A Canadian friend placed a copy of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new book, “Right Here Right Now,” in my hands for Christmas. Harper writes a lot about what’s happening in the United States these days, acknowledging its impact on his home country.
The urgency reflected in the book’s title can be summarized as “economic displacement will lead to widespread political disruption.”
He says Donald Trump and, to an obviously lesser extent, Bernie Sanders had political success because they understand that the American middle class is not doing well, that when the economic crisis hit in 2008 there “was unremitting capitalism for the working class and socialist protection for the Wall Street financiers who caused the meltdown in the first place,” that middle class workers are particularly vulnerable when change is fast and unpredictable.
Harper has harsh words for Vladimir Putin, saying he practices “kleptocratic capitalism…a blurring of private business, political office, and organized crime.”
He has a distaste for trade tariffs, saying they hurt consumers, and that the Chinese happily give big Western corporations access to their markets because they can count on the Fortune 100 firms using their political clout to make things happen in their national capitals.
Harper believes U.S. and Canadian immigration policy should be more economically driven by our self-interest. He notes that in 2015, only about 14 percent of the one million legal permanent residents admitted to the U.S. came in through a job-based preference.
He also predicts as time goes on, foreign policy decisions around the world will be based less on American leadership and more on national self-interest.
He urges conservatives like himself not to be ideologically rigid, that they should be more concerned with people than theories. And he cautions that even the most stable, advanced democracies are at risk.
A worrisome view from Parliament Hill.