Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Annals of statesmanship

There's this news that prompts a spontaneous moment of reflection and good will from Canadians across party lines: "Tributes pour in for a gravely ill Peter Lougheed."
Considered one of Canada’s greatest statesmen and an unabashed champion for his home province of Alberta, former premier Peter Lougheed remains gravely ill in hospital, according to his successor, Don Getty.
And then there's this news that prompts a ton of response in the Globe, off the charts in terms of the recent numbers of comments you will see there: "Harper, honoured in N.Y. as statesman of the year, aims to snub UN."

What did Harper do on the world stage over the past year beyond the recent closure of the Canadian embassy in Iran? Let's review the award winning brand of statesmanship.

We saw Harper of the health care benefit cuts to refugees that were deplored by Nobel winner Elie Wiesel. There was more arbitrary international application of the death penalty. There was Canada's "no" to the IMF, a lonely position in the G20 at a serious moment for the Eurozone. We saw condemnation from the international science community on environmental cuts. We saw more of the go-it-alone routine with other allies as well, not exactly the stance one thinks of when they hear the word "statesmanship."

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, meet your 2012 pick in statesmanship by a New York based foundation that gets a lot of press. Statesmanship - for lack of a better word, of course, the "man" is inherently sexist but what to use in its place - just doesn't seem to be what it used to in the political world. It now seems to involve less constructive engagement and a higher degree of lecturing and finger pointing.

Anyway, it's not the awards that tell us who the statesmen are among us.