‘Made up’ Richard Nixon prize presented in absentia to Stephen Harper

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

There's a significant conflict going on in Canada. It's a subtle one but it exists and it seems to be escalating.

It's a battle between Stephen Harper and the unions.

The latest 'attack' came on Thursday when several anti-Conservative groups led by the The Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Public Service Alliance of Canada presented Harper with the first ever Richard Nixon prize.

[ Related: Stephen Harper chooses to speak at New York award ceremony but not the UN ]

"The selection committee applauds the Prime Minister's principled, forthright and steadfast international policies in the interests of the rich and powerful" noted the groups' press release.

"Because the Prime Minister will be in New York to receive another award, this one will be presented using the "empty chair" technique recently used by Clint Eastwood."

The Nixon award was presented, in absentia, to Harper by left-leaning author and activist Yves Engler. In his blog, Engler wrote that Harper was a very deserving recipient.

"The decision to grant Harper the Richard Nixon Prize was made after a thorough review of his foreign policy.

The grantees cited Harper's "consistent backing of the interests of North America's top 1 per cent of income earners, with a special emphasis on supporting those who make their billions from resource extraction, weaponry and banking."

The committee applauded Harper for bombing Libya into democracy. It took special note that this was probably also good for certain oil and gas interests.

In the best tradition of Richard Nixon who could always keep a straight face, the committee praised Harper for at the same time "standing by Egypt's Hosni Mubarak until the final hours of his 30-year presidency."

Not coincidentally, the Nixon award comes on the same day Harper is to receive the World Statesman of the Year award given to him by the prestigious Appeal of Conscience Foundation in New York.

Right-leaning political analyst Gerry Nicholls says the Nixon prize and its timing was predictable.

"A 'made up award' won't take away a bit from an actual real award," he told Yahoo! Canada News in an email.

"This is just a cheap ploy by the union to grab a few headlines."

It's actually just the latest in a series of cheap union ploys in response to the Harper government's recent flurry of back-to-work bills and a plan to cut 29,600 public sector union jobs between now and 2015.

In May, PSAC added a 26 cent a month 'tax' to members' union dues to boost the union's war chest for political action campaigns.

In June they handed out "Stephen Harper hates me" buttons for their members to wear at work.

[ Related: Would you trade Stephen Harper for Barack Obama? ]

And, earlier this month — on at least two separate occasions — PSAC flew an anti-Harper banner over Ottawa which read "Stephen Harper nous déteste.ca" ("Stephen Harper hates us.ca")

I can hardly wait to see what's next.