Saturday, October 16, 2010

So Michael Ignatieff Destroyed Our UN Bid. Why Not Paul Heinbecker? Or Are They Afraid We'll Read His Book?

There was a letter to the editor in the Kingston Whig Standard, by Roy Kenny of Napanee, in response to Canada losing it's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

It wasn't unlike others I've read from Harper's supporters. Things like "freedom", "human rights", "democracy" and "the rule of law", thrown around.

Michael Ignatieff suggesting that "we didn't deserve a seat on the Security Council", tilting the vote, though it was erroneously stipulated that he had been saying that for months, when in fact it's been more like days.

But there is something very important that is being missed here. Partisan jabbering aside, this is a significant snub. And while I'm sure Ignatieff is flattered that anyone thinks he has that much power, it's other voices we should be listening to, because those are the voices that made the difference.

Like that of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Kamalesh Sharma, who in November of 2009, joined others in a movement to have Canada kicked out of the Commonwealth, because of our inaction on climate change. Or the voices at Copenhagen who awarded us the 'Colossal Fossil', not just for our "do nothing" stance, but for the fact that the Harper government actually sabotaged the negotiations.

Or Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, who lambasted Stephen Harper for snubbing organizers of a major international conference because he was “afraid” to show his face after his lack of leadership on health at the recent G8 summit.

Or maybe the voice of Robert Fowler, Canada's former top diplomat who was kidnapped and held for ransom last year, while on a special mission for the UN. He recently commented: “I’m not sure that Canada deserves to win this election, for we no longer represent the qualities which we Canadians have long insisted that candidates for the council should bring to such responsibilities."

Or perhaps the voices of Mr. Fowler's colleagues, the 100 former senior diplomats and ambassadors who signed a letter, along with Fowler, in support of Richard Colvin, the man who was being vilified by the Harper government because he spoke out against Afghan detainee abuse.

Or how about Paul Heinbecker, our UN Ambassador the last time we had a seat on the council. Heinbecker has written a book which offers a scathing assessment of the Harper government's international performance. He criticizes our UN peacekeeping missions, where we are now ranked 53rd, and reveals that Canadian diplomats are discouraged from taking part in UN human rights negotiations. They are also forbid from using terms such as "gender equality" and "international humanitarian law", even though these terms come from treaties Canada has ratified; simply "because the words offended the sensibilities of the party's social conservative base."

And we can also add the voices of Canadian foreign aid workers who understand the significance of the "secret" changes to our foreign policy. Like Adrian Bradbury in Northern Uganda, who got his "list" of things he's no longer allowed to say. "When speaking of the war, 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."

And Bradbury reminds us that Canada had fought hard to have those things included in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, making them part of the human rights language. Now we have abandoned them with no input or debate.

So Mr. Kenney while you might not respect the United Nations, the fact is that the United Nations used to respect us. And it was not only African or Arab nations voting against us, but many former allies, including India.

And while most Canadians do stand with Israel, we prefer that it not be at the expense of our relationship with the rest of the Arab world, or mean that we have to marginalize one million Muslim Canadians. It was that kind of narrow minded attitude and xenophobia that caused the Holocaust.

But maybe Robert Fowler says it best, when he aptly remarked recently: "The world does not need more of the kind of Canada they’ve been getting.”

I'm so proud.

1 comment:

  1. "And while most Canadians do stand with Israel,"


    No no no, I do not support Israel. NO NO NO NO NO NONO NO NO NO

    p.s. My b/f is Jewish, I know about this issue.