On Sunday, when NDP MP Nikki Ashton tweeted that she was heading south to stump for Bernie Sanders, Conservative commentators were up in arms. Michael Harris writes:
But what (Conservative supporters wanted to know) was a Canadian MP doing knocking on doors with campaign workers stumping for a U.S. presidential candidate? Ashton told CBC that Sanders embodied the NDP’s own leftist politics. “I believe we can learn from the kind of work that they’re doing, the bold ideas they’re putting forward, the ways in which they’re engaging and inspiring people.”
Still, those on the blue end of the political spectrum fumed. The House of Commons was sitting and there was very important legislation hanging by a thread in the Senate, from the assisted dying bill to the RCMP union debate. So what was Ashton doing in Fargo?
For the most part, Ashton parried the blows skillfully. She explained that she paid for her own trip and that the House does not sit on Sundays — the day she was in Fargo. She was back in Ottawa on Monday in time for question period. She told the National Post that she found many similarities between North Dakota and her riding in Manitoba. Her father Steve Ashton went with her. (The former NDP MLA has time on his hands since losing the seat he has held since 1981 in the recent Manitoba provincial election that saw the Progressive Conservatives win a majority.)
There was no mention, of course, of Stephen Harper's recent visit to Las Vegas, where Republican money man Sheldon Adelson convened a conference on healing a divided political party:
Just how political was the event Harper attended in Las Vegas? You be the judge. Harper’s old advisor, American political guru Arthur Finkelstein — the guy who taught the National Citizens Coalition the art of the political attack ad — was in attendance. Trump himself was invited to speak at the RJC gathering where Harper spoke, although the GOP’s answer to Elmer Gantry declined to attend. Adelson has pledged $100 million to get Trump and other Republicans elected, and Trump in turn has renounced his earlier position of neutrality in the Israeli/Palestinian standoff. He now not only supports Israel’s illegal settlements, he favors their expansion.
Harper himself tweeted that he was in Las Vegas to support Israel — a handy way of denying he was there providing the campaigning Republican Party with political advice during a presidential election year. He wrote on April 10, 2016: “Thanks all for a great weekend in support of Israel.” Influential American Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach tweeted photos of Harper at the event, with the caption, “The Jewish community and @RJC honoring the great prime minister of Canada Stephen Harper – a great friend of Israel.”
There are three different stories to account for the former PM’s second trip to Las Vegas: Harper was advising a Republican fundraising group on how to unite their divided party, or he was there “exclusively “ to support Israel, or (if you don’t like either of those narratives) the RJC was honoring the former prime minister. Which was true? Perhaps all three. While in office, Harper behaved exactly like a northern Republican.
Harper didn't have to be paid a lot for his services. Besides his salary as an MP, he will do very well when he retires:
Harper collects his MP salary of $167,400 even though he has not participated in debate in the House of Commons since he lost power, and only shows up in Parliament to vote. Besides catching the odd matinee, or browsing in the business book section at Chapters, he has found time to join the Ranchmen’s Club of Calgary and the Calgary Petroleum Club, where he will rub shoulders with his favorite people — oil executives.
Harper has earned over four million dollars from taxpayers so far, has had free transportation and has stayed in some pretty nice public housing. If he lives to an average age, he will receive almost $10 million from taxpayers, according to the Huffington Post.
Apparently, political defeat has done nothing to dampen Conservative hypocrisy.