Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Stephen Harper suddenly talking dirty bombs

This is a new one: "Canada may use G8 summit to battle spread of dirty bombs." Have never heard of a Harper interest in dirty bombs before. I'm tempted to say it's impressive, but hold on...let's look for it...oh yes, here it is (see emphasized part):
Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and corralling components for a dirty bomb terror attack is fast becoming Canada's top agenda item for the G8 summit it will host this summer.
It appears Canada will have at least two important G8 supporters in their effort to put reducing nuclear stockpiles atop the G8 agenda. The Obama White House in Washington and the Kremlin in Moscow. U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, have agreed to pursue a new treaty to reduce their formidable nuclear arsenals.

Because it holds the 2010 presidency of the G8, Canada gets to set the agenda, and featuring arms control has some tangible political benefits for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It diverts focus from another big global issue – climate change, where Canada's energy and environmental policies face a high level of international criticism – and it aligns Canadian foreign policy with Mr. Obama's international priorities.
What...you thought there was some compelling, Canadian-driven national interest that our Prime Minister would push on his own initiative? Just because we have the rare privilege of being able to set the agenda at a major international meeting of nations? How nice of Mr. Harper to essentially cede the agenda setting role to the U.S. and Russia.

I suppose there's little influence Harper practically has internationally at this stage of his tenure in any event. He was recently excluded from an Obama-led special meeting at Copenhagen, has declined to appoint anyone as a Canadian representative to the American Af-Pak diplomatic effort and now it appears we might be an afterthought in the current international discussions developing on Yemen as well.

Not to diminish the importance of this nuclear proliferation issue, of course not. It's important but there is the whole political cover aspect referenced above regarding climate change issues and the makeshift, out-of-the-blue nature of its sudden prioritization from Harper. Not to mention the head waiter-like aspect of Harper's role here. Guess that's what can happen when your international agenda is not exactly a priority.

The appearance of this issue on the national scene all of a sudden also smacks of changing the subject, away from prorogation, away from Afghanistan. Something to keep in mind.