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Canada trips up on the world stage [editorial]
So here in Canada we expect that our leaders will be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Or, in more refined terms, will be able to juggle many files on many fronts simultaneously. So you can imagine our disappointment with the Harper Conservatives. Apparently, there is only one ball in the air for them. And that’s the “get a majority and disregard any other priority,” agenda item. And skill, even in that narrow-focused goal, is lacking.
Take the Conservative’s response to the criticism in the Oct. 26th fall report from Canada’s Auditor General Sheila Fraser. She noted a lack of government oversight, “troubling” cost overruns and delivery delays in a federal purchase of $11 billion worth of military helicopters.
On Oct. 27, the Prime Minister Stephen Harper, no less, stood up in the House of Commons, reached back into the history books, and blamed the federal Liberal Party for all that is wrong with his government’s federal spending and accountability issues.
Harper said that had it not been for the Liberals having cancelled the contract to purchase helicopters—17 years ago—Canada wouldn’t be in this mess. How embarrassing.
Perhaps MacLeans.ca said it best:
“Give [Harper] enough time and he’ll explain how his government’s current budgetary deficit is a direct result of Alexander Mackenzie‘s inability to prepare for the recession of the 1870s.”
It’s not the first time this year, or even this month, that Harper came out swinging for the Opposition Party to deflect from his government’s inadequacies. Remember on Oct. 12 when Canada couldn’t arm-wrestle a seat on the United Nations Security Council from that international powerhouse Portugal? Not even when they poured maple syrup over all the voting delegates.
At least that time it wasn’t “The Prime Minister” who stood before the media to say Canada’s currency on the international stage wasn’t worth a plug nickel because of the Liberals. It was Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon who said lack of support from Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff had led to the world rejecting Canada for this most important appointment. ‘Who?,’ the 191 voting delegates were asking?
Ignatieff had pointed out that Canada had not done enough recently to earn a seat at the table, and the vote was confirmation of that fact, not because of that statement. Canada, in recent years, has not been carrying its weight internationally, and the Conservatives couldn’t care a fig.
Just ask Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart-Olsen. She took issue with a statement from Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Wilton Littlechild who boasted that Canada’s reputation internationally had been bolstered by the TRC’s work. As the first First World country to have established such a commission, Canada’s TRC was being hailed around the world as a model of good practise in the areas of reconciliation and conflict resolution. You’d think that would be a good thing, but no.
Stewart-Olsen said she was against any energies devoted by the TRC on the international front. It was not within the commission’s mandate.
Harper’s Conservatives hate everything Liberal, and the TRC was negotiated during the last Liberal government as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, so bouquets from the international community is bad, very bad.
Here’s more evidence. Canada has still not signed on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, despite promises to do so. The declaration was drafted over several years with Canada, to its credit, leading the charge for its adoption, and then the Conservatives bailed. The declaration carried a Liberal brand, so the Conservatives rejected it. It seems they can’t see beyond the next election to worry about how the rest of the world views this country. Talk about dropping the ball, over and over again.
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