libel (a case which they won at great personal expense). Connie and I chat on Google and, in so far as it is possible to have friends you only chat with on the internet, I’d like to think Connie is one of mine.

The Fourniers are ordinary, middle class Canadians – Mark drives long haul trucks, Connie was a homeschooling stay-at-home mum – who were politically involved as far back as the Canadian Alliance. They started a website called Free Dominion in 2001 where conservatives of various sorts could post topics and comments and have a good time arguing among themselves.

It was a very successful site and with that success came a degree of notoriety and, inevitably, more than a few cranks. Free Dominion saw itself as the voice of “principled conservatism” which, in those bygone days was a thing. The Canadian Alliance, successor to Preston Manning’s Reform Party, had seats in Parliament and the right wing wars between purists and pragmatists were just getting underway.

Back in 2001 the power of the internet was barely understood by the political operators in any of the mainstream parties and well beyond the comprehension of the pundit class of the long entrenched Toronto media party. Here were these nobodies, people who had not gone to the right schools, who didn’t see abortion, immigration and homosexuality as part of the “Canadian consensus” and therefore no longer topics of polite conversation, who thought the “science” of global warming was not “settled”, who didn’t reflexively hate the United States, tended to be pro-Israel and found Muslims problematic, who thought government should actually shrink rather than grow less slowly – and these tacky people had thousands of other, likely equally tacky, people coming to their site every day. The internet was facilitating dissent. (The left was having problems of its own with its more doctrinaire elements chatting among themselves at the appropriately named forum “Rabble” created by perennial malcontent, Judy Rebick.)

Other conservative sites arose and there were plenty of conservative bloggers – some were CPC aligned, others were fiercely independent. While dead tree media was more than happy to cover the Harper’s CPC as it did battle with the Liberals, NDP and Bloc, the idea that there was a dissident group of “principled conservatives” was easy for the media to ignore. However, from time to time, in other contexts, Free Dominion would be mentioned and inevitably attract labels like “far right”, “right wing extremist”, “fascist”, “racist” or, occasionally, “neo Nazi”.

2001 was notable for another reason. S.13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, designed to deal with “hate speech”, was extended to cover communications on the internet. This had two effects: first, it allowed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to hear complaints about alleged hate speech, second, it somehow engaged so called investigators at the Commission in ferreting out this “hate speech”.

Free Dominion became – officially – a CHRC target on or around April 5, 2006. That was the day an account called jadewarr was registered. Ironically, as Connie points out, two months after Stephen Harper became Prime Minister for the first time.

The jadewarr account became notorious in a series of CHRC hearings. It was an account to which several CHRC “hate crimes” unit employees used to investigate complaints against particular websites.

But here is the key thing: at the time “jadewarr” registered as a member of Free Dominion there was no complaint registered with the Commission about Free Dominion. A secretive unit of a government agency had taken it upon itself to “investigate” a perfectly legitimate website without the slightest legal authority to do so. Connie and Mark got busy as they learned more about this illegal investigation and they filed Privacy and Freedom of Information requests to obtain the CHRC’s files on Free Dominion. They were stonewalled.

Betrayed gives chapter and verse on the Fournier’s harassment at the hands of the “hate crimes” unit of the CHRC. Unfortunately, for legal reasons they have to leave out the guiding mind of that unit, the revolting Richard Warman. But here is the real rub – this illegal harassment and unlawful stonewalling went on under a Conservative government. Worse, that government – in another case – was perfectly prepared to defend the right of the Commission to enforce s.13. And, worse than that, the Conservative government was unwilling to repeal S.13. In the end S.13 was repealed by way of a private members bill.

In the great world of intelligence and security, the “hate crimes unit” of the CHRC was pretty small potatoes. Their hate sniffer in chief and pretty much solitary complainant had very limited power. (Though his use of that power was described by Tribunal Chair Edward Lustig as “disappointing and disturbing”.)  But the fact was that the management of the CHRC was certainly aware of the actions of their hate crimes unit. They were certainly aware of the outreach that unit had made to assorted police departments. The climate of lawlessness in pursuit of basement Nazis and cranks was at least tacitly sanctioned at the politically appointed, Chief Commissioner level.

The Conservative Cabinet and Stephen Harper did nothing to stop or even rein in the CHRC.

So the question which Betrayed raises is simply this: if the Conservatives under Stephen Harper were willing to allow the gross abuse of process which surrounded the persecutions under S.13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, how can they be trusted with the much more serious powers C-51 would grant them? When you have read Betrayed I suspect you will agree with Connie and Mark that the Conservatives or the Liberals or the NDP must not be given those powers.

Connie and Mark were put through the wringer by the CHRC and sued by Richard Warman in his own name. Even poor John Baglow, aka Dr. Dawg was stupid enough to file a libel claim which he lost, by way of piling on. Apparently Free Dominion represented such a threat to the left/liberal consensus in Canada – which Stephen Harper has eagerly embraced – that it had to be spied upon, hauled before the Commission and lawfared into submission.

Though it all, Connie and Mark have remained remarkably calm. Betrayed sets out the facts of Free Dominion’s betrayal. It outlines the hypocritical pragmatism of the Conservatives and it shows why no political party should ever be entrusted with the powers of C-51.

Remarkably, as the lawlessness and shabbiness of Free Dominion’s and principled conservatives treatment at the hands of the CPC is recited, there is not a bitter word in Betrayed. No invective, no personal attacks – Connie’s gift in Betrayed is a complete lack of rancor. Which makes Betrayed all the more powerful.

Buy it here.

Update: Xanthippa who has attended the many vexatious trials of the Fourniers has a review up of Connie’s book. Typically, Xan cuts right to the chase. Go read it.

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30 thoughts on “Betrayed: Stephen Harper’s war on principled conservatism – A Review

  1. terrence says:

    Well, the cons are the best of a bad lot. The socialists will make the economy much worse than the cons have and will. I just may not vote!

    • Jay Currie says:

      But for c-51 I would agree. The only party with half a chance which voted against C-51 is the NDP and an NDP minority government would not be able to do too much damage as the CPC attempts to get its head out of its ass and elects an actual Conservative as its new leader.

  2. Sheila T says:

    I can’t vote NDP. I’ve lived through that lunacy in Ontario and I don’t want it at the federal level, even with minority status (likely the Libs would prop them up or we’d see a coalition). My answer was to sit it this election out entirely. But I’ve rethought that and will vote Conservative for one reason only: I like my Conservative candidate.

  3. Cindi says:

    No PM of any stripe would completely dismantle the ‘Liberal State’ if that includes health care and education, nor should they.

    However, the main reason for Ms.Fournier not voting for Harper is because he is not the social conservative she would like. The hatred for Harper runs deep since he refused to introduce anti abortion legislation, and that really is what it’s about for radical social conservatives. What other options are there for social conservatives such as Ms. Fournier, certainly not the NDP nor the Liberals so unless the Christian Heritage Party is running somewhere radical social conservatives are out of choices.

    I would take C-51 over the NDP and Liberals any day.

    • Jay Currie says:

      Well, were I you I would go and read the book. I certainly think socons in general and anti-abortion socons, in particular, have been disappointed by Harper. I am neither and I have been too. Largely because Harper utterly failed to behave as a fiscal conservative but also because he and his government have behaved excretably with respect to free speech. C51 was the icing on the cake.

      Your mileage may vary.

    • Belittling social conservatives is not going to save Stephen Harper’s majority. But Jay is correct, you should read the book. One can overlook that fact that Harper is not socially conservative. Heck, we can even overlook that fact that he isn’t fiscally conservative, either. But his relentless attack on our privacy and our freedom of speech is something that many of us simply can’t ignore.

    • Cytotoxic says:

      “I would take C-51 over the NDP and Liberals any day.”

      Which only demonstrates how utterly you lack in principles or frankly brains.

  4. Maikeru says:

    Jay, that was an elegant and accurate synopsis of the who’s, how’s and why’s involved in the nine year stretch of active litigation endured by the Fourners of Free dominion, and members best represented by Greater Vancouver’s Roger Smith (who went to treaty negotiations in Ottawa involuntarily, by invitation of Suex Nation brave John bAglow, and barely escaped with his scalpel …and dignity.

    Full disclosure: I’ve had the good fortune to met Connie thrice, Mark twice, and Roger Smith twice.
    I’ve similarly enjoyed Jay Currie’s company once, in circumstances I’m sure he found equally entertaining.

    FreeDominion’s legal troubles follow the arc of society being crafted around ‘human rights’, which the public must accept as being absent from former consideration by the human race, and so necessary to adopt by law.

    The single most despicable word/concept in 13.1 was ‘likely’, which perverted Canada’s Justice System far beyond the wildest dreams of the most dedicated ‘right wing cyber-perp’

    But here is the real rub – this illegal harassment and unlawful stonewalling went on under a Conservative government.
    Worse, that government – in another case – was perfectly prepared to defend the right of the Commission to enforce s.13.
    And, worse than that, the Conservative government was unwilling to repeal S.13.
    In the end S.13 was repealed by way of a private members bill.

    I would argue that the government of the day inherits the obligations of past governors.
    This prevents ‘whipsawing’ those who give their proxy to governors.

    I see/saw it the responsibility of the ‘Loyal Opposition’ to bring objection to the loathsome CHRAct Sec 13.1, and demand it be rescinded. I was delighted that (Loyal Opposition) MP Dr Keith Martin first addressed the horror being perpetrated upon selected Canadians.

    Sec. 13.1 was put up against the Parliamentary firing squad, but in his last hurrah before retiring to his conscience, the Rt. Hon, Irwin Cotler, Liberal MP Mont Royal (of PET fame) offered Parliament up a ‘tweaked’ alternative to Sec.13.1.
    Mr. Cotler’s resume includes birthing the ‘human rights program at U of McGill, from whence his most publicly acclaimed/exclaimed student, Richard Warman, graduated (the same year Mr. Cotler tossed his hat into the public arena, and won the Mont with +90% of voting constituents)

    If one selected the most marvellous moment in the path to squelching CHRA 13.1, it would ‘likely’ be Levant and Steyn’s testimony before the Parliamentary Committee. Tellingly, that committee then moved to matters which could be conducted in camera.

    So I have a difficult time saddling the CPC government with behaving other than in the manner befitting a minority government at the time, and more blame those who introduced such legislation, and especially those officers of the Court who proved such legislation toxic to society by their ‘legal’ actions.

  5. Jay Currie says:

    Thank you Maikeru. There is an awful lot to cover and this was the third and shortest attempt.

    I understand your defence of the Conservatives. They did inherit a dreadful piece of legislation. However, when they had their majority they had the option of repealling s.13 as a matter of government business. They did not.

    Even as a minority they had the option of appointing a chief Commissioner who would have shut down the “hate crime unit” farce. They did not.

    As a minority they could have investigated the shenanigans of the “hate crime unit” and Richard Warman. They did not.

    As a minority or a majority they could have seen to it that Richard Warman, once he had left the Commission was not employed by any other Federal Government department. They did not.

    They allowed the Commission to run roughshod over the rights of Canadians. Again and again and again. Imagine what they would do with the powers they have given themselves via C51. They must not be given the chance.

  6. I don’t have my copy of this book yet, but will review it on my own site as soon as it arrives and I have had a chance to read it. Having been a member of Free Dominion for several years, I know the author’s views well enough to know that I’ll be able to give it a glowing recommendation.

    I too will not be voting Conservative again, and for the same reasons. Since I refuse to ever vote Liberal or NDP, am not comfortable voting Green, and would sooner die a long, painful, death than vote for the Marxist-Leninist or “First Nations” parties, this in effect means that I will never vote again as neither the Libertarians nor the Christian Heritage ever run candidates in my riding. I’m fine with that. I like the title of P. J. O’Rourke’s book “Don’t Vote – It Only Encourages the Bastards”, although Evelyn Waugh’s “I do not aspire to advise my sovereign in her choice of servants” is more my style (I belong to the older school of Canadian conservative – the High Tory – being one of the last of my breed not to have gone “Red”, I’m afraid).

    Regarding Section 13, the only flaw with your reasoning that I can see is that it seems fairly obvious that had the Conservatives not had a majority in the House of Commons the private members bill to repeal it would never have passed. I agree, however, with the conclusion that the present party leadership, by not getting behind the bill, and worse, by allowing all of the abuses of Section 13 that you have mentioned on their watch, have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with the power of Bill C-51. I would add that none of the others can be trusted with it either. We can only hope that because the bill does not contain a 5-year sunset clause, as Chretien’s very similar bill in 2001 did, the Supreme Court will strike it down as violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (which deceptive document, through its notwithstanding clause, makes Bill C-51 entirely legal and constitutional, should such a sunset clause be included).

  7. Gettingby says:

    In 2012 ten million Conservatives didn’t vote because they didn’t like or trust Romney. This may have helped Obama get reelected. How did that help the Conservative causes? The same mindset seems to be infecting Canadian Conservatives. How much damage can the NDP cause if elected? Sometimes all the choices suck, but I think the NDP are a far greater danger.

    • Jay Currie says:

      Harper should have thought of that when he let the CHRC run roughshod over Canadians’ rights. He should have thought about it as he allowed unvetted immigration from Islamic nations. He should have thought of it as he allowed continued, lavish, funding of the CBC and other wastes of time. He should have thought of it as he continued to pretend that the science supports the global warming hoax.

      Sometimes it is more important to stop the sell out of your own principles than it is to “beat the other guys no matter how”.

    • Cytotoxic says:

      “:How did that help the Conservative causes?”

      By keeping Romney out of power. Romney = Obama. We get it: you have no principles aside from TEAM! It’s not our obligation to indulge your love of TEAM!

  8. Cytotoxic says:

    A nice article and a very good synopsis of the Fournier-CHRC affair and why Harper is evil. But I have to laugh at this notion of ‘principled conservatism’. There is no such thing as ‘principled conservatism’ and your article alludes to this fact. Conservatives like freedom except when they arbitrarily don’t. In the case of the Fourniers it’s when the ‘wrong’ people start immigrating or when people take drugs they don’t want to.

    Conservatism is and always will be a fraud, devoid of any value except in making sure that progressives never face a genuine, coherent opposition. For proof, take the total inability of the likes of the Fourniers and the rest of the dissident blogosphere to make a dent in the Canadian political consensus. And make no mistake, it’s pretty much a failure in that regard.

    • Maikeru says:

      ‘Canadian political consensus’ is the better example of ‘no such thing’.
      Principled conservativism is alive and well, having survived the progressive version of conservatism (which was neither one), and the conservative version of progressivism (the worst elements of both).

      The Fourniers of FreeDominion, and indeed members of that discussion forum, have endured nine years of legal hectoring and cyber-sniping, triggered by an ill-considered effort to – literally – link FreeDominion to a Sec 13.1 Complaint against a third-party/Whatcott pamphlet.

      FreeDominion is ongoing proof that a ‘dissident blogosphere’ is preferable to a ‘diffident blogosphere’ inspired by fear of an arbitrary/tribunal Justice system.

      • Cytotoxic says:

        “Principled conservativism is alive and well”

        Again, no such thing. The fact that Free Dominion is still standing does not provide proof that it’s prospering or effective either.

  9. I bet Stephen Harper is hoping that we are very ineffective….

    • Cytotoxic says:

      Given that he still has his job and The Party didn’t push him out-even that would probably have improved their re-election chances if done 2 years ago-yes, he’s probably very happy that you can’t go a week without blaming the ills of our Canada on those damn foreigners and Muslims.

      • Maikeru says:

        Your factoids are fictitious.
        Why not actually join FreeDominion and confront the Fourniers directly, when their ‘weekly’ views displease you ?
        Alternately, as you’ve ‘likely’ been bounced from there under a different pseudonym, name your own blogspot where lurkers can read your other pearls of wisdom if so inclined.

        One can hope for an NDP minority government utterly reliant on Liberal MP support, with CPC as Loyal Opposition reliant on those constituents they purport to represent by their title.

  10. By the way, the Kindle version of Betrayed is available on Amazon today, absolutely free!

    Please download it and share the link around! The more people who read it, the better!

  11. […] more thing before I start:  here is a most excellent review of the book by Jay Currie (and, no, I did not read his review befo…  The comments are […]

  12. […] to add I in no way accept or endorse – here. You can read the review of Connie’s book here. Rebel.Media folded in the face of the famously litigious Warman. Rebel.Media did not contact me […]

  13. peterodonnell says:

    In my mind, it is Canadian elites in general who have betrayed us, and Harper is more of a failure than a betrayal. He has failed to mount an effective counter-revolution. Now some of his loyalists will say, no, look at how much better things are. Well, I have looked, and things are only better if you assume that otherwise they would have continued to get worse. So that makes comparison difficult. How much worse might they have been? Perhaps we will soon find out.

    In the meantime, what conservatives urgently need to do is to stiffen up the counter-revolutionary agenda of their politics, and come out ready to do battle, not just to survive another day. It may already be too late, but better to die fighting than to live out one’s days as a slave.

  14. peterodonnell says:

    It occurs to me that I shoudl clarify — Harper is (in my opinion) not the ultimate author of this current objectionable brand of authoritarian conservatism, but a natural choice to lead such a party. Yet he would be nothing without the support of a large number of like-minded individuals who basically just see the Conservative Party as a blue template for a statist, pragmatic and cynical governance which is almost identical to that pursued by former Liberal governments, who had similar figurehead leaders representing a much broader consensus about how to milk the system for patronage and influence.

    This government was never about principled conservatism. From the very start, in the winter 2005-06 campaign that led to the first minority Harper government, social conservatives were underbussed (there I go) particularly in Harper’s disavowal of remarks made by his candidate in the Ancaster (Hamilton west) riding. That was the danger signal and since then the party has moved in lock-step towards the creation of a blue-template version of the former government. One or two things might be marginally better now, but we have not seen any real counter-revolution and instead we are seeing very disturbing signs that this government is even less supportive of individual liberty than the alternatives. Their entire concept of free speech seems to be academic in its inspiration, namely this, you are free to repeat whatever the professor says. And he or she had best repeat what the other professors are saying too.

  15. peterodonnell says:

    One would be a naive fool to suppose that the nasty streak in the CPC mainstream came from anywhere but the leader. To be sure, there were more than willing privates in that army, but the general sets the tone and so we can be fairly certain that it was Harper’s idea to slag every rival mercilessly over the years. So when it happens to him over this awful, ill-considered legislation, many would see it as fair play.

    After several elections in which the Liberal leader was substantially pulled apart in public, and I think in Michael Ignatieff’s case quite unfairly, now the Harper loyalists are complaining about “Harper derangement syndrome” every time somebody criticizes their dear leader. And Stephen, ever the innocent boy who could do no wrong, plays the role of naive well-meaning good guy at large. Somebody like that would not want to spy on all of his fellow citizens and unleash the powers that have already been tested out on the Fourniers and one or two other people (you know of whom I speak).

    Now it may not be the case that this was, day after day, top of mind for the PM. However, he has cast himself in the role of super-conservative, the only guy who gets it, the supreme strategizer and quarterback. And it turns out that he was never a conservative at all really, just an opportunist who wanted to live where Pierre Trudeau had once lived, and rule as he had once ruled.

    Conservatives were taken. Many of them are still in the dungeons, saying in essence, whip us one more time. The signs are all there, a party that is sliding slowly down in public opinion polls may start to plummet very soon. The idea that Justin Trudeau is a kid in an adult room may backfire. Justin Trudeau gets a lot of things. I have to wonder if he gets who will run his government for him if he wins the election. Probably not. There is a limit. We have to hope that Mulcair limps in, gets a brief mandate, and that the CPC will implode as more and more people realize how badly they have been deceived, and manipulated.

    And if there is one other thing on my wish list, it is that dark forces in the background will somehow miscalculate, become exposed for who and what they are, and go to their deserved fate of permanent loathing. That may be a bridge too far. This is, after all, little Canada, the country that said, “hey gosh and gee whiz, we’re in the G-7, sure don’t think we deserve that.” And that’s certainly true.

  16. Voice of Reason says:

    Did Connie mention in her book that they had the chance to delete comments and give a formal apology? That simple (and very Canadian act) would have prevented a lot of misery and the loss of a massive amount of money.

    Connie should get a real job and pay her debts.

    This Christian martyr thing is not really working out.

  17. Voice of Reason says:

    >>>> Why not actually join FreeDominion and confront the Fourniers directly,

    Hilarious. Do you have any idea how many accounts the Fourniers deleted because they did not like to hear dissenting opinions? It was their little sandbox. They drove away any moderate opinions and critical thought. Kept the crazies and the open bigots instead.

    That site was anything but an example of free speech.

  18. John Baglow says:

    If I ever had to “lose” a court case, this would be the way to do it.

    It is no surprise that the crowing from the Right has been…muted. Compare it to the previous cock-a-doodle-dooing when the spurious motion to toss the lawsuit was upheld by Harper appointee Roger Annis.

    But keep licking those wounds and tell the world that this was more than a Pyrrhic victory. I smile and wave.

    PS: Good grief, that was a badly-written little booklet. Just saying.

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