Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Egypt debate

Last night the emergency debate on the situation in Egypt took place in the House of Commons. As events in Egypt took a turn for the worse yesterday, the timing was right on.

Bob Rae deserves credit for having initiated the debate. It allowed for a fairly lengthy engagement and set of speeches by members. Canada's views at this historic moment in time were put on the record. But for Rae's initiation of the debate, that wouldn't have happened. It would have been nice to see the Foreign Affairs Minister initiating such a debate on behalf of the government, but nevertheless, it happened and Lawrence Cannon did attend. So I won't even be too hard on him for spending time in his capacity as Foreign Affairs Minister at this challenging moment engaging in such photo-ops as this one yesterday.

The debate is worth a read. It is useful background to what we are seeing on our television screens. It informs of how Canada might possibly be involved going forward, in the various back and forth, in the questions raised. It raises the issue of Canada's role in promoting democratic governance abroad (by Rae, principally) and whether we should devote more resources to that goal. That is a question we may be hearing more about. 

There are some predictable moments of government members getting the government's actions during this crisis on the record in a favourable light, and some posturing from opposition members, but beyond that, there are some good speeches and some thoughtful and even genuine moments. If you are feeling dismayed these days by some of the goings on in Canadian politics, it might even help you along in restoring your interest and faith that things can indeed be civil. Everyone who participated last night deserves credit.