Photo: flickr/Stephen Harper

“Belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of it’s main causes.”
 — Donald Rumsfeld

Defence minister Jason Kenney has been making the mainstream media rounds, dropping hints about Canada’s potentially expanded role in the battle against ISIS. A move that could see Canadian troops in Syria and Libya, in addition to Iraq, for a mission that is not NATO, UN or humanitarian.

Kenney denies this expansion will mean a combat mission. Although there’s been plenty of double-speak leaving the door open for just that.

After all, we were already promised no Canadian troops involved in ground combat in Iraq — yet that is precisely what occurred. There has also been a recent concerted effort by the government to exploit our caring for groups targeted by ISIS, by conflating our concerns with the mission the Harper government is sending us into.

In other words “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” The Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush playbook.

Coincidentally, just as our economy takes a hit over falling oil prices and with an election on the horizon, we have also been hearing potential ‘terrorism’ stories in the news of late. Not actual terrorism threats mind you, but ‘suspected’ or ‘potential’ terrorism threats.

As though mainstream media were working with some Harper PR department to get the public onside before Harper’s dangerous so-called ‘anti-terrorism’ bill, Bill C-51, is passed into law and before more troops are deployed.

What Canada once stood for is slipping away before our very eyes.

The Harper government has eroded what it means to be Canadian. Or a just society. Its contempt for democracy, the charter of rights and freedoms and tolerance, is evident in every act of tampering, every mean-spirited piece of legislation, every manipulative re-engineering of how this country runs.

Harper hides in a closet yet adopts the postures of war. Harper pumps himself up by sending Canadians into wars — only to abandon their needs when they return home with physical and psychological injuries that is, if they come home at all.

There are many roles to be played in this conflict and Canada could have played a useful one, instead of the perilous role Harper is setting us on. At a time when our traditional role as a peace-keeping nation would’ve been invaluable, the Harper government has completely squandered that currency.

Harper will bring ISIS to our door to rationalize his despotic ambitions. Then he will use what he has wrought to justify more secret acts of policing.

It seems no coincidence that Bill C-51 is being brought in now. The Harper government is actively manufacturing the perception of terrorist threats to Canada, while inviting actual threats. The path it has set us on will not keep us safe.

Harper’s ideology is the pathological thinking that helped set the stage for ISIS to be created in the first place. Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush thinking. Governments that serve corporate masters, not the citizens of a country.

Harper is an agent of the toxic agenda that has gutted the middle class, is trampling civil liberties, furthering income inequality, ignoring the very real and pressing perils of climate change. It is an agenda that busts unions, puts downward pressure on wages, gives tax cuts to the wealthy, deregulates the financial sector.

It seeks to eliminate environmental protections while simultaneously painting environmentalists as ‘terrorists,” or ridicules them as “hippie tree huggers.” Anything to turn the public against their own best interests.

An agenda the world over that has eroded employment stability, increased poverty and income inequality that leaves many adrift and susceptible to the very extremist views Harper claims to be fighting. 

This is a new kind of war. Those American profit-from-misery corporate prison businesses that Harper is gunning to set up in Canada, makes fertile breeding ground for new recruits into extremism. Whether it be religious extremism, or political extremism.

Whether ISIS or fascism, we are laying the groundwork for the very things we all claim we do not want. The more we do nothing to combat dangerous income inequality and climate change, the more fertile that ground will be.

In other words, intolerance, hatred, violence and war do not put an end to intolerance, hatred, violence and war.

No one is suggesting that nothing should be done to counter growing extremism. No one is suggesting that ISIS is not a threat that needs to be addressed. But we seem to be ignoring what is inadvertently contributing to this growing threat. 
It is how we engage in this threat going forward, that is critical. Otherwise all we will accomplish is more heads of this hydra springing up for each one we chop off.

Once we are fully on the dangerous course Harper is setting, it becomes increasingly difficult to turn around. It will sink us into a costly hole for years to come, and we will be the worse for it.

But the Harpers of the world are fond of setting us on paths where you can’t readily put the toothpaste back in the tube, as it were. At least not without plenty of misery and casualties along the way. 

Sadly, those things matter little to a would-be despot.

Heather Morgan is a writer and musician living in Toronto. She tweets @HeatherMoandCo

Photo: flickr/Stephen Harper