07.20.2013 06:43 PM

In Sunday’s Sun: it’s a lot of fun until someone breaks a law

The revelation that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has maintained an enemies list isn’t much of a revelation, is it? I mean, if there has ever been a Canadian administration that is positively Nixonian in its style and approach, it is Stephen Harper’s.

Now, that’s not to suggest the PMO has engaged in cover-ups, payoffs and dirty deals, like the disgraced former U.S. president did. Nor should it be taken to mean that the elite crew surrounding the Conservative prime minister has turned a collective blind eye to fraud, theft and breach of trust, as Nixon did.

Oh, wait.

The ongoing Senate scandal. Right. Never mind.

Anyway, the Harper PMO kids — showing up to work every morning buffed and scrubbed, and looking very much like the bad guys in the Matrix movie series, but without the interpersonal charm — are more and more like the Nixon cabal with each passing day.

Just consider the latest count in the indictment: News Harper et al. maintain an enemies list, like Nixon did.

The existence of Harper’s enemies list was revealed last week when an e-mail sent from the PMO to ministerial aides ended up in the wrong inbox. The e-mail cheerfully requested that lists of enemy bureaucrats, as well as lists of “enemy stakeholders,” be developed for incoming ministers and their staffs.

Nixon, as historians will note, did the same thing. His list was concocted by his White House counsel, a subsequently convicted criminal named Chuck Colson.

It was variously referred to as the “Opponents List” or the “Political Enemies List,” and it contained the names of journalists and politicians who Nixon and his orcs disliked — including actor Paul Newman, whose career did not seem to be impeded by the designation.

Enemies lists, as the Harper gang are (hopefully) about to discover, are lots of fun to put together, but not so much fun to defend in the public realm. That’s because, at some point, an enemies list has an actual purpose.

It is supposed to be used. And that’s where it becomes slightly less comedic and arguably illegal.

The Nixon list certainly was. In that case, the enemies list was used to “screw” — the word used by John Dean, another White House lawyer — the president’s enemies with IRS audits, denial of federal contracts, litigation and even prosecution.

And that, of course, is when an innocuous enemies list stops being funny and becomes much more ominous.

It is a crime to use the power of the state to initiate tax audits of one’s political enemies. It is a crime to commence an administrative or legal process with the purpose of “screwing” someone the Conservative Party hates. It is a crime to prosecute a political adversary because they possess different views and priorities.

The Harper PMO, when they finally get around to concocting talking points about their enemies list, will say that (a) it was the fault of a misguided young staffer, (b) it was never acted upon, (c) the Liberals did the same thing, and (d) the sponsorship scandal. Rinse and repeat, etc.

But no one should be fooled: The Harper PMO drew up an enemies list, and they did so because they expected it to be acted upon by ministers and staffers who possess real power. If even one of them has done so — even once — they have committed a crime.

The Nixon-Harper comparisons being made by the opposition and some of us in the media are, at one level, kind of amusing. But when we pause to reflect on this latest controversy — and we should — it all becomes a lot less comical.

If you’ve ever written a letter to the editor criticizing Stephen Harper — if you’ve ever stood for office against one of his allies, or if you have participated in a grassroots campaign against one of his policies — you deserve to know if you are on that list.

And you deserve to know what, if anything, was done to you by Stephen Harper’s Nixonian PMO.


  1. Brian Jedan says:

    So, I ran against Julian Fantino in the Vaughan byelection and subsequently the Liberal candidate–three time loser Tony Genco—ran as a conservative in his next attempt to land a seat. So, because I attacked Genco and because Fantino is a thick headed, spotliht loving boob, even little people like me might be considered enemies of the state. (I did start my own political party, so I suppose that would make me a subversive in the eyes of Harpo… Hmmm? Interesting premise Warren. Mehinks you should follow the lead of author PJ O’rourke and satirically release a version of Harper’s Enemies List just as he did with his book of the same name. http://www.amazon.com/American-Spectators-Enemies-List-Journalists/dp/B005M4ZEVO

  2. Bill Stevens says:

    Scarily, Harper is actually more deranged than Nixon – and more cunning. Nixon, was merely a power addict in the same way a coke addict is – the criminality is consistent with the vice. Harper actually believes he is some kind of elite force sent to earth to implement divine prerogatives – he is a true fanatic.

    In reality, Harper is merely a tool of global elites who want to liquidate the Canadian Nation and usher in an orgy of asset stripping – the party is actually well under way on that front.

    I suppose in this regard he is like Nixon and Kissinger who were quite happy to partner with history’s greatest mass murderer, Chairman Mao. But then again, so was PET. In a way, James Angleton was correct – Communist thinking has infected the powers-that-be in North America. Orwell certainly was right – the pigs have entered into partnership with the owner of the farm.

    These Nabobs, I do hate them…

    • Martha says:

      I hate ‘haters’….. they’re just a bunch of stupid anarchists with no solution to their personally perceived problems with global society. They always beef but provide no ‘beef’. Their heads are echo chambers, always bitching about something but never having the courage to provide a solution. They are a waste of skin and binary digits.

  3. Brad says:

    After all the emails I have sent to my utterly useless MP, Stella Ambler, I may very well be on the list.

  4. deb s says:

    so now that we know it exists, and once we find out what and who are on it, will the RCMP be investigating to see if the Harper kids were screwing with those on the list.
    My guess is no one will be charged and that Harper will once again slip thru the net of his own making:P

    Wasnt there just a brave newspaper who came out and already announced that the Harper kids were breaking some laws by messing with media articles and looking to expose and crucify their greatest enemy, Justin Trudeau.
    I dont know if I would call these staffers kids, these folks are adults or is that the defence they will take, that they didnt know they were breaking laws, as they are only 20:P Or better yet…my fave defense…and I hope they use this one…Harper demanded they do it:P
    but yeah….it wont happen….this govt is above the law!

  5. Sean says:

    I have heard from people who truly believe they are being audited because they had Liberal or NDP signs on their lawns. Apparently its all the folks on the same street and they all know exactly who had what signs and who is being audited.

  6. Cynical says:

    I would consider it an honour to be on that list, if only…

    Harper is not like Nixon. He lacks Nixon’s personal charm.

  7. po'd says:

    Even Nixon wasn’t neo con enough for the hard core neo cons, and one of his inner circle feeling so thoroughly disjointed, branched off on his own to create a real Conservative movement by establishing a voice in Washington for down trodden Corporate interests. Thus the birth of the modern cancerous reality, the army of Corporate lobbyists.

    A legacy far more significant than Harper’s enemies list that remains with us to this day, and like a cancer, continues to grow.

  8. MCBellecourt says:

    No. 3: “Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.” (from the 14 characteristics of fascism).

    Yes, I’m using the f-word here, but as time goes on, one of those characteristics keeps popping up.

    Welcome to Harperland. Sieg Hurl.

    • davidray says:

      MC… I looked up the other 13 characteristics of fascism and sweet baby Jesus that is one scary list. I posted the rest on my little blog if you want to check it out. All it would take is serious hardship economically and winning another election to see this happening in Kanada Harper Style.


  9. DJ says:

    So is Trudeau still going to go all positive all the time? Do he and his people realize who they’ll be up against? I hope they’re reconsidering and will go for the jugular next election. There is a narrative being written about what kind of government Harper is running, and Trudeau needs to pay attention! The Liberals could be running ads questioning how Harper could not have known about the Duffy/Wright payoff deal. Why aren’t they trying to make this scandal stick to Harper? I don’t understand why they’re so passive — even lazy?

    • Martha says:

      Just understand that most of the current ‘scandals’ are mere blips and will be forgotten by 2015 when a new set of ‘scandals’ emerge. Why waste money now to push something with dubious results and being labeled ‘the bearer of bad news’. What should be of higher priority within Liberal ranks is the leadership development of Justin Trudeau so that it culminates and emerges just in time for the 2015 election campaign.

  10. doris says:

    It’s about time the scandal of the CIMS database is exposed and made illegal in the light of the fact that none of us asked to be placed in the databases let alone have comments about us attached to the database. I have asked the master of the database (Fred D) for the information about me to be revealed to me and they will not even acknowledge that the information exists.

    All of the databases that exist and are owned by political parties should be accessible just lie credit records and until the government applies Privacy laws to them this abuse of privacy will continue unabated, it’s disgusting – stop it.

    • I dunno if you have a legal argument, but since the judge ruled in Robocalls case that the robocall data came from CIMS, and the CPC argues that they did not make the calls, the implication is that someone stole the data, and used it illegally. Which raises an interesting point. Political data is not protected under the privacy act, but what about when somebody steals that data? Does the privacy act cover illegal use of the political database? Can an ordinary citizen bring suit against the CPC for compromising private and personal information? Stealing data is a crime, should not the RCMP be investigating the theft of private data about millions of Canadians?

  11. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    This is a litmus test moment for the incumbent prime minister whatever his or her political stripe. Harper is our PM. His job is to protect our democracy and the revered nature of his political office. In fairness, he must be allowed to inquire and potentially take action.

    Surely, the PM realizes this is the most important moment of his governance. His political fate rests in his own hands. I don’t envy the man if he does not decide wisely. It potentially won’t be pretty for the government if he fails to take corrective action.

  12. liam says:

    Enemy of Harper, Ally to Canada

  13. Martha says:

    Yes, I agree, but are you not concerned over the level of blind hatred and the juvenile spewing of venom being posted on discussion forums? Surely that cannot be healthy for Canada and democracy! What will all these hate-filled people do if in 2015 the Conservatives are re-elected with an even bigger majority, what will all these angry people do to sate their hate?

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      99% of Canadians are true democrats who understand that when a government is duly elected, they have won a mandate to govern — that applies equally to the CPC, LPC or NDP.

      Strange thing, that even happened in 2000 when the United States Supreme Court ruled to stop the Florida recount thereby ensuring Bush’s win in the Electoral College.

    • smelter rat says:

      Martha is the new Gord.

  14. Hugh Whalen says:

    I received a brown envelope in the mail with the official enemies list. However, I believe it’s a fake because it did not have Peter Van Loan, Pierre Poilevre or Mike Duffy’s name on it.

  15. Arnold Murphy says:

    Warren, if I am not on the list, its only because I have made them think I was far when I was near.

    lol 😉

  16. Tiger says:

    Calling one’s political adversaries “enemies” is unfortunate language that can, of course, lead to moral slippage later on. It’s poor discipline on staffers’ part, and the PM ought not to encourage such behaviour.


    Having seen all of this righteous indignation on display, I eagerly await Canadian progressives’ views on President Obama, who actually sent the IRS after his domestic political adversaries. (Unless you do believe that those weekly White House visits by the IRS commissioner truly were just social calls. Purely coincidental. Of course.) 🙂

    • smelter rat says:

      Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Obama did no such thing. Of course Con trolls like you always try to change the channel.

  17. Cameron Prymak says:

    So your response is a variation of (c) then?

    “The Harper PMO, when they finally get around to concocting talking points about their enemies list, will say that (a) it was the fault of a misguided young staffer, (b) it was never acted upon, (c) the Liberals did the same thing, and (d) the sponsorship scandal. Rinse and repeat, etc”

  18. Cameron Prymak says:

    Nixon, Clinton, Weiner, Spitzer, Sanford all had/have the same PR issue when their misdealings were exposed.

    To some extent they all delayed their return to favour with voters because their initial response was immediate and vociferous denial when voters suspected something more. History has shown voters are able to accept these people again only after obsfucation and delay tactics cease and some amount of genuine contrition and remorse are expressed.

    Now I don’t see that here in any way yet.

  19. patrick says:

    Paranoia will destroy ya……..

  20. Iris Mclean says:

    I’m sure I’m on the enemy list. Gord Brown hate’s my guts, as do Bob Runciman and Steve Clark. Still waiting to be audited, but not worrying about it. Out of curiosity, I attended a few International Socialist meetings in Kingston back in the nineties, so I’m pretty sure CSIS or the RCMP has a file on me too.

  21. Windsurfer says:

    We’re cooked.

    The Harper Consortium is already concocting a way to steal the next election.

    The Canadian public will yawn their way through the whole thing with a turn-out rate of 48.3%.

    I’m signing off till the next time I post.

    D. Featist

  22. Elizabeth says:

    I keep getting suspended on Twitter – had to change my name-spelling finally, and password. Pretty sure I’m on a list. It started when I engaged in discussions over the Trudeau charity-fiasco, and then it just kept up. Lying low now. 😀

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