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Is Harper ditching his allies?

Canadian right-wingers reported themselves shocked after a Thursday-night speech by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in which he evidently told his libertarian allies to shut up or get out of his way.

Writing in The Shotgun, a prominent conservative blog, Mike Brock seemed stunned by Harper's comments:

Over the next twenty minutes or so, we would be treated to one of the most bewildering speeches I’ve ever heard Stephen Harper give. After launching into a sweeping defence of conservatism he would direct his attention towards classical liberals and libertarians who he acknowledged, some of whom were in the very room he was speaking.

The treatment to classical liberals and libertarians--of which I consider myself--was nothing short of stunning. The condescension was literally dripping from his mouth. Was this his response to the disillusionment that libertarians across the country have had to his government and its policies of late? If it was, it did not build any bridges. Rather, it burnt them right down.

Harper made clear that the free market was not a solution to this problem, pointing to Wall Street and comparing libertarian positions on deregulation as analogous to the position of Wall Street bankers, who abused a deregulated market, then turned around and asked the government for help, taking no personal responsibility for their actions.

...The speech also contained a definition of what conservatism is. In his words it is made up of the “three Fs: freedom, family and faith”--a definition which might leave some libertarians feeling even more uncomfortable with its social conservative undertones.

In another Shotgun post, Kalim Kassam quoted at length from a National Post report on Harper's speech, noting that "Harper left no doubt about his belief in the necessity of government intervention in the economy."

And a third Shotgunner, Janet Neilson, found Harper's statement "insulting to libertarians..."

The speech that triggered all this libertarian alarm was reported Thursday in the National Post. Another report on it is available at the Globe and Mail.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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