Monday, February 15, 2010

Stephen Harper: International Player

Is that a thud we hear? Why yes, I do believe it is:
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced he would like maternal health and children to be the focus of the summits.

If the United States is at all enthusiastic about that proposal, Jacobson is revealing little of it.

'That one is still under debate,' he says. 'I think there is some sense that on the financial side of things, that that needs to be the primary focus at the G20 because there are some major members of the financial community that are not members of the G8. And the question then becomes what should be the primary focus on the G8 in the meeting that precedes the G20 ... The Prime Minister has made a suggestion. I think that there are a number of other suggestions. That's not to say the Prime Minister's is not a good one. But there are a number of other suggestions.'"
Gee, it's not like ol' Steve doesn't have the chairship of those aforementioned G-shindigs. You'd think there'd be some respect for his agenda setting priorities because he holds that chair position. But then again...on the world stage, when seeking to build a consensus on an issue, it probably helps if you have a record of acting on such issues. You know, demonstrated caring in the field to which one aspires to lead others. That gives one credibility to persuade other nations to buy into the effort. If not, then you hear this kind of polite recognition thing, as we do here. As in, that's all very nice and it's important but really, this is all new to us coming from Canada. The Americans are in wait and see mode, hedging. That can't be the somewhat argumentative response the Harper crew had in mind, is it?

The other international aspect to today's mini-review of political goings on, of course, the "big" trip. Harper heads to Haiti to tell them how to reconstruct. Listen up, world:
"We are continuing to work with the government of Haiti to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance,'' Harper said in a statement Sunday.

''At the same time, we now need to address the long-term challenges of reconstruction, based on the principles of sustainability, effectiveness and accountability."
Find anything odd about that latter statement? From Mr. Harper, uttering the words sustainability and accountability as organizing principles for anything seems a bit rich. We're not exactly paragons of virtue in either category these days. Not to take away from Canadian leadership efforts to ensure that the Haitian people get needed reconstruction efforts that are indeed integrity laden and productive. But the irony of hearing about accountability, in particular, from Harper just begs the question, might we get some of that up here?