Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Book Lambasts Stephen Harper and His Foreign Policy

A new book by Canada's most recent ambassador to the UN Security Council, that is highly critical of the Harper government, will be out just prior to the vote on that seals our fate.
"Harper's commitment to Canada's campaign for a two-year seat on the Security Council, a seat that Canada has won once a decade since the late 1940s, has seemed to be more motivated by a fear of being the first government to fail to do so . . . than by either the benefits a victory would bring to Canadian foreign policy or by the opportunity it would provide for making a mark on the world," writes [Paul] Heinbecker in his forthcoming book, Getting Back in the Game, due out Oct. 5.

Heinbecker was Canada's UN ambassador during the county's last turn on the Security Council in 2000, part of a distinguished career that also included being chief foreign policy adviser to former prime minister Brian Mulroney. Heinbecker is one of Canada's leading foreign policy commentators and his book offers a scathing assessment of the Harper government's international performance since coming to power in 2006.
Included are:
Canada's participation in UN peacekeeping missions during Harper's tenure has remained at a "low ebb" with country ranked 53rd as of January, says Heinbecker.
Harper has also discouraged Canadian diplomats from taking part in UN human rights negotiations and from using terms such as "gender equality" and "international humanitarian law."

Even though these terms come from treaties Canada has ratified, Heinbecker says Harper banned them "because the words offended the sensibilities of the party's social conservative base."

Tilting Canada towards Israel in the Middle East, while ignoring the suffering of the Palestinians is "the sharpest policy change" that Harper has made, says Heinbecker.

"The prime minister took us into uncharted territory when he suggested the existence of a Canadian alliance with Israel," he writes, referring to Harper's declaration in May that "those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada."

Overall, Heinbecker says Harper's foreign policy has featured "ample rhetoric and posturing, but the results have been scarce."

Heinbecker argues that it is not too late for the prime minister to raise Canada's international profile. "Unless he makes some significant adjustments in the meantime, when Prime Minister Harper leaves office, Canada will still be on the international sidelines, largely alone."
I guess we can expect attacks on Paul Heinbecker soon.

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