Monday, May 11, 2009

Small ball, of course

Bev Oda, fronting the Conservative government's response to the ongoing catastrophe in Sri Lanka, is preoccupied with the big questions of the day: "Tamil Tiger flags at protest give impression terrorist group part of demo."
The Conservative government says Tamil-Canadian protests, including one that shut down a Toronto highway on the weekend, are giving people the idea that a terrorist group is part of the demonstrations.

Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda says she noticed Tamil Tiger flags being flown at the protests.

The Tamil Tigers are considered a terrorist group by the Canadian government.

Oda tells a national news agency that the flags being flown "would say to Canadians that ... the terrorist organization is part of the demonstrations that happened."

Some protesters chanted their support for the Tamil Tigers at Sunday's highway protest.
Because it's all about the freaking flags now, isn't it? Flags and attempting to ensnare their political opposition into appearing as if they support terrorists. You would like to think that the Canadian government could elevate itself beyond its constant need to distract and find excuses for its own non-engagement and withering away from leadership on issues, particularly at a moment when there's a pressing international crisis crying out for our engagement...but you'd be wrong, of course. Their list of non-engagement is long and growing. Letting Omar Khadr sit at Guantanamo Bay. Letting Abousfian Abdelrazik sleep on a cot in the Canadian embassy in Sudan. Tamil Canadians with their shutting down of a major highway in Canada's largest city are just the most recent symptom of what is wrong with this Conservative government. People are crying out for them to act, flooding the streets and desperately urging Canada to speak out with Canada's traditional diplomatic sway. To do what the British Foreign Secretary is doing today at the UN, video here, speaking forcefully about the need to address what is going on in Sri Lanka, providing leadership. Britain and France are leading on the issue today but Canada is MIA once again. Our Foreign Affairs Minister is otherwise occupied and ceding it to the weak and ineffectual Bev Oda who also attempted to make political hay out of the situation in the House of Commons today by exclusively thanking the NDP for their leadership in diffusing the protest last night in Toronto when most reporting last night led with the Liberal initiative.
Karygiannis said the prime minister should "get on the blowhorn" and speak to members of the UN Security Council because "we need solutions, we need action, we need it today - people are dying on those beaches."
Maybe if the Tamil Canadians were Russians they might have more luck. Bellowing in cold war rhetoric seems to be one of the Conservative government's favourite past times and they'd be all over it. It's all hardly surprising but they're always good for a disappointment. Hopefully Canadians are wondering to themselves, why is it that this group is shutting down a major Canadian city? And what is it that our government is doing in response, substantively?

The Liberals and the NDP showed leadership last night that was lacking from the Conservative government. Good for them.