Donald Gustein discusses Harper's think tank army on CBC's The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright

March 1, 2015

Prime Minister Harper is changing the country, slowly implementing low taxes, free trade, open markets, and deregulation, says CBC's Michael Enright.

In an interview on The Sunday Edition, Donald Gutstein suggests those changes are permanent and that Canada's reputation is changing from a democratic nation to a country driven by the market.

Listen to the full interview


Dying with Dignity becomes first organization to have charitable status revoked after CRA political audits

Jan. 21, 2015

Stephen Harper continues to reconnect with his base as he prepares for this year’s election. First he reached out to Conservative voters in Vancouver’s suburbs (Vancouver’s 905 equivalent) with a slightly veiled boost to the ‘no’ side in the upcoming plebiscite on transit financing. No more taxes. Period. 

Now he’s courting Canada’s 3.5 million evangelical Christians by pulling the charitable status of Dying With Dignity Canada, a group best known for making the case for physician-assisted death. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada was an intervenor in the Supreme Court of Canada case on physician-assisted death (Carter v. Attorney-General of Canada), in which a decision is expected soon. The Fellowship argued that “nothing in the Charter compels the legalization of private killings of our fellow citizens. That Rubicon has rightly never been crossed. It should not be crossed here.”

By muting one of the strongest voices on the pro-physician-assisted death side, Harper is alerting his evangelical supporters he’s on their side.

It’s more than strange that it took 33 years for the CRA to discover it issued Dying With Dignity’s charitable tax number in error—discovered conveniently in time to help Harper’s re-election bid.


Read more about the political audit on Dying with Dignity


Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists are self-censoring statements after CRA audits

Jan. 19, 2015

The admission by the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists that the group is self-censoring statements supporting the need for a ban on pesticides harmful to bees comes the same day as the launch of Red Tape Awareness Week.

Last year the group—a registered charity—received a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency warning about political material on its website. The letter cautioned the group to refrain from undertaking partisan activities, and added that “this letter does not preclude any future audits.” Self-censorship by the field naturalists and dozens of other environmental advocacy groups inevitably followed.

One  consequence of self-censorship will be fewer calls for government regulation of harmful practices. That suits the Harper government just fine, since it has already labeled all regulation as red tape.

On January 19, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business launched its sixth annual Red Tape Awareness Week. The event was warmly greeted by Treasury Board President Tony Clement, who discussed his government’s commitment to cutting regulations through the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan. It introduced Bill C-21, The Red Tape Reduction Act, in January 2014.

Threatening groups calling for regulation; lauding the Harper government’s efforts to reduce harmful red tape, AKA regulation. It’s another example of Harperism in action.


Read about the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists decision to change the name of the organization. 

Read about the CRA targeting charitable organizations for political activity



Harper overturns conventional wisdom to maintain perpetual war in the Middle East

Jan. 8, 2015

As the ancient Indian proverb has it, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The saying was applied by the United States during the Cold War to justify alliances with brutal dictators such as the rabidly anti-communist Augusto Pinochet. It is now being utilized by the Obama administration to thaw relations with Iran, as both nations find themselves on the same side in the war against the Islamic State.

Not Stephen Harper though. He’s declared war against the Islamic State, but he’s not easing up in his implacable hostility to Iran. For Harper, the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy. Why? Because as Harperism explains, a key to Harper’s domestic policy is perpetual war, a concept developed by Leo Strauss and American neoconservatives. They say it’s the way to keep a nation strong.

Harper’s best friend in the world is Israel, which is engaged in never-ending struggles with Iran and many other Middle Eastern states. For Harper, any enemy of my friend is my enemy, and perpetual war can continue.


Read more about Harper's new anti-terror laws.



Gutstein credits Harper with "Ford Nation" move for involvement in the "No" campaign in BC transit referendum

Jan. 13, 2015

Why is federal Conservative insider Hamish Marshall leading the “no” side in the upcoming B.C. transportation plebiscite for Greater Vancouver residents? It’s odd when even big business, a natural Conservative Party ally, is lined up solidly on the “yes” side to fund road and transit improvements in the heavily congested Lower Mainland. It’s also odd that the federal party would intervene in local affairs.

Marshall’s Conservative credentials are front and centre, so it’s no secret of Stephen Harper’s interest. Marshall was Harper’s manager of strategic planning and Conservative pollster during the 2008 election. He was also responsible for setting up the pro-oil sands Ethical Oil web site that was so heavily promoted by the Harper government.

It’s also no secret this is an election year. In a Ford Nation move, Harper, the renowned tax-cutter, is letting his base of suburban, car-driving, conservative voters understand that he won’t let them be saddled with a new tax. He’s balanced the budget. He’s cut taxes. He’s given more back to the taxpayers. And he’ll stop this nonsense.

It’s a win-win situation for Harper. If the “no” side wins, he’s the hero of the hour. But even if the “no” side loses Harper still wins because he will have demonstrated once again that he is steadfast in his support for the little guy (or middle class?).


Read Donald Gutstein's interview with The Georgia Straight

Read about the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's links to the federal Conservative party. 



Harper transforming Canada from democratic state into market state, aruges Donald Gustein in Harperism

Dec. 1, 2014

In a Q&A with Donald Gutstein, The Hill Times asks who should read Harperism and why is it important? 

Donald says, "Many excellent books about Harper focus on the man himself, the clever, careful, ruthless strategist and the profoundly anti-democratic figure. Michael Harris's Party of One sets the standard for deconstructing the prime minister. Harperism adds another dimensions - a set of ideas that are effectively promoted by a network of neoliberal think tanks. In fact, the book devotes more attention to the ideas than to Harper. It looks at the origin of these ideas, the think tanks that wrap the ideas in research and deliver them to the media for distribution to target audiences, and the consequences for Canadians. This book should be a good read for people who believe politics is as much about ideas as people." 


Read the full interview here

Check out The Hill Times Best Books of 2014, featuring Harperism


Auditgate: CRA audits charities for political activities while right-wing think tanks go unnoticed 

Nov. 14, 2014

As the scandal of the Canada Revenue Agency's political audits of charities unfold in the media, another scandal is quietly developing, says Globe and Mail columnist Gerald Caplan. Right-wing think tanks and conservative groups such as the Fraser Institute, which has been granted charitable status, has not reported any scrutiny from the CRA, despite obvious political leanings. Meanwhile, the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists are facing potential audit following their report to two Conservative ministerst that a government-approved chemical could  permanently damage bee colonies.

Groups with charitable status are required to be non-partisan, and can use no more than 10% of their resources for political activites. Caplan points to Donald Gutstein's Harperism for full context on the conservative groups such as the Fraser Institute that has escaped review by the CRA and boast a healthy relationship with Stephen Harper.

Yet another scandal is the CRA's decision to lay off international tax auditors who investigate the tax evasion of corporations. Caplan says that where former U.S. President Nixon failed, when he attempted to use the IRS to "screw his political enemies," Harper's government is succeeding in making a routine of the CRA audits.

"The question isn't why the government is going after those enemies," writes Caplan. "It's how they're getting away with it."


Read Gerald Caplan's full article in the Globe and Mail

Learn more about the CRA targetting birdwatchers for political activity, on CBC

Hear Harper's response to charges of bias in CRA's political audits

Read about Harper's "gutter politics" from Michael Harris in iPolitics



Harper confirms his stealth transformation of Canada

Sept. 30 2014

Stephen Harper believes he has transformed Canada, according to his comments in an interview with Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker. In a one-on-one interview at Goldman Sachs earlier this fall, Baker asked the prime minister if he believes he has made Canada a more conservative country.

"We've made a policy of moving incrementally but constantly in our eight and a half years in office," Harper responded. "I think we've moved and I think the country has moved with us." Harper's comments are his first on record that confirm his agenda to incrementally shift Canada toward a new kind of politics.

In Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada, author Donald Gutstein suggests that Canada will be unrecognizable when Stephen Harper is through with it. While Harper's transformations have been incremental, they are fundamental, like retiring the word "progressive" from use after 60 years and rebranding his party as the Conservative Party of Canada to eliminating the long form census and eradicatign scientific knowledge but closing science libraries across the country. 


Read more about Harper's Q&A in the Toronto Star.

Read more about Harper's election strategy in the Globe and Mail.


More Harperism News

The National Post: Anti-Harper hysteria is puzzling, but so is the total devotion of his supporters 

The Georgia Straight: Author Donald Gutstein reveals extent of Stephen Harper revolution in new book Harperism

The Tyee: Meet the people who made possible Stephen Harper's Reign

National Newswatch: Canadians need to take their country before its gone

Rabble.ca Podcast: Harperism and how it changed Canada



Is there a pattern behind the actions of Stephen Harper's government? Recent news articles show how the political perspective of Harperism comes into play in a variety of areas—union relations, environmental policies, and funding for scientific research. Groups that challenge specific elements of Harperism -- like environmental groups -- often find themselves under attack.

Check out the following links to see how these issues discussed in Donald Gutstein's book are playing out in Canada today:  


CRA Squeezes Charities

Toronto Star: Charities under audit band together

Toronto Star: Small B.C. charity struggles with onerous Canada Revenue Agency demands

Your Legal Rights: Foreign-aid charities join together to challenge Canada Revenue Agency audits

Globe and Mail: As CRA audits charities, there's a scandal within a scandal

CBC: Revenue Canada targets birdwatchers for political activity

CBC: Harper rejects charges of bias in CRA scrutiny of birdwatchers

iPolitics: Stephen Harper's "gutter politics" is for the birds

Toronto Star: Think tank says it was targeted with tax audit because of its politics

The Canadian Press: Right-leaning charities escape tax audits, Broadbent Institute says

National Post: More than 400 academics demand CRA cancel "politically motivated" audit of left-leaning think-tank


The Harper Government and Unions

The Tyee: Signs Harper is Gearing Up to Declare War on Unions

iPolitics: Two public sector unions working to defeat Harper government

National Post: Public sector union PSAC takes Harper government to court

Our Times: Harper Goes After Unions


Think Tank Cheerleaders for Harperism

The Globe and Mail: Harper should boost employment by keeping deficit, think tank urges

The Harbinger: Council of Canadian Academics a Harper Phony Think Tank

Toronto Star: Stephen Harper quickly steps away from Senate reform


The Environment—Dissed and Dismissed

Globe and Mail: Why Stephen Harper will move the climate needle in 2015

Global News: Harper gov't can't be trusted, N.L. premier says after CETA meeting

National Post: Federal budget 2013- Cuts undermine Environment Canada's mandate

Green Party: Harper government guts environmental funding

Tony Burman for the Toronto Star: What Barack Obama can teach Stephen Harper

CBC Radio: Evola visa ban "disgraceful" 


First Nations Reserves for Sale

The Globe and Mail: Harper government to introduce law to allow private property on reserves

APTN National News: New matrimonial property laws a slippery slope to reserve land for sale

Toronto Sun: Feds to introduce law allowing property rights on reserves


Shutting Down Science

Toronto Star: Slumping oil price undercuts Stephen Harper

Toronto Star: Stephen Harper's blatant hypocrisy on science

Macleans.ca: Scientists vs. Harper

National Post: New York Times criticizes Harper government's alleged muzzling of scientists to protect oil sands

Foreign affairs: No more Mr. Soft Power

Toronto Star: Immigrants a key bloc for all parties in 2015 election

The Globe and Mail: Harper commemorates 100th anniversary of First World War

canada.com: PM Harper, GG Johnston touch on history as Canada celebrates 147th birthday


The Federal Election - A look ahead

Toronto Star: Vision, not personality, key to next federal election

Macleans': Election 2015: No easy path to victory

Globe and Mail: The year in review: Has Harper gone from leader to liability?

Toronto Star: Stephen Harper consistent but out of touch

Globe and Mail: Conservatives lead rival parties in fundraising ahead of 2015 election

Huffington Post: 4 things to keep your eye on in Canadian politics in 2015

Lawrence Martin for the Globe and Mail: A pro-active PM seizes the agenda

Tom Walkom for the Toronto Star: Stephen Harper's legacy fated to endure

Globe and Mail: For Harper, a bad day at the book store

Forbes: Look North GOP -- Canada is Balancing its budget by politically outfoxing liberals