Tag Archives: United Nations

Haiti, one year later: The failure of Stephen Harper’s lip-service foreign policy

More than 230,000 are believed to have died in the earthquake in January, and more than 1 million remain homeless. A cholera epidemic broke out in autumn, and an election was held, its results still unclear.” – The Guardian.

One year ago an earthquake totaled Haiti, a country that was already a victim of history. Canadians, feeling the connection to a country with a large enclave with Canada and due to the fact that we are an international people, responded by donating to help with the relief effort. The Canadian army, as always, preformed admirably in the recovery effort. In a dark time, Canadians responded by opening their hearts, not ignoring the needs of others.

Our government initially did the right thing, offering to match donations and assuring Haitians that they had Canada’s support. These promises turned out to be quite hollow. The earthquake happened a few weeks after Stephen Harper prorogued parliament for a second time. I don’t think, nor would I ever accuse, that the government was using Haiti to change the channel on prorogation but the context is important.

Weeks and months later it was revealed that the Harper government was extremely slow in getting the money to Haiti, and recently it was revealed that the UN asked the government if Canadian troops could remain and they refused.

This is typical of Stephen Harper’s foreign policy. Our bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council was the diplomatic equivalent of a university essay written the night before, the Harper government’s petulance lost us a base in the UAE, and this Prime Minister spent 4 years ignoring China and India, and has done nothing to address human rights issues in China.

There is a dangerously false notion emerging that says that Stephen Harper’s government IS Canada and therefore criticizing the Harper government for its many foreign policy failures is “Cheering against Canada.” Conflating Canada with Stephen Harper’s government is wrong. The Conservatives were never given a foreign policy mandate from the Canadian people. Lawrence Cannon and Stephen Harper have never asked Michael Ignatieff or Bob Rae to collaborate on foreign policy issues (though both are respected in international circles.) I was relieved when Canada didn’t get a seat on the UNSC The Security Council is a series body and Stephen Harper’s government bases its foreign policy on winning votes from ethnic communities within Canada, not on Canadian international values and principles. This government has decided to turn Canadian politics into total war, thus politicizing every action it takes. When they lost the UN Security Council seat their first and only response was to blame Michael Ignatieff. The only people cheering against this country were the Conservatives who relished this failure as an opportunity to score cheap political points.

One final digression: The media has a perverse habit of treating the Liberal Party of Canada like it is the government. Liberals are ignored when they are announcing policy but they must deal infinitely more scrutiny than the Conservatives were given before they became government and to a degree now that they are messing up the country in power.

The Canadian action plan was all about building stadiums and putting up signs that served as photo-op backgrounds for the Prime Minister. Conservative foreign policy has the same potemkin qualities, they announce, they attack their opponents, then nothing is actually accomplished.

In a minority setting and in most cases Stephen Harper’s lip-service style of governance is benign. In the case of Haiti, it has real consequences.

Kory Teneycke’s Farcical Foreign Policy

Kory Teneycke, Stephen Harper’s director of communication from July 2008 to July 2009, is now a contributor to the CBC. On June 1st he appeared along side Don Newman on P&P to discuss the Israel Flotilla incident. Unsurprisingly he tried to couch his uncritically pro-Israel opinion in the language of “wait-and-see” but in his bout with Newman he betrayed the neoconservative philosophy that the Harper government has been covertly injecting into Canadian foreign policy.

After falsely equating the current situation in the Middle-East with the First and Second World Wars and being corrected by Don Newman (Mr. Newman reminded him that what is actually happening is a “Low grade conflict.”) the conversation went to the United Nations and Canada’s role in the U.N. (with the flotilla attack as the lens.)

On multilateralism, Mr. Teneycke made two outlandish statements that are as divorced from reality as the MP-of-the-Year award going to John Baird. Teneycke says that Canada should not be engaging in multilateral institutions.

If [the U.N.] had been successful in the Middle East we wouldn’t have seen the wars and bloodshed that we have seen over the last half century in that region. I don’t think it’s been effective there.

When Newman suggested that Canada needs to win on of the two open seats on the Security Council the former Stephen Harper Communications Director referred to this as “whoring yourself to the highest bidder.

From 1945 Canada has been instrumental in building the foundation for the current international system. We have always punched above our weight because our leaders have contributed to international law intellectually with our representatives making principled and pragmatic contributions to international debates. This has been true of Prime Ministers during global crises and when long-term planning was taking place from Louis St. Laurent to Mulroney to Paul Martin. Multilateralism is a Canadian value and because of our commitment to multilateralism it is an international value.

Apparently, Mr. Teneycke thinks that the problems in the Middle-East, which are the result of an Ethnic/Religious Conflict that has been going on since the 1200s where every country has been affected by colonialism, WWII and the Cold War, could have been solved in 60 years. The U.N. has actually made progress to resolve some of the conflicts in the Middle-East but the job is so big that it is laughable to suggest, as Teneycke does, that the issues that this region faces could be solved using a unilateral approach.

Kory Teneycke was hired by Prime Minister Harper because they were ideologically similar so one can infer from Teneycke’s statements that this is what Harper also believes. For evidence corroborating this extrapolation just look at how Canada is now opposing an impartial, United Nations led investigation of the flotilla incident.

Stephen Harper’s government is actively seeking a spot on the United Nations Security Council while working against the U.N. in what Kory Teneycke calls a “Principled Approach.” When we strip the Orwellian double-speak from the Conservative approach to foreign policy it’s obvious that Teneycke and Harper think that Canada should go it alone and go against 65 years of post-War Multilateralism.

H/T Impolitical.