Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Canada is not, never was, and never will be a "corporation"

The document makes scant mention of Canada's traditional roles as peacemakers in war zones like Afghanistan, foreign aid providers in disasters such as Haiti, and everywhere represented by a highly respected diplomatic corps.
It also drops any pretense of using trade deals to pressure countries such as China on human rights and other matters of democratic principle.
On the contrary: "To succeed we will need to pursue political relationships in tandem with economic interests even where political interests or values may not align."
Instead, the draft doctrine is mainly about money, recasting Canada's international role from aiding the world's needy to reaping its riches.
(From "Secret document details new Canadian foreign policy" by Greg Weston, CBC News website, November 19, 2012, excerpted below)
There are simplifications, and then there are Harper simplifications. If you cannot or will not attempt to comprehend and face the complex details, including the many nuances, of foreign policy, then turn the government into just another "corporation" buying and selling goods and services, as if your voters were nothing more than investors/workers/serfs to your board of directors of the corporation.
With foreign policy now an instrument for the sales department, along with immigration, and the arctic, this government will stand for little more than a balance sheet of balance of payments, with little or no thought for human rights, for peace keeping, for foreign aid and third world education. And while each of these important files needs money to spend, the "ROI" is always less than a corporate board of directors would demand, given both the long-term measurement of such indices and the much more abstract and ill-defined "benefits".
Everyone could see the writing on the wall about this government's approach to the permanent campaign, the permanent "sell themselves" with their uber-budget for self promotion. Witness the "Action Plan" ads still running years after the program was announced and presumably shelved, in order to keep the benefits of the government firmly in the voters' minds.
A valueless government, committed to maximizing profits for Canadians will neither monitor nor shape nor nudge nor influence values of individuals, groups, workers, women and children, in countries where those people are being treated most contemptuously. It will also deepen the divide between the haves and the have-nots already widening to the breaking point globally, and nationally. It will also redefine the long-term definition of being Canadian, leaving the artistic, diplomatic, historic and cultural aspects of our national life and identity off the table, as if government has no business in those spheres. It will also move to reduce first, and then potentially eliminate the safety net in order to show that this government "knows the interests of Canadians and protects them" just as they are doing with the "tough on crime" policy, spending millions to build new prisons, increasing sentences and omitting and overlooking any attempt at rehabilitation.
Encouraging only those immigrants who present with documentation for professional and technical skills, and pursuing the arctic policy in a manner dedicated to the corporation's profit and loss statement, just as in foreign policy, will turn the international reputation of Canada into a laughing stock, an embarrassment just when the world faces potential clashes of interests between various religious groups and attempts to replace what has been known as democracy and international law with sharia law and Islamic states.
We should be educating scholars in foreign affairs, international relations, international law, negotiating skills, mediation skills and community building skills....and not implementing policies that, at their core, reduce the world's complexities to the pursuit of profit, and the avoidance of loss, in purely economic terms.
Secret document details new Canadian foreign policy

By Greg Weston, CBC News website, November 19, 2012
A confidential government document obtained by CBC News warns the Harper government has been slow to open new markets in Asia, leaving Canada firmly tied to the troubled U.S. economy for a long time to come.
The document prepared by Foreign Affairs and dated Sept. 6 is a draft of a highly classified new "Canadian foreign policy plan" the Conservative government has been preparing for more than a year.
The draft briefing paper for the federal cabinet states: "We need to be frank with ourselves — our influence and credibility with some of these new and emerging powers is not as strong as it needs to be and could be.
"Canada's record over past decades has been to arrive late in some key emerging markets. We cannot do so in the future."
The Harper government itself took the slow road to China.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t visit Beijing for almost four years after first being elected in 2006.
Now the Harper government wants to focus Canada's international efforts primarily on one goal: forging new trade deals and business opportunities in the rapidly expanding markets of Asia and South America.
The draft plan for a new foreign policy states: "The situation is stark: Canada's trade and investment relations with new economies, leading with Asia, must deepen, and as a country we must become more relevant to our new partners."
The document makes scant mention of Canada's traditional roles as peacemakers in war zones like Afghanistan, foreign aid providers in disasters such as Haiti, and everywhere represented by a highly respected diplomatic corps.

It also drops any pretense of using trade deals to pressure countries such as China on human rights and other matters of democratic principle.
On the contrary: "To succeed we will need to pursue political relationships in tandem with economic interests even where political interests or values may not align."
Instead, the draft doctrine is mainly about money, recasting Canada's international role from aiding the world's needy to reaping its riches.
That's in stark contrast to Harper's views of China when he first came to office.
"I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide and we do that," the prime minister said in November, 2006. "But I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values, our belief in democracy, freedom, human rights. They don't want to sell that out to the almighty dollar."
Six years later, almost every aspect of the Harper government's international plan casts foreign policy as a tool to give Canada either direct economic benefit or access to China and other emerging markets.

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