Monday, June 01, 2009

"Leading from behind"

How foreign policy has come to be characterized under the Harper administration. Today's latest achievement for Canada, standing back and watching the Gitmo mess roll on, without as much as a whimper from our Foreign Affairs Minister: " Khadr loses bid to fire U.S. lawyers." There was a tiny dalliance with concern for Khadr's choice of counsel from the Harper government in April, yet they failed to send a representative to today's hearing. So much for supporting that position. Canada is in the bleachers on this one, still.

Abandoning Khadr to the unconstitutional, torturous Gitmo is one of their more high profile foreign affairs failings. Professor Errol Mendes, seconded to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, wrote an op-ed published this weekend, "What it means to lead in the world," that itemizes the many issues on which Canada is falling behind and that the world is noticing. Shrinking back on issues we've previously led on, in the past leading on eliminating land mines, now shirking the continued work on eradicating cluster munitions:
"...little interest was shown in perpetuating the legacy of the historic achievement of Canada in the Ottawa Treaty by the present Conservative government."
Other issues of note that are being observed the world over:
The present Conservative government seems bent on being an outlier on developing such justice and human rights standards, as was evidenced in its opposition to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada refused to join 143 nations that voted in favour, with only four — Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States — voting against. Canada may soon find itself isolated even on this slap to aboriginal Canadians. Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has announced he will reverse Australia’s negative vote, and New Zealand and the U.S. are also reconsidering their opposition.

Likewise we have seen the Conservatives engineer a failure by Canada to co-sponsor the UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, breaking almost a decade-long tradition of Canadian leadership against a punishment ruled cruel and unusual by our own Supreme Court. Likewise, Canada is leading from behind in upholding its most cherished democratic and human rights values, in refusing to bring home former child soldier Omar Khadr from Guantanamo Bay while all other western nations have repatriated their nationals.

The government has ignored other Canadians in dire predicaments abroad; in the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, refusing to allow his return to Canada from Sudan.
They're having a 100 year celebration at DFAIT apparently. And its legacy is not being observed well by the Harper crew.