Former Canadian PM Stephen Harper addresses AICC

November 21, 2018 by David Marlow
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Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke at the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Stephen Harper and Solomon Lew

The audience included a strong representation across Victorian business, including leading Jewish business people, including Marc Besen, Solomon Lew and Jack Smorgon.

The 22nd Prime Minister of Canada was introduced by billionaire businessman and retailing guru Solomon Lew.  Mr Lew highlighted that the conservative leader and well-respected economist was a strong supporter of Israel, culminating in addressing the Knesset in Jerusalem in 2014.
Mr Harper spoke in a discussion format with Tom Switzer, Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Studies.  They touched on a variety of hot topics, including the rise of Donald Trump, social and political dissatisfaction and upheaval around the world, international trade, immigration, the Middle East and terrorism & security issues.
Mr Harper was highly critical of President Putin, as he was during his Prime Ministership, explaining some of Mr Putin’s aggressive decisions arose from seeking revenge against those he blamed for the fall of the Soviet Union and its aftermath in Russia.  He also called out Jeremy Corben’s antisemitism in the UK.
He stated that the moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem could help bring the Palestinian leadership to the negotiation table.  Mr Harper felt that too many Palestinians wanted the elimination of Israel rather than a two-state solution.  He said that unless they accepted Israel’s existence into the future, they were unlikely to enter peace negotiations with Israel.  He said because of this, there was no peace process at the moment.
Mr Harper said that the threat of Jihadist terror was real, as demonstrated by the recent Bourke Street attack, but that this should not be conflated with ordinary moderate Muslims. But he was critical of the trend after Islamist terror attacks to immediately shift the discussion to Islamophobia.
He seemed to avoid criticism of President Trump and described his rise as part of a trend around the world for dissatisfied populations to create upheaval, especially where the wealthy became richer and the living standards for lower income earners declined.  He said that Australia and Canada have seemingly avoided this problem, with less inequality and stronger economic performance.
Mr Harper stated that immigration should be economically focused, while illegal and unplanned immigration created discontent and could help lead to a rise in populism.  He said that as part of an economic plan, high immigration was not necessarily a problem, though infrastructure and economic capacity needed to be considered.
Mr Harper also spoke about his new book “Right Here, Right Now: Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption.”  The book aims to help business and political leaders cope with this era of unprecedented social, political and technological change.


One Response to “Former Canadian PM Stephen Harper addresses AICC”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    Harper was not a good PM.

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