The Humiliation of Canada Rant: Harper, Bush and The Bathetic Bali Balk
Hey all you fellow Canadians out there, as Bob Dylan once asked, how does it feel? How does it feel to have a government that is such a disgraceful embarrassment on the international stage? I mean, when your country's only real ally on a major issue is George W. Bush's America you've really got to stop and ask yourself just what the hell went wrong? And the answer, obviously, starts with the election of this Stephen Harper-led right-wing Bush-a-like government of ours two years ago. The only question now seems to be, just how far down do these jokers plan to drag us?
Whether it was opposing Apartheid back in the '80s, sponsoring the anti-landmine treaty in the '90s or staying out of Bush's debacle in Iraq earlier this decade, Canada has always had a pretty damn good reputation on the world stage... until now, that is.
First Harper shocked the world by having Canada take a stance of unqualified and unquestioning support for Israel in their bombing of Lebanon back in the summer of '06, as well as in their ongoing repression of the Palestinians. Then came our vote - one of only four - against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. But the real issue that seems to be defining us in the world's eyes these days is climate change and our government's strong determination to scuttle any meaningful deals, first at the Commonwealth Conference in Uganda in November and then again last week in Indonesia.
At the U.N. Climate Change Conference that just wrapped up in Bali on the weekend Canada and America were almost completely isolated as they did all they could to derail the talks. Though, it's true, we did also find ourselves in the company of Saudi Arabia and Russia from time to time as well. And what nice company that is!
The fact of the matter is this: With Australia turfing that seemingly-always-constipated John Howard dude (seriously, check out any video clip of the guy), Canada now stands side by side with the Bush Administration as the only industrialized nations opposing binding targets and, therefore, any real action on climate change.
Furthermore, now that Australia has finally signed on to the Kyoto Accord, America is the only industrialized country to not have signed up to the treaty... while Canada is the only country to have openly given up trying to reach its targets.
Our country's reputation is being dragged through the mud here people, and it's getting pretty hard to watch. With Blair and Howard both gone, it would appear that Harper sees himself filling the void and taking over the role of Bush's Best Buddy. Mighty charitable of him too, considering the devastation done to Blair's reputation after betting everything - his prestige, reputation, legacy, and more - on his passionate belief in Bush's infallibility (still an incredibly baffling move when you think about it).
From America, particularly under this Bushwacko regime, we've come to expect opposition to just about every significant, meaningful and important international treaty, whether it be Kyoto, the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines, the International Criminal Court, etc., etc., but on all those treaties, and others, Canada has always taken not only a positive approach but also a leadership role. Not anymore. Not since we got ourselves a right-wing wacko government of our very own.
Watching Harper do everything he can to scuttle any meaningful agreements on climate change is hard, but, really, it's not all that surprising. After all, this is the same guy, and political party, that passionately opposed Kyoto right from the very start and, at least until earlier this year when he/they realized it was hurting them badly in the polls, simply seemed to be ignoring the whole climate change issue in the hope it would eventually just go away.
But, even though it hasn't gone away, you've got to hand it to these Conservative Bush Wannabes, because they certainly do stand by their principles. They may pay lip service to the issue these days, but they sure as hell aren't going to be forced into taking it seriously. They simply do... not... care. In their minds, there are simply far too many other important issues to deal with, issues such as eliminating the national childcare plan, scrapping the Kelowna Accord deal with the country's Natives, gutting the national gun registry and relaunching the ever-so-important War On Pot. These guys are clearly too busy to deal with trivial matters such as climate change!
And, you know, I wouldn't mind so much if they'd just come right out and honestly state what they so clearly believe. Like this: "Screw the future generations, what have they ever done for us? Let's all get richer NOW! This Commie environmentalism crap sure ain't gonna help get you that vacation home by the water and that third family SUV, but we will... with our brand new tax cut."
As for south of the border, it should be remembered that early on in his first term this "Leader of The Free World" guy (Dubya) said he wouldn't sign any piece of environmental legislation that cost the country even one job. I mean, really, what a dickhead! All resources necessary can be found to fight these Wars on Terror and Drugs, but a coming global climate catastrophe that is going to cause the world far more harm than any terrorist ever could simply can't be tackled if it costs even one job? Is this guy for real?
No matter what they may claim, Christianity is clearly not the true religion of these so-called Christian Conservative jokers, it's just something they use whenever politically advantageous. Their true religion, obviously, is The Almighty Buck. "Nothing to hurt the economy", they blather away, no matter that the world is headed for disaster.
It's like fighting over the best seats as the theater burns to the ground. Or battling over the best access to the water supply as it becomes permanently poisoned and undrinkable. Or marrying Pam Anderson. Future generations will look back at these short term thinkin', short sighted, short of any real common sense idiots and wonder how they were allowed to get away with this insanity. But ultimately, of course, we, the voting public, will be held responsible. Well, at least the 37% who voted for Harper and co. and the 51% who voted to re-elect Bush and Dick.
For this sort of inaction on such an important issue it's easy to blame democracy itself, what with it's emphasis on the next election, the 4-year term, and the present rather than the future, but really that's just a cop out. A leader with even the slightest bit of vision and passion for the future could and should easily champion a strong course of action. Which is, of course, exactly what you've got happening over there in many European countries.
Blame China and India
Yes, after we in the industrialized world have caused 90% of the world's environmental damage up to this point, it seems, at least if you listen to Bush and Harper, that the real problem isn't us at all, it's China and India. That's right, China and India, not the Western Industrialized countries of the world who've spent 150 years pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the environment.
Obviously the world needs China and India on board eventually, but doing nothing right now because they are perhaps not doing enough is simply ridiculous. And, besides, after becoming extremely rich while polluting the world non-stop all these years, it's a bit preposterous for us to say to countries that are still in many ways extremely poor that they now have to agree to all the same restrictions as us.
I mean, anyone who has traveled around China or India recently (not just the rich areas of the rich cities) - and therefore knows that the vast majority of people in both countries live on a few dollars a day and that both countries, though growing fast, are nowhere near reaching developed status - would understand what a joke it is to ask them to accept the idea that we're all equally responsible for this environmental mess.
Even worse is telling the Chinese and Indians to get their shit together when we here in Canada are much much worse polluters, per capita, then they are. It's just plain hypocritical and ridiculous. The simple reality is that, on a per capita basis, China's greenhouse gas emissions are one sixth of those that we produce here in North America. It is we who are the worst contributors to greenhouse gas pollution on the planet! So let's stop claiming we can't do anything until other countries first agree to our terms and, more importantly, let's stop being the biggest dicks in the world on this issue. Because, really, it's a bit like Saudi Arabia lecturing us on women's rights. Yeah, I'm talkin' asinine.
But sadly I don't think we can hold out much hope in Harper suddenly changing his tune and becoming all rational and reasonable about this, not with him considering Europe (and Canada for that matter) a bastion of socialism and America, and it's hard-right movement, his greatest inspiration. Here's how he put it in a speech a few years back: "America, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world". Obviously, far from feeling embarrassed about Canada's present isolated position on the world stage, I'd guess that Harper is reveling in this new partnership with Bush, or, as I like to call it, this Axis of Idiocy.
Remember this is the same guy, this prime minister of ours, who said, just a few short years ago, that "Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations".
He's also the same guy who said this about his own country:
"Canada is content to become a second-tier socialist country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services, to mask its second-rate status".
Well, one thing's for sure, he's certainly doing a great job of dragging us down a tier or two in the eyes of the world. But, to him, they - the rest of the world - are all just a bunch of socialists who, like those whiny future generations, have never done anything for us anyway and, therefore, deserve nothing but our contempt. Which, sadly, is exactly what we can expect him to continue to show them.
It's depressing, but we can't let this harebrained Harper humiliator get us too down. We just have to remember to follow Monty Python's sage advice and always look on the bright side of life, which in this case is pretty easy. Bright thought: Luckily Harper and co. weren't in power back in 2003 or else Canada would have almost certainly been part of that criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Even brighter thought: At least he only has a minority government. Can you imagine if he had a majority and was thus able to unleash his true ideas and policies on the country... and the world? When you look at it that way things are indeed quite bright and positive right now. Humiliation and embarrassment on the world stage notwithstanding.
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Tuesday, December 18th, 2007