A Fresh Perspective: Proud to be a Canadian

"Stephen Harper made Canada not only a player but also a candidate for most valuable player."

Stephen Harper addressing public after Ottawa attacks, October 22, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Stephen Harper addressing public after Ottawa attacks, October 22, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I am Canadian. I was born in Montreal, raised in Montreal and graduated high school, college and law school in Montreal. The values I grew up on were both Jewish and Canadian values. While I now live in Israel, I still hold dear these values which made me into who I am today.
As a Canadian, I was always proud of the great stories of Canadian heroism which we were taught in school. Canada has a long history of standing up for freedom. Unfortunately, until recently, it felt only like history.
For example, when the free world was threatened in the Second World War, Canada carried out a vital role in defending the Free World and contributed forces beyond what can be expected of a small nation of then only 11 million people.
Between 1939 and 1945 more than one million Canadian men and women served full-time in the armed services! More than 42,000 were tragically killed while heroically defending freedom and Canadian values.
Canada was a lighthouse for freedom, with a clear moral compass and showing the world how a small country that is ready to stand up for what is right can make a real difference.
However, in the past few decades, Canada became the country of neutrality.
Canada started adopting policies that were more appropriate to Swiss values than Canadian values. Instead of standing up for freedom, Canada stayed away from big questions of international relations, preferring the safe route of consensus and neutrality to the tough battle for freedom and values. By trying to please everyone, Canada’s moral voice was silenced. Canadians were seen as “nice and friendly” but nothing more. They had no voice.
This was true until Stephen Harper became prime minister. Since then, Canada has regained its voice and its moral clarity. It has regained its moral leadership.
Prime Minister Harper once said that “Canada is not just any country, but a people determined to do right – compassionate neighbors, courageous warriors, and confident partners; a bastion of freedom in an unfree world.” Since becoming prime minister, Harper has made sure that this statement would be a continuing reality.
In the Middle East, Harper has led the world with his moral clarity. With the rise of Islamic State, Canada immediately agreed to contribute troops to defeat this evil group. How can a freedom-loving country do anything else? When the world powers preferred personal interest over values and followed the American president’s utopian vision set out in the dangerous agreement with Iran, Canada made it clear that it would not remove sanctions on the Islamic, gay-hanging, freedom-hating regime as long as it does not change its ways. As the world ignored the sponsorship of terrorism, the affronts to human rights, and the regional destabilization, let alone the continued calls for the destruction of both America and Israel, Canada did not budge and, rather, questioned how world leaders could trust such an evil regime.
In a world in which Islamic State and Iran are fighting for supremacy in radical Islam, Canada is the only country that chose the right side, which is opposing both of these evil groups. This has been done under Harper’s leadership. Canada, in the years before Harper, would have rather chosen the path of “going along to get along.” Harper chose the path of moral clarity and leadership.
Still in the Middle East, Canada stands strong for the only democracy in the region, Israel, against all its detractors, even paying a heavy price in the UN for this moral stance. As some threaten Israel with boycotts, Harper was incredibly clear about his support for freedom and democracy – for Israel. In the Knesset this past January, he said:
“I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world. It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society, a vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country… with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading ‘Start-up’ nation. In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life. And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Canada’s voice was especially loud in opposing this act of aggression by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Many world leaders were afraid to confront him.
Harper was not afraid to confront Putin and tell him directly to “get out of Ukraine.” He even stood up clearly and said: “I don’t think Russia under Vladimir Putin belongs in the G7. Period.”
If Canadian values had been made irrelevant to international relations by successive Liberal governments before Harper, he made them relevant once again. Former foreign minister John Baird said: “Sometimes you should be a referee and a rule-setter, but if you want to get a certain result, you have to be a player. When it comes to promoting Canadian values and interests, we can’t afford to not be a player.”
Harper made Canada not only a player but also a candidate for most valuable player. In fact, with Harper’s proven leadership, Canada was named the most reputable country in the world, for the fourth time in six years, by the Reputation Institute, a global private consulting firm based in Boston and Copenhagen.
The world now once again can look to Canada for moral leadership.
Without even going into economic questions, or delving into the way Harper helped Canada be the nation with one of the best economic growth rates (with a GDP growth of 16.1 percent since 2006), the best job creation (with over 1.2 million new net jobs), and the best growth on middle-class incomes among any of the advanced developed nations since the end of the global financial crisis, it is clear that he has done great good to Canada’s international standing.
Elections in Canada were recently announced for October 19. For some unexplainable reason, Harper is currently trailing in the polls.
As a proud Canadian living abroad, surrounded by people from various countries who look at Harper’s leadership with great awe, I want to give a clear message to Harper: Thank you for making me prouder than ever to be Canadian.
The writer is an attorney and former legislative adviser to the Knesset’s coalition chairman; he previously served in a legal capacity at the Foreign Ministry. He is a graduate of McGill University Law School and Hebrew University’s master’s program in public policy.