In the first part of this blog post, I wrote about how the protectionist trade policies of the Harper government caused the Canadian military to be kicked out of Camp Mirage. But the second, and somewhat related international setback for the Harper government was at the UN. Canadian officials were very confident that they were going to be voted to retain, along with Germany, a two-year term on the security council.
Well that didn’t happen. Even though Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said he received assurances that delegates were going to vote for Canada. I guess Mr. Cannon didn’t take into consideration the idea that diplomats don’t always tell the truth. It was Portugal that ended up winning the last remaining seat. Portugal! A country that is neck-deep in debt, which has needed to set some heavy austerity measures in place in order to stop the financial bleeding. Why would the UN vote for them over Canada. Well, I will give you some:
- The Harper government has shown total disdain for the UN for the past 5 years. Why would UN member nations who treat the institution and its work seriously want to vote in a country whose government thinks the UN is made up of ill-behaved school children? Harper can’t expect to be invited to the cool kids table after ignoring them for so long.
- The Canadian government under Harper has changed foreign policy quite a bit since the days of Chretien. And that is totally acceptable and expected with the change of government. However, there is always a cost for changing foreign policies. These policies include many different areas such as foreign aid and the middle east peace process. They have a very one-sided view of the middle east, a view that makes the Israeli government look innocent in every situation. They announced days before the vote a package to be used to increase trade with Israel. Did Harper think the Arab nations were going to rush to vote for Canada with such policies.
- The U.A.E., who were angry at Canada already , lobbied the Arab nations not to vote for Canada.
There are other reasons as well, but ones I won’t go into. To make a long story short, it was the Harper government’s fault they didn’t get the seat. Some of it because of policy, but also because of bumbling the whole process. If they had looked at the whole board, and for example, announced the Israeli trade deal after the vote, maybe our chances would have been better.
Shamefully, instead of the Harper government taking responsibility for the international embarrassment, they were very quick to blame others. Because if there is one trademark of the Harper government, it’s that someone else is always to blame.
In this case, it started off as being Michael Ignatieff’s fault. Cannon said that if it weren’t for comments that Ignattiff made about Canada not deserving a seat, they would have won the vote. Does that mean the Harper government is saying that the world is more interested in listening the leader of the opposition over the Prime Minster. I don’t think that placing blame, I think it is making the PM look incompetent. Not only that, but the Prime Minister and his cabinet must think Canadians are stupid if they are to believe that spin. The first rule of spin is that it has to be somewhat believable.
Next, it was the fault of the United States for not lobbying on our behalf. This was even more preposterous because the accusation was born out of a column a conservative anchor on Fox News had written. And this makes sense, because the Harper government loves Fox News, and if we as Canadians are good at something, its blaming our country’s problems on the United States. However, this not true either. The United States is its own country with its own interests. They act in their own interests, as every nation does. So if the US government felt it was not in their interest to lobby on the behalf of Canada, then that’s their prerogative. Canada cannot blames the US for acting in its own interest, and I highly doubt the US government is losing sleep over it anyways.
Lastly, the most interesting part of these two incidents over the last week has been Mr. Harper himself. Where has he been? Directly following the news about both incidents, Harper was nowhere near a microphone, and didn’t comment for several days. And why? Because when the mistakes of this government are made evident to everyone, Harper lets his cabinet take the fall for the mistakes that rest on his shoulders.