Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Channels Richard Nixon (and the NRA) with an “Enemies List”

by Joey deVilla on July 16, 2013

harper nixon thug life

From the big things, like trying to make Canada more petro-state-like and muzzling environmental scientists to tiny tyrannies like watching for “disloyalty” from federal librarians and archivists on their personal time, the fact that Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is a control freak isn’t news to anyone here. Based on his observed behaviour, it shouldn’t be surprising that his office uses the term “enemy” to describe those who don’t go along, but it still is — it just seems so un-Canadian.

The Globe and Mail reports:

The Harper government is facing questions about whether Conservative staffers were compiling enemies lists as part of transition plans for Monday’s cabinet shuffle.

A July 4 email obtained by Global News shows a Prime Minister’s Office official asking staff working for cabinet ministers across the government to draw up lists of pesky bureaucrats and “enemy stakeholders.”

These include: “Who to avoid: bureaucrats that can’t take no (or yes) for an answer” as well as “who to engage or avoid: friend and enemy stakeholders.”

It’s unusual in Canadian politics for political staffers to openly call those who disagree with them “enemies.”

Critics of the Harper government sometimes compare it unfavourably to the administration of former U.S. President Richard Nixon, citing the Tories’ penchant for secrecy and their distrust of outsiders.

Global News said Ms. Furtado later sent a follow-up email saying that the PMO “no longer required” a list of troublesome bureaucrats.

It quoted a source saying the PMO also verbally requested that ministerial staff develop a list of “enemy reporters,” but that this request was later withdrawn.

There’s a metric ton of training and literature on more constructive ways to define how to handle people who don’t or won’t agree with you. One classic example, made popular on my tech blog, Global Nerdy, is the U.S. Air Force’s “rules of engagement for blogging”, sent to me by Dave Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology at the Air Force’s Public Affairs Agency, and shown below:

The idea of unpleasant people or organizations having an “enemies” list isn’t anything new. Richard Nixon famously had one, and there’s a site that provides a searchable version for you hardcore history buffs. The NRA had a similar list online that didn’t use the (ahem) loaded term enemy. In light of how bad it made them look (and events such as Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s getting shot after appearing on Sarah Palin’s “target list”), they took it down in February. The version I’m linking to is a cached version from the Internet Archive.

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