Stephen Harper has been in power for the high side of a decade. That’s a long time.
Most Prime Ministers by this point in their careers have figured out that the foreign affairs portfolio is a tricky one. When you are a smallish nation like Canada, you get much better results by influencing rather than playing the puffed up pugilist.
Harper hasn’t figured this out. Does he really think that Putin notices his pronouncements in the wake of sanctions? Is he really daft enough to believe that his military posturing is going to convince Putin to back out of Crimea?
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Brian and Karen Foster question why steadily improving productivity has led to increasing stratification rather than better lives for a large number of people: (W)ith all the optimism, why hasn’t technological progress actually opened up a world where we all work, and we all work less? Why do we still have some people working overtime while others sit idle, wishing for employment? Why are we not seeing the spread of work-sharing schemes, where the duties of one job are divided into two or more jobs?
We have a government program that helps companies (Read more…)
Nothing in Sochi did more to honour and advance the Olympic ideals than the worldwide fight for equality unleashed by Russia’s infamous homophobic law. My post-Olympic analysis in the Toronto Star.
Over at Huffington Post, one of their columnists, JJ McCullough, is pontificating on Harper’s trip to Israel. In the comments, we find HP blogger Mitch Wolfe making the following daft statement:
This article is an excellent summary of Harper’s pro Israeli policies. It also provides an excellent summary of the so-called pundits’ views of Harper’s pro Israeli position. The pundits, the Laurentian Consensus, Tony Burman of the Star and Simpson of the Globe, all fail to deal with Hamas, ” the camel in the room”. This is a terrorist organization that rules by violence and intimidation. There is no democracy, (Read more…)
Few things make me angrier than the propensity of the far right to twist things. In today’s speech to Israel’s Knesset, we find this lovely little gem:
“A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history,” he said.
“That is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening.”
Harper allowed that criticism of Israeli government policy isn’t in and of itself “necessarily anti-Semitic.”
When it comes to matters of Foreign Policy, Harper is neither subtle or particularly smart. As with all things in Harper’s world, it’s all about partisan position and absolutes.
Yesterday’s announcement of Vivian Bercovici’s appointment as Canada’s new ambassador to Israel fits that pattern exactly.
Ms. Bercovici is one of those who is completely uncritical of the regime in Israel, and about as nuanced as Harper himself in her musings on the subject. In a Jan. 28, 2013, column in the Toronto Star, Bercovici praises Netanyahu and criticizes Palestinian leaders.
“Many western governments, judging from their comments, hold (Read more…)
Yesterday, Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women spoke on the recent decision for Canada to restrict funding related to War Rape and Forced Marriage victims to organizations and programs that exclude abortion. As a pediatric surgeon, she said she’s confident Canada has chosen to target its aid where it will do the most good.
“We have to pick a targeted area, where we’re going to be able to have an impact,” Leitch said in a phone interview from New York.
“As a physician, I’m very confident in saying that we have chosen the right one, that pre- (Read more…)
Since 2006, Harper has repeatedly “refused” to open the abortion debate in Canada … or at least so he claims.
But then again, there’s the old saw about “actions speak louder than words”. Once again, the Harper Government has taken actions which very clearly articulate where they stand. On Huffington Post, the headline reads “Tories Won’t Fund Overseas Projects Allowing Abortion For War Rape, Child Brides“ International Development Minister Christian Paradis says the government will not fund overseas projects that allow war rape victims and child brides to obtain an abortion.
But Paradis says the government’s policy would (Read more…)
Once again, we find The Harper Government (which, I am more and more convinced is not a Canadian government), squabbling over the UN’s initiatives to review Canada’s treatment of our Aboriginal population. Countries have their rights records reviewed every four years by the Geneva-based UN forum, but the Harper government has been skeptical of it in part because it allows countries with dubious rights records to criticize Canada.
Recommendations from Iran, Sri Lanka and Cuba were among the 40 out of 162 that Canada chose to reject.
Frankly, Canada’s relationship with its Aboriginal peoples is less than ideal, and arguably (Read more…)
Here, on how Canada’s federal privacy law actually prohibits our own federal government from conducting secret surveillance (so long as it’s actually followed) – as well as how little that law means if countries don’t recognize that privacy applies beyond their borders.
For further reading…- Michelle Shepard reported here on Canada’s history of surveillance activities. – The federal Privacy Act is here. See in particular section 11′s obligation to public lists of personal information collected by each government institution, as well as the treatment of exempt data banks in section 18. – CSEC allows Canadians to (Read more…)
Until yesterday, I suspect very few Canadian outside of the airlines industry actually knew that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN organization which promotes regulation of international air travel, had its headquarters in Montreal. Some more Canadians probably know it is today, and, as you probably know, the Harper government is trying to make it a cause celebre in their campaign to discredit the “international community” and, increasingly, to isolate Canada from the outside world.
This is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. It’s very unlikely that ICAO will actually relocate to Qatar, which has put (Read more…)
The NDP’s position on trade policy has of course been a hot-button issue both inside and outside the party – making it the area I’d see needing some discussion in Montreal. And while a number of other resolutions deal with the issue, one offers a particularly neat means to add an explicit commitment to the bigger picture while allowing for the approval of reasonable trade agreements (and avoiding unnecessary modifications to what’s already a well-worded section of the policy book). 4-21-13Resolution on Unfair Trade Practices Submitted by Beaches-East YorkBE IT RESOLVED the following clause be added to Section
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: #mtlqc13 Priority Resolution – International Affairs
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Lori Theresa Waller provides her own take on the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights’ study on labour rights and inequality: In the 1970s, all provinces used the simple card check system, whereby an employer must legally recognize a union if the majority of workers sign membership cards. Since then, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia have moved to requiring that workplaces also hold a vote before the union will be legally recognized.
…Studies have found that the additional requirement of holding a vote decreases the success of union organizing drives
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links
This and that for your Thursday reading.
- Edward Greenspon discusses the importance of a public service whose focus extends beyond the narrow interests of the government of the day: The hundreds of thousands of Canadians who work for governments, particularly those employed – in the evolving argot of recent decades – as knowledge workers or symbolic analysts or members of the creative class, are, in a sense, servants. They owe a duty of loyalty to carry out the programs and policies of the elected government of the day. But they also have a broader public duty to the pursuit . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links
When it comes to trying to justify perpetually-increasing restrictions on democratic governance in the guise of “free trade” agreements, advocates present two polar opposite views as to what such agreements are intended to accomplish.
The first – and more plausible – view of the actual and intended effect of trade agreements is that they primarily serve the purposes of the parties who push and negotiate them. When corporate interests and their pet Randians meet behind closed doors to draft agreements which will be subject to zero public accountability, it’s a safe bet that it’s the general public which stands to
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On unbalanced trade
Assorted content to end your Family Day.
- Gerald Caplan comments that it’s long past time to put the Senate out of its misery: Who knew that when well-known Canadians in 2011 begged old acquaintances now turned Conservative Senators to back a bill for cheap generic AIDS drugs for Africa, the senators would follow party orders instead? The bill had passed the House in the face of opposition by Stephen Harper’s minority government. Even many Conservative MPs supported it. Yet the Conservative majority in the Senate made sure it failed.…(T)here they were deliberately thwarting the wishes of the democratically
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Afternoon Links
By Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, Feb. 14, 2013: Those of us who live in Ottawa are quite used to the talk and sightings of Zombies on Parliament Hill. Today was different. It all started with the NDP‘s outspoken Winnipeg MP, Pat Martin, asking Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird if he’s “working with his American counterparts to develop READ MORE
Much as I generally promote open access to information, I’m starting to come around to the idea that the Cons should feel free to apply a “national security” exemption to pretty much any information about their decision-making. After all, if anybody around the globe knew exactly what they’re dealing with in the Cons, Canada would all too likely be a second-rate protectorate of Burundi within a week.