Friday, January 29, 2010

Vulnerable Children and Why Stephen Harper Should Never Have Rewritten Our Foreign Policy

I remember the singer Ricky Martin was on Oprah, discussing the trafficking of children from areas hit by disaster. From the tsunami to Katrina, many of those recently orphaned were being whisked away and sold.

It's a horrible thing to think about, especially since Stephen Harper rewrote our foreign policy, denying protection of these children.

Of course his reasoning was to remove any international involvement from the UN or International Criminal Court. It wasn't enough being a dictator in Canada. He wanted to make Canada an island, so we had few safeguards anywhere.

The terms "gender equality," "child soldiers," "international humanitarian law," "good governance," "human security," "public diplomacy" and "The Responsibility to Protect" have been blacklisted from government parlance ....

These terms were once championed by Canada, are in wide use around the world, and represent a wide range of international norms and precedent. Make no mistake, these semantic changes represent fundamental shifts to Canadian foreign policy. Each of the banned or altered terms carry with it significant policy implications, most related to the international human rights agenda.

For example, when speaking of the war in the DRC, where upwards of 3 million people have been killed, and rape is widely used as a tool of war, the terms "impunity" and "justice" can no longer be used when calling for an end to, and punishment for, sexual violence.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that stories from Haiti are just what Ricky Martin was talking about. Since humanitarian aid is being trumped by 'soldiering', it has me wondering what our priorities will be.

Many on the ground suggest that this massive build up of an army is more to protect corporate interests in Haiti. I know our own troops will act admirably because they grew up in a Canada where humanity was important.

But it still makes me incredibly sad and embarrassed. I guess this is who we are now. Bring in the army to protect our investments and anything else is secondary. The following report is from the UK because Canadians are not allowed to mention this.

Traffickers prey on hordes of Haiti quake orphans
By VIRGINIA WHEELER in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
January 28, 2010
THEY are orphaned, terrified and hungry - a lost generation facing fresh peril last night as hell-on-earth became a PARADISE for child predators. Babies and toddlers were among dazed kiddies being plucked by brutes from the rubble of earthquake-devastated Haiti.

Even those praying for sanctuary at medical centres set up in the stricken Caribbean nation were not safe - as aid workers warned child-trafficking gangs had sprung up across the shattered capital. Fifeen being treated were revealed to have been snatched by men later found not to be relatives ....


  1. Hi Emily,

    Thanks for posting about the children of Haiti. Save the Children has been on the ground in Haiti for three decades. The situation for Haitian children has never been easy and it has become exponentially worse since the earthquake.

    Save the Children has so far established 16 Child Friendly Spaces where children without parents (either due to death or displacement) and children whose parents/family require a temporary place to leave them while they seek work or food and water. The children can play without fear of exploitation. These spaces are also providing a place and time for learning and psychological support which children need after a tragedy of such magnitude.

    If you or your readers would like to follow the work Save the Children is doing in Haiti and around the world, please visit Save the Children Canada's website:

    Save the Children - EVERY ONE Campaign Coordinator

  2. Thank you Cicely. Your organization does such important work. I will post a link on my blog and remind my friends at CAPP of what you are doing. On behalf of Canadians everywhere, we applaud you.