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Canadian foreign policy needs to be more independent: Harper Add to ...

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper injected some swagger in a speech to party faithful Friday night, vowing his majority government would walk a ruggedly independent line in foreign policy while working at home to erase NDP electoral gains in Quebec.

Speaking to more than 2,200 Conservatives at a Ottawa convention, the Tory chief said his party is proud of its commitment to take principled stands abroad.

He didn't mention Israel by name, but the Tories have shown extraordinary support for the Mid-East state even in the face of international pressure.

"We also have a purpose - and that purpose is no longer just to go along and get along with everyone else's agenda," Mr. Harper said in a keynote address.

"It is no longer to please every dictator with a vote at the United Nations."

Mr. Harper reveled in his party's majority victory - the first time a conservative party has had such power in more than 17 years.

He recalled the long journey that partisan faithful have followed since the Conservative Party was born in 2003 out of the merge of the right-wing Canadian Alliance and the Red Tory-dominated Progressive Conservative Party.

In a shot at the new Official Opposition, Mr. Harper warned Mr. Layton's party that its historic victory, including 59 seats in Quebec, would quickly erode.

"Friends, the honeymoon with the NDP will pass. As many of us know well, no honeymoon passes as quickly and completely as one with the NDP."

It's brave talk for the Tories who lost ground in Quebec, seeing their seat count fall to five from 11 in the May 2 election.

Mr. Harper approaches his majority from a position of tremendous strength. He's won three consecutive victories for the Conservatives and has achieved his long-sought goal of beggaring the Liberals, once considered the "Natural governing party" in Canada.

He made much of the successive tax cuts the Tories have enacted over the last half decade, saying this has resulted in the "lowest federal tax burden since John Diefenbaker was prime minister."

Mr. Harper reiterated his promise to enact all of the 2011 election, including a bevy of tough-on-crime bills and billions of dollars in new warship purchases.

But he spent significant time on his foreign policy record, saying Canada is not afraid to stand apart from the crowd in international opinion.

He scoffed at past Canadian government's efforts to appease "every dictator with a voice" at the United Nations.

"And I confess that I don't know why past attempts to do so were ever thought to be in Canada's national interest," Mr. Harper said.

Mr. Harper talked of a world where "power is shifting" and change is upsetting the old balance, saying in such an era it's of "vital necessity" to be strong.

"Moral ambiguity, moral equivalence are not options; they are dangerous illusions."

Follow on Twitter: @stevenchase

 

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