Sunday, January 24, 2010

This Land is Our Land and We Are Letting It Go

I have posted on this so many times in the past, but cannot stress it enough. Canada is losing it's place in the world, and we are letting it happen. This is what happens when you don't mind your political store.

This beautiful land is our land, and this beautiful country is our country. We've been given such a tremendous gift but we're kicking it around and leaving it out in the rain.

We have got to vote and we have got to engage the apathetic and encourage them to vote. If Harper holds on to power much longer, we are going to be in serious trouble. It was interesting when on the weekend he referred to his party's four years in power as 'Tory rule'. I didn't know we were being 'ruled'. I thought we were being governed.

The world is watching Canada's reputation as a progressive middle power is gone.
January 11, 2010
by Maude Barlow

As Canadians enter a new year and a new decade, it is time to accept an unpleasant reality: Canada's international reputation as a progressive middle power is gone. Instead, our country is increasingly seen as a human rights denying eco-outlaw that has lost its way and its special status as a standard bearer for a better world. This change is largely the doing of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the ideology that has motivated him and his mentors for decades.

Let's start with the fact that while Canadians were resting over the holiday, Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament, thus canceling the committee hearings into his government's handling of the Afghan detainee scandal.

Under Stephen Harper, Canada has also abandoned its traditional support of human rights initiatives at the United Nations.

This move allowed the Prime Minister to duck serious allegations both about Canadian troops turning over innocent Afghan civilians for torture at the hands of Afghan authorities as well as his government's shameful treatment of Canadian intelligence officer Richard Colvin whose sworn testimony before a House of Commons committee in November blew the issue into an international story and embarrassed Harper on the eve of his important first trip to China.

There are growing calls in Canada and internationally for an investigation into whether Canada has violated the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by knowingly turning over civilians to sure torture, a call now that the government hopes will get lost in the post Olympic euphoria when Parliament resumes.

Proroguing Parliament also puts time and distance between the Prime Minister and his shameful performance at the summit on climate change held in December in Copenhagen, where Canada was universally held up as an international example of worst practices. Not only is Canada among the top ten greenhouse gas emitters in the world, but the only country to ratify and then abandon the Kyoto Protocol, announcing weeks before the summit that it would be a failure.

Stephen Harper's government continues to promote unlimited growth in the Alberta tar sands — Canada's Mordor — the fastest growing source of pollution emissions in the country, and this fact was repeatedly cited by delegates from the global South as a barrier to their commitment to reducing their own emissions.

George Monbiot called Canada a "corrupt petrostate" in The Guardian and said that Canada's failure in Copenhagen outweighs all the good the country has done in a century. During the summit, climate change activists in London England took down the flag at the Canadian High Commission and drenched it in oil, an action that received widespread attention there but not in Canada.

Under Stephen Harper, Canada has also abandoned its traditional support of human rights initiatives at the United Nations. In 2007, Canada was one of a handful of countries to vote against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples', which sets out global human rights standards for indigenous communities and was supported by the vast majority of UN member nations.

Human rights and First Nations groups pointed to a well-funded campaign of the Harper government to derail the accord at the UN and charged it with giving in to big business demands for access to the lucrative energy and mineral wealth on native lands.

Similarly, Canada has refused to support the call for the human right to water at the UN in spite of the fact that billions of people are suffering from the inability to access clean water simply because it has a price on it that they cannot meet. A powerful international movement is calling for a covenant to ensure equitable access to the dwindling global supplies of fresh water. To the bafflement of the international community, Canada is not among the growing list of nations on side.

And let's not forget the disgraceful human rights and environmental violations of many Canadian mining companies operating in the global South with the full blessing and financial support of the Harper government.

Close to two thirds of the world's mining companies are registered in Canada. The Export Development Corporation provides loans, insurance and credit to them in the absence of standards, regulations and disclosure.

Global expansion of Canadian mining operations has been accompanied by environmental disaster, displacement of Indigenous Peoples and numerous human rights abuses. In many communities in the global South, the name Canada is connected with injustice. Yet Prime Minister Harper refuses to support calls to set even the most basic standards for these mining emissaries abroad.

I am personally ashamed of my country as I travel internationally. In a world calling out for new models of justice, conflict resolution and environmental stewardship, Canada could be playing such a powerful role as it has done in the past. Stephen Harper with a majority frightens me.

No comments:

Post a Comment