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The speech can be found here: http://www.policycounsel.org/18856/39901.html

It is not a 'tongue-in-cheek' remarks, but a serious policy speech.

Here is the CP article:

Ottawa — An eight-year-old Stephen Harper speech, which praises American conservative values, disparages Canada as a “welfare state” and says the jobless aren't worried because they have generous benefits, could provide fresh ammunition to his critics.

The speech was delivered to a 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a little-known right-wing American think tank.

Mr. Harper's speech went unreported at the time and sat unnoticed on the council's website — with Mr. Harper's first name misspelled as Steven — until an opponent of his social policies began shopping it to reporters on Wednesday.

That opponent pointed The Canadian Press towards the speech on condition he not be identified.

How each of the parties would conduct the relationship with the United States has become an election issue.

A spokesman for the Conservatives confirmed Mr. Harper made the speech but said he made the remarks as a private citizen and intended them to be tongue-in-cheek.

At the time, Mr. Harper was between stints as an MP and was vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition and a senior adviser to the old Reform party.

Tory strategist Tim Powers says the remarks have “zero relevance” to the Conservative party or its platform. Powers says the speech was similar to the irreverent addresses made by politicians and the Governor-General during the annual press gallery dinner.

“It was very familiar, it was very much tongue-in-cheek and that's the nature of that particular speech even as a private citizen,” Mr. Powers said.

But at least part of Mr. Harper's speech appears quite sincere. He was invited to speak on the subject of the Canadian political scene.

“Your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world,” he said in his introduction.

He goes on to describe Canada as “a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term.”

He adds: “Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States.”

However, he tells his audience not to worry about the country's 1.5 million unemployed.

“They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.”

In the speech, Mr. Harper goes on to dismiss bilingualism, among other things:

“The important point is that Canada is not a bilingual country. It is a country with two languages. And there is a big difference.”

Among his observations in the speech and a subsequent question-and-answer period:

—“Forgive me jesting again, but the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.”

— The Liberal party has “put sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act and will let the courts do the rest.”

—“The leadership of the Conservative Party was running the largest deficits in Canadian history. They were in favour of gay rights officially, officially for abortion on demand.”

—“Canada is ... a troubled country politically, not socially. This is a country that we like to say works in practice but not in theory.”

—“Canada, in spite of its ongoing social democratic, welfare-state mentality, will continue to move to the right on fiscal, economic and social policy.”

New Democrat spokesman Jamey Heath, who limited his comments to Mr. Harper's 1997 remarks on the NDP, said he believes the speech is relevant in the context of the current campaign, but that there are more important issues to discuss.

“I think Canadians have figured out where Stephen Harper stands on issues and I'll let Stephen Harper speak on where he stands today,” Heath said.

“I think there are more important things to talk about in the election campaign than an eight-year-old speech from somebody who's failed to deliver a thing in this Parliament

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But when Harper keeps his actual positions so close to his vest, or obviously waters them down to appear more electable, this gives voters a chance to see what he really stands for. If CPCers are going to discount it as an "8-year-old speech--that means nothing," I'd like to seem them identify the positions he discusses that they don't agree with.

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Funny thing, Liberal supporters want everyone to think that what Martin did in the 90s doesn't matter, but of course anything Harper said in the last 20 years is liable to being dragged up and worried about. What Martin has done is much more scary than the mere words of Harper.

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But when Harper keeps his actual positions so close to his vest, or obviously waters them down to appear more electable, this gives voters a chance to see what he really stands for. If CPCers are going to discount it as an "8-year-old speech--that means nothing," I'd like to seem them identify the positions he discusses that they don't agree with.

I don't think he was working for the CPC at the time, was he?

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You can't get past the date?

The point is that this is NOT the policy of the Conservative Party of Canada and has nothing whatsoever to do with their current ideas or platform. That's why ONE person doesn't hold all the power in a party (see Martin making a run at Chretien). Something people seem to forget with the arrogance of the Liberal Party leaders over the last 12 years.

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But when Harper keeps his actual positions so close to his vest, or obviously waters them down to appear more electable
Why is this bad? It could mean that he has learned to appreciate the virtues of the Canadian system in the last few years. It could also mean that, as a politician, he realizes that the wishes of the voter trump the wishes of the politician everytime. Harper's recent statement on abortion in his Washington Post letter was pretty unequivocal: he would stick with the status quo no matter what his personal position.

Lastly, we are not electing a dictator (even if the PMO likes to make use believe otherwise) we are electing a party who Harper happens lead. If Harper wins his caucus will include a significant number of moderate Ontario MPs who do not share those extreme views. In other words, his personal views express in a private speech 5 years ago is not relevant in this election.

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Glad to finally see Harpers true personal views. Not that I agree with them but atleast they are out there. Let him answer to this old speech. The way he handles all these comments will decide for a lot of people if they will vote for him or not.

Eight years is a long time, and yet at Harpers age how much do your beliefs really change.

This is exactly the kind of crap that fuels the "hidden agenda" rumors.

I feel sorry for him to get bit in the butt by something so stupid, but he did it.

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Well that sinks him... he is un-electable.

:lol: ... I like these two quotes:

—“Forgive me jesting again, but the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.”

.... and

—“Canada is ... a troubled country politically, not socially. This is a country that we like to say works in practice but not in theory.”

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What parts aren't the policy? All of them? How do they differ?

http://www.conservative.ca/

feel free to look it up yourself...if your'e not at least going to educate yourself about the parties before the election, do the rest of the country a favour and abstain from voting.

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I think he would be more electable if he were willing to just show his cards more. People wouldn't have to just trust him by his soft, warm eyes. It's not like this speech makes him seem like a wingnut or anything. For some reason, CPCers knee-jerk reactions whenever something shows how he thinks is "That's not what we think."

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But it's nice to be able to get an idea of where your future PM is coming from before he's elected. His ideology may not be the direction Canada will absolutely follow under his leadership, but you can't say it's irrelevant.
You have to remember that it was a different time: a democrat was in the whitehouse, the economy was hot, US technological leadership in the world was unquestioned, 9/11 was just a day in September, and the US gov't was heading towards a surplus. Canada, with a currency heading towards 50 cents, was looking like an also ran.

The world is a different place now and people's opinions do change over time - I know my own opinions on a lot of issues have changed in last 8 years. I would be appalled if someone tried to tell me that I still believed things that I said in 1997.

For that reason, opinions expressed in a speach 8 years ago are not relevant because they probably do not represent Harper's opinions today.

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What parts aren't the policy? All of them? How do they differ?

http://www.conservative.ca/

feel free to look it up yourself...if your'e not at least going to educate yourself about the parties before the election, do the rest of the country a favour and abstain from voting.

I've read the CPC policy and I've read the speech and, again, I don't really see a lot of differences. They certainly don't conflict with each other

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To clarify, I think CPCers are overly defensive. Anything that isn't taken verbatum from conservative.ca is dismissed as "out-of-date" and "scare tactics." They don't seem to realize that this defensiveness and reluctance to stand by their stated positions is what makes them seem like they have a "hidden agenda."

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Mr. Harper's speech went unreported at the time and sat unnoticed on the council's website — with Mr. Harper's first name misspelled as Steven — until an opponent of his social policies began shopping it to reporters on Wednesday.

I hope the name wasn't misspelled, and that that was "Steven" Harper's speech.

I hope they catch the guy that changed it to "Stephen".

And I hope that the Toronto Star rag is in big trouble too.

Hope is all we have.

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Well think about it, he's talking to a bunch of Republican Americans, he tells them about gays and abortion, but he didn't state that he had an opinion on them, infering something from this speech is imagination.

Clearly he has thought a lot about the problems in this country and between then and now seems to have come up with a plan for the future, thats more than I can say for the Liberals. Martin's just running around wrapping himself in the flag and saying stupid things about America.

Who's the leader and who's the slave to the polls?

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