Stephen Harper is a man of principle. Six years after starting his career as a former prime minister and international globetrotter consultant, he would not be taken to death representing regimes known for their dire human rights records, such as Russia and Iran.
As Joe Oliver, perhaps Canada’s most forgettable finance minister, said of his former boss, “He’s not going to sell his soul for a dish of soup.
So if Oliver’s former boss isn’t around for a soup dish, how about a little more, maybe two soup dishes?
How else to explain Harper’s two-week tour of the Persian Gulf, visiting human rights strongholds such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates?
In a Twitter statement on October 15, the former Tory prime minister was excited at the start of his visit to four countries that he was “proud” of his relationship with Saudi Arabia and the $ 15 billion contract. that his government signed on to made-in Armored Personnel Carriers of Canada, an utterly nasty deal that Justin Trudeau promised to quash before changing his mind.
Harper said he was allied with the Saudis in their opposition to “the threat posed to the region, and the region as a whole, by the Iranian regime”, making it clear that he is taking sides in the vicious Saudi-Iran dispute. .
Not a word on the brutal murder in 2018 of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, nor on the recent allegations made by a former Saudi intelligence official that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent a squad to assassinate him in Canada in 2018.
No mention of Saudi Arabia’s role in the bloody civil war in Yemen, nor of its catastrophic human rights record. As Human Rights Watch noted, “Saudi authorities in 2020 continued to crack down on dissidents, human rights activists, and independent critics.
Harper is also delighted to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which he said he has visited “several times in recent years”, congratulating him on the normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel.
The UAE is of particular interest to Harper because of his involvement in a Toronto-based company, AWZ Ventures, which supports Israel-based surveillance systems, including facial recognition and crowd detection. Harper heads the AWZ Ventures Advisory Board.
AWZ has established a subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates, where it is trying to sell the surveillance technologies of its subsidiaries. It all comes as the UAE has been accused of using Israel-invented Pegasus software designed to hack and secretly take control of cell phones.
You must feel for Stephen Harper. He was just 56 when he was beaten in 2015, with many productive years ahead of him. But it turns out that it’s hard to monetize your years as Canadian Prime Minister.
In the United States, former presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama became rich men after their years in the White House. The International Business Times estimates Obama’s net worth at $ 70 million. The first volume of his presidential memoirs, A promised land, sold 3.3 million copies in its first month of sales last year.
Never heard of it Here, Now: Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption? These are Harper’s memoirs, published in 2018. You can get a used hardcover on Amazon for as low as $ 9.29.
Clinton and his wife Hillary also enriched themselves through his books and speeches. According to the Washington Post, Bill was paid $ 104.9 million for 542 speeches from the time he left office in January 2001 until January 2013, or between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000 for each speech. Harper gets a fraction of that for a speech.
With lucrative book deals and premium speaking engagements, Canada’s ex-executives need to grab more. A few directorships and a few shillings for Canadian companies, that’s the model. Brian Mulroney, building on his past corporate ties, has been the most successful in this regard, with lucrative directorships with Barrick Gold, Quebecor, Archer Daniels Midland and the Blackstone Group.
Harper has had a more difficult time. He can’t even get an honorary degree in Canada, his only honor coming from Tel Aviv University in Israel, where former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him a “great friend.” His only director position with a large public company is that of Colliers International, the Toronto-based property management and investment firm.
What is fascinating is how similar Harper’s path was to that of one of his predecessors, Jean Chrétien. Both are now associated with Dentons, the large international law firm, and both seem to have a predilection for representing Canadian junior oil companies in vague international venues.
Chrétien once represented a Calgary company called Buried Hill Energy, which was awarded an oil concession by the government of Turkmenistan after Chrétien came for a visit to the Turkmen capital. The concession was in the disputed waters of the Caspian Sea, also claimed by the Azerbaijani government. A brief diplomatic tiff ensued.
Chrétien also went to work for a company called Madagascar Oil, which had an oil prospect in the Indian Ocean nation of the same name. When Chrétien’s name appeared years later in the Paradise Papers as the owner of options for 100,000 shares of the company, which was incorporated in Bermuda, Chrétien pleaded ignorance, saying it was not to him to do due diligence on the companies he represents.
“Look, when someone comes to you, you don’t do an analysis of their business structure,” he said. “They come to ask for your professional opinion.
Harper has also been a consultant for a junior Calgary oil company, Questerre Energy, which currently trades at 18 cents a share, and has assisted it with its oil and gas prospects in Jordan and Quebec. Harper’s role does not appear to have been of much help, at least in Quebec, where Prime Minister François Legault recently announced his intention to ban hydrocarbon production in the province.
Harper is also a member of the advisory board of Terrestrial Energy, an Oakville, Ont., Company that develops nuclear molten salt technology.
None of this will make Stephen Harper a rich man, so when there is travel available to the Gulf States, why not? In any case, this unfortunate Khashoggi affair took place three years ago, and who will remember it?
MORE FREEMAN: In his book, Michael Wernick says little while revealing a lot
The views, opinions and positions expressed by all columnists and contributors to iPolitics are the sole responsibility of the author. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and / or positions of iPolitics.