Former prime minister Stephen Harper says he wants closer ties between right-leaning political parties including the Conservative Party of Canada and the Hungarian government, who has been accused of democratic backsliding.
Harper chairs the International Democrat Union, a global alliance of right-leaning political parties that includes Canada’s Conservatives as well as the Fidesz Party led by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
The two met Thursday in Budapest, and Harper said on Twitter that they discussed “the importance of centre-right parties strengthening their collaboration.”
Human Rights Watch says Orbán’s government has delivered sustained “attacks on rule of law and public institutions” such as undermining judicial independence and surveilling journalists.
The European Court of Justice repeatedly ruled that Orbán is violating EU migration laws with policies hostile to asylum claimants, whom he has referred to at various points as “a poison” and “Muslim invaders.”
The Canadian Press has asked the Conservative Party of Canada and the office of current leader Pierre Poilievre whether Ottawa ought to have stronger ties with Orbán’s government.
Harper also tweeted that he discussed “the IDU’s strong support for Ukraine” which comes after Orbán has opposed multiple moves by the European Union to punish Russia for its invasion.
Orbán has called on Ukraine to concede to Russia, saying Kyiv cannot win against Moscow. He recently said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s handling of a mutiny last month shows his strength as a leader.
Harper faced criticism from international-relations experts and the Liberal government in 2018 when he congratulated Orbán for his re-election.
This spring in Washington, a bipartisan group in the United States Congress started working on a bill to implement U.S. sanctions on those close to Orbán accused of corruption, on top of existing sanctions in place since 2014.