Prime Minister Stephen Harper played a prominent role on the world stage during last week’s G8 meeting in France and visit with Canadian troops in Afghanistan. But his performance only betrayed an unwillingness to restore Canada to its position of leader and honest broker of conflicts on the world stage.
During the last six years of successive minority governments, Harper understandably obsessed with power and domestic issues. But now, with a comfortable Parliamentary majority, he’d a golden opportunity to play world statesman. He could have signaled to the world that the honest broker of global conflicts was back. Instead, he blew it.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was Harper’s chief focus at the G8 meeting in France. He reiterated his unconditional support of Israel. There’s even a suggestion that Harper did “the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”. Very likely. Harper vowed to defend Israel at whatever cost. He told the world Canada is “obligated” to defend Israeli. That’s bologna. Canada’s chief global obligation is to be an honest broker of global conflicts.
Harper’s no-compromise support of Israel contradicted US President Barack Obama’s recent progressive statement on the Israeli-Arab conflict. Obama wisely declared that the disputed 1967 borders should be central to renewed peace talks.
The PM’s Afghanistan pits-stop betrayed a parochial interpretation of world issues popular with blinkered supporters of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Harper called Canada’s mission in Afghanistan a “success”. Seriously, define success. What do we have to show for the 156 Canadian lives the conflict claimed? Enduring stability? Increased human rights for Afghan women and girls? Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, “our man in Kabul”, is weak. He’s very little control of the country. The Taliban is still as strong as the day we waged the war against them.
Harper suggested that Afghanistan no longer represented a “geostrategic risk to the world”, according to the CBC. Since when was Afghanistan, the country, a geostrategic threat to the world?
With a majority in Ottawa backing him, Harper will now relax and travel the world. But that will not transform him into a world statesman. A willingness to restore Canada to its position of leadership and respect on the world stage is key. Late last year, the world denied Canada a UN Security Council seat for the first time in sixty years, a clear rebuke for the Country’s recent foreign policy mistakes, including:
- The Conservative government’s recent slashing of development assistance to needy developing countries
- Guantanamo and the thorny Omar Khadr issue
- The evolving joint Canada-US cross-border security deal, a shameless surrender of Canadian sovereignty to the Americans
We’ll closely watch Harper’s performance on the world stage in the next four years.