Canto 7: Foreign Policy

ELECTION FEATURE by Nathan Raine

Cerberus, monster cruel and uncouth, With his three gullets like a dog is barking Over the people that are there submerged. Red eyes he has, and unctuous beard and black, And belly large, and armed with claws his hands; He rends the spirits, flays, and quarters them. Dante Alighieri, Inferno

Can the horrors and hell fire of Harper’s Inferno be confined within our own borders? Of course not! Harper, in his 9 circles, err, nine years in office, has had a less than admirable record in foreign policy and affairs.

Where to even start? Perhaps with the scariest partnerships Harper has made: China. When elected in 2006, Harper criticized China’s human right record and vowed not to sink Canadian values to their level simply for “the almighty dollar”. Then, sink he did.  Harper allowed the Chinese oil company CNOOC to buy the Calgary resource company Nexen for an ‘almighty dollar’ amount of $15 billion.

Canada-U.S, relations haven’t exactly been chummy. Harper promised during his 2006 election campaign to improve relations with the U.S., but relations with President Obama have been tepid. Obama refuses to approve of the Keystone pipeline, and Harper has closed many Canadian consulates in the U.S.

Reports say that phone lines between the an American President and Canadian PM have never been so quiet.

One way Harper has likened himself to the U.S. is with his fondness for war. Harper extended Canada’s occupancy in the war in Afghanistan for the first six years of his tenure. In those years, the military budget increased from $15 billion to $23 billion.

Harper has also had his nose in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Harper has been a staunch supporter of Israel, labeling Palestinians as “terrorists”. In 2012, Canada was the only one of nine countries in the UN to vote against Palestine achieving their own state.

But Harper doesn’t always disdain Muslims. Sometimes they have money, after all. In 2014, the Harper Government signed its largest ever arms export deal, $14.8 million, to supply armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia —a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world.

So what’s with all this war stuff? Isn’t Canada supposed to be one of the globe’s greatest peacekeepers? Well, in 2010, for the first time in history, Canada lost a vote at the United Nations to become a member of the Security Council. In addition, Canada was once the number one provider in the world of peacekeeping personnel. Under Harper? Canada has now fallen to an abysmal 68th on the UN’s peacekeeping contributors list. And this comes at a time when UN peacekeeping is at an all-time high.

Seriously, Rwanda is higher on the list than we are. By only about 50 times more peacekeepers.

Harper has also been panned for his policies on refugees and asylum seekers. His government not only denies them healthcare, but takes pride in detaining and deporting many of the “bogus” refugees. In the current refugee crisis, less than 2,000 Syrian refugees have been processed in the past year and a half, using security concerns as reasons to keep out many seeking asylum.

But Harper must’ve done something good in the last nine year, right? At the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Harper did tell Putin to “get out of Ukraine”. So we have that.

Canto 8: Civil Liberties

2015-10-01