Thursday, July 30, 2009
A Foreign Affairs Directive to Remember
You do all remember that this man once said we wouldn't recognise Canada when he got through with it right? Well, he certainly is doing his damnedest to prove himself right.
Sadly, while most us of get caught up in the little things, many of which are tossed out as shiny objects, a much more serious shift is taking place in this country and too few imo are paying attention.
Now, before I go off on a tangent, let me be clear. I am under no illusion that every government that comes to power has both the right and a need to put their own mark on the country. What gets to me in this case though, is just how little Harper's philosophy has been examined and because of that much of what he is doing flies under the radar or is dismissed as politics or government as usual. It's not though, not with this man. In fact, I'm certain that the a good portion of his supporters really have no idea what he is all about.
That said, let me get to my point and that is the subject I've been focused on lately, Foreign Affairs.
I've focused on some individual cases here of late, but inferred that there was a bigger issue and yesterday, we gained a little clarity on that.
Two articles in Embassy speak to the issue and make it pretty clear that this Government is changing who we are as a nation.
Fearful that political staffers are severely diluting Canada's foreign policy through alterations to policy language, senior Foreign Affairs officials have begun pushing back against their political masters.
With subtle strokes of the pen, it appears the Conservative government has been systematically changing the language employed by the foreign service and, as a result, bringing subtle but sweeping changes to traditional Canadian foreign policy.
This is not minor stuff people. Yes, this can be changed back, but the damage done in the meantime is not minor.
Since 9-11, the culture has changed here and elsewhere. That is certainly true as it relates to CSIS, but in that case, I suspect it was simply an opening that some in that org. had been waiting for.
Changes were also necessary in Foreign Affairs. In my view, there was a strong reaction initially. Fear drove everything in those days, but as time moved forward, we began to see that some of the actions taken were in fact an over-reaction. No one is saying that vigilance isn't needed in today's climate, but caution based in fact, not ideology, is what must prevail.
Now, I have to say it's difficult for me to understand why the Harper government places such a low value on human and women's rights, but there is no denying that they do. By difficult to understand I mean I can't imagine what it is to value some, more than others, yet that is what is becoming more and more evident. Equally as disturbing is the ongoing evidence that this government is happy to assume people are guilty, without the benefit of trial. Essentially based on hearsay. Consider the revelations from the Abdelrazik case.
Here is some more from Embassy:
In an email communication obtained by Embassy, staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs express concern about frequent changes being made to commonly used terms, particularly where such changes are not consistent with accepted Canadian policy, and which may be carried out to minimize international obligations on issues as complex as the Omar Khadr case.
For many observers of Canada's foreign policy, these are distressing language changes that water down many of the very international human rights obligations Canada once fought to have adopted in conventions at the United Nations. As one source said, in the international world of diplomacy—where officials often focus detailed discussions on the language included in documents and policies—wording makes a big difference.
There it is right there. We are watering down the international human rights obligations that we previously fought for. I haven't done the research but I would wager that both Mulroney and Clark (if we are speaking recent history), also fought for these principles.
I'm so sad that this doesn't get the coverage it deserves. There is more ink spilled on will there or won't there be an election than real issues that just might just get Canadians thinking, regardless of where they come down.
These are issues that an election should be fought on. The tone of our country in the world relates directly to so many other policy areas. Immigration, investment, trust in negotiation, to name but a few.
In today's world though, how on earth would you fight an election on a complex issue when your opponent, Harper, has reduced the dialogue to school yard taunts?