Monday, November 16, 2009

An historic achievement for Canada

Praise is being heard today for the former Liberal government who led the world in establishing a landmark treaty to rid the world of landmines: "Canadian landmine initiative saved thousands of lives: report."
The Canadian-led treaty to rid the world of landmines has saved thousands of lives and significantly reduced production and use of the devastating, anti-personnel weapons, according to a new international report.

The Ottawa Treaty, which was implemented 10 years ago, made the use and production of landmines illegal in 156 countries that ratified the accord.

According to the 10-year review in Landmines Monitor, unexploded weapons have been cleared from at least 3,200 square kilometres of land in more than 90 countries.

In the past decade, 2.2 million landmines have been removed, along with 250,000 anti-vehicle mines and 17 million explosive remnants of war shells.
The international Mine Ban Treaty, signed in Ottawa in December 1997 and enacted as international law in March 1999, is seen internationally as one of Canada’s most significant diplomatic accomplishments.
And you know what's coming next, don't you? The Conservative government has essentially walked away from such disarmament efforts. There was a next stage to the landmine treaty, a global consensus on the need to institute a similar follow-up process on cluster munitions. Yet Canada was no longer interested and Norway and Ireland took the lead. To the rest of the world, that sees a Canada that would formerly have been there to enthusiastically participate in such efforts, Canada's new role in turning its back on such diplomatic achievements is baffling. Why would you walk away from such an international legacy?

The answer of course is that this international acclaim arises from the "B.H." era, Before Harper. Government policy from that era is inherently suspect and quaint notions of continuity aren't entertained. We don't do the treaty thing anymore, our inclinations are not so peace oriented. In fact, our foreign policy has become distinctly politically oriented. Meanwhile, applause for the former Canadian government:
Paul Hannon, executive director of the Ottawa-based Mines Action Canada, said the study confirms “the wisdom of Canada leading the world to ban landmines.”

“This report documents clearly the progress that has been made and shows we continue to get closer to a world free of anti-personnel landmines” he said.
Congratulations Canada for this historic ongoing achievement on the international stage - that the Conservatives want nothing to do with.