Stephen Harper, in poking a finger in the eye of the United Nations, by refusing to "dance" with them, on the very week when all member states are invited to speak to the world, on the biggest platform on the planet, insults not only the United Nations as an institution but also Canada and the Canadian people.
Pundits claim that, by refusing to accept the UN invitation to speak to the General Assembly, he is really pandering to his electoral base, a parochial, narrow-minded, head-in-the-sand, reactionary cult
of fundamental neo-cons in politics, religion, economics. As a group, and as a government, they both despise academia, academic research, fact-based policy decisions, and all forms of social assistance. As a group and as a government, they believe in the supremacy of corporate power and profit, they believe in and practice the mantra of "economic opportunity and job creation" while doing very little to enhance either goal, economic growth or job creation.
As a government, they have spent $50+ millions touting their own horn throughout their time in government, in a perpetual, insistent and highly annoying (not to mention the highly questionable use of public funds) advertising campaign blatantly, unabashedly and unashamedly advertising their government's perpetual job creation programs, without actually putting meat on the bones of those programs.
In snubbing the United Nations, certainly not for the first, or probably the last time, Harper has effectively taken himself, and through him, Canada, and the Canadian voice, out of any substantive conversation over Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Russia and also any future conversations about global initiatives on climate change and global warming. By bullishly (both fiscally and physically) promoting the infamous tar sands dirty oil project, according to some international observers, Harper has turned Canada into another petro state, and the Canadian dollar into a mere petro dollar.
Canada lost her previously normal seat on the Security Council, when the last vote for new members was taken, and there is considerable evidence that Harper's government, and from the perspective of those countries casting ballots, Canada is now outside the acceptable range of moderate and progressive tradition established over the last half century under both Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments. In other words, Canada under Harper is no longer a central, and coveted and admired actor on the international stage, and in "standing up" the UN by refusing to accept her invitation to the "annual dance" (incidentally the same week as the Clinton Global Initiative holds its annual meeting also in New York, where Harper could potentially also be invited to speak) Harper has demonstrated his lack of bona fides on the international stage, and all the huffing and puffing about being part of the international dialogue is just that, hot air coming out of Ottawa, probably enough, if captured to heat and light the capital city.
While Obama is assertively and even aggressively moving to cut carbon dioxide emissions on all new coal-fired power plants, through sequestration under ground of the toxic gas, Harper's government runs through Ministers of the Environment like Wal Mart does greeters. Not a single occupant of the Minister's office in that department has made a dent in establishing a credible environmental policy, (because Harper won't permit such initiative) and only environmental activists are alarmed, disgusted and revolted, while the national media dishes out pablum on the issue, much to the delight of Harper and his cronies.
While even Texas is abandoning it high rate of incarceration (albeit to save money) the Harper government is increasing sentences, building new prisons, and removing judicial discretion from too many criminal cases, by establishing minimum sentences, regardless of the circumstances.
While the world community is becoming conscious and politically sensitive to minority groups, the Harper government is accusing the Atawapiskat First Nations community of bad accounting while their people are living in absolute squalor, without clear drinking water, without access to quality medical care, and without job opportunities to stem the tide of social breakdown and the spike in suicides among First Nations populations. And Atawapiskat is only the tip of the iceberg, given that there are at least 100+ reservations in Canada, most of which live under conditions similar to if not worse than those on James Bay.
While the whole world is concentrating on new high technology planning and purchasing for cyber protection from potential conflict, the wave of the future, the Harper government is attempting to purchase more military hardware like ships, fighter jets and tanks.
As one Canadian sad about Harper's insularity and parochialism, I have to say that it is probably best he take a pass on the UN podium, given that he would have painted a rosy picture of the work of his government to an audience who have already written him and his government off in their deliberations, and in staying home, he spared Canada and Canadians the further embarrassment of another performance of dubious, if not downright swiss-cheese quality full of holes in both "getting in step with the world's program and mood, and in providing creative and courageous and visionary leadership for the many global issues facing all nations on the planet. If all Harper can talk about is trade, and making more money, he will naturally be out of step with the world's leaders who have to chew gum and walk and talk at the same time, to they cannot and must not be Johnny-one-notes as Harper is. So clearly he would not fit into such an international body of thinkers, learners, and leaders, and he undoubtedly knows as much. He also knows that his electoral core could care less about the United Nations, given their already permanent disdain of anything outside their own back yard. Canada is the prototype of the infamous NIMBY archetype, sadly and Harper and his government electoral base epitomize that archetype.