Wednesday, December 23, 2009

For All Brian Mulroney's Faults, He Cared About Canada and Our Place in the World

In a spoof letter today (at least I believe it's a spoof letter, though everything in it is true), Martin Regg Cohn shows the difference between the PC Party and the Reform-Conservatives.

For all of Brian Mulroney's faults, he cared deeply about Canada and our place in the world. (I liked him and actually voted for him ... twice ... shut up!)

Stephen Harper, on the other hand, cares very little about Canada and not a bit about our place in the world.

Our disgrace in Copenhagen would never have been allowed by any other prime minister or party leader, ever.

Yet to hear him talk, Harper has made great progress on the environment. He even told Canwest Global that he regretted that more ambitious targets had not been set. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Quite the funny man.

Mulroney's advice to PM: I cared!
By Martin Regg Cohn Deputy Editorial Page Editor
December 22, 2009

Dear Prime Minister:

So you think you can dance? Around climate change?

You're clearly chuffed about flying to Copenhagen while staying under the radar – undetected and uncommitted. But if you ask me (and I know you don't bother anymore) you shouldn't be so pleased with yourself.

Even my son Ben and his MuchMusic fans and Canadian Idol groupies expect better of you. That's why I'm sending this note via the back-channel.

I know you think internationalism is never a vote winner – unless you find a wedge issue like Israel that plays in swing ridings.

And I suppose you're determined to do things differently than all those Liberal phonies – Chrétien and Kyoto, Trudeau and his travels to Cuba and China, Pearson and his Nobel Peace Prize.

But Copenhagen was a new low for Canada. Not because of what you did or (mostly) didn't do. Or didn't say. Or didn't stand for.

No, what really p----d me off – sorry, peeved me (okay, I'm working on cleaning up my language) – is the way you've turned your back on Canada's history of international engagement: Honest broker, middle power, peacekeeper or responsible ally – take your pick, but at least take a stand. Turn your back on the world and the world will pass us by.

That's what we saw in Copenhagen on Friday when Canada found itself the forgotten nation.

There was Barack Obama charging in to save the day. And there you were, hiding under his skirt, mumbling feebly that you would do exactly what the Americans did on greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadians understand the pressures of harmonization, although I took a lot of heat for it in my day. But we were always players – and the Americans were at least interested in what we had to say.

Where were you in Copenhagen when Obama summoned 19 other world leaders for a pivotal meeting to thrash out the framework for a deal? It's one thing to miss the "family photo" at a G8 summit because you're in the bathroom. But to not even rate an invitation to a consultation – while Australia is seated at the table wearing the mantle of middle power?

Nothing against those Aussies, but they are a smaller economy and population.

So why was their PM, Kevin Rudd, being asked for his advice by Obama while you were cooling your heels? And you're supposed to be the host of next year's G8 and G20 meetings here!

Listen, your staff is too timid to tell you this, and Jim Prentice is too cowed by Alberta ranchers and the oil patch to speak truth to power, so I will: You're not doing the right thing on the environment. And you're not doing anything on the global stage.

It wasn't just Liberals who gave a fig for foreign policy. I cared about Canada and the world. I lobbied for sanctions against South Africa and stood up to Margaret Thatcher. I reached out to China without selling out on human rights. And I forged a partnership with Ronald Reagan on acid rain.

When George H.W. Bush stitched together a coalition to evict Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait, he was on the phone to me constantly seeking advice. When Europe was worrying about German reunification and how the Soviets would react, Bush called me for consultations. And we fished together at Kennebunkport.

Okay, I admit it – I loved getting a phone call from the White House switchboard. And it bugs me that you never place a call.

But now, you don't even rate a phone call from Obama when he's giving our allies the heads up on his new Afghanistan surge. You got Joe Biden calling to say that his boss was too busy calling up everyone else that matters.

My point is that the Liberals aren't the only good guys on foreign policy.

Progressive Conservatives were internationalists – not just me, but Diefenbaker too when he sold wheat to China and spoke out passionately against apartheid when you were just a baby.

Listen, you've been PM four years now. Remind me, what's your legacy going to be? Cutting the GST by two points? It's not just what voters say, but the verdict of historians that you will have to live with.

Who do you think was chosen Canada's most environmentally conscious PM a couple of years ago? That's because I was ahead of my time, which is not exactly something you can boast about.

Which recent Tory PM won two consecutive majorities? Exactly.

You can do better. Try a little harder on global warming – and statecraft. You never know when voters will start holding you to account on the environment, or start wondering why you can't be a bit more worldly.

Yours in alacrity,
Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney

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