...most of the Conservative approach is centred on angry assertions of simplistic moral absolutes that play well to certain domestic constituencies, but contribute nothing to the world or to unifying Canadians behind a positive vision of their place in it.
With issues such as Israel, Iran, religious freedom and more, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is not interested in what Canada can actually do to help in any modest way. It is interested in what bluster and noise it can make to impress a key domestic constituency that it hopes to attract or retain as part of its “base.” (Peter Jones, Canada’s bitter, small-minded foreign policy,
Globe and Mail, January 2, 2014, excerpted below)
Selling Canada out, on the foreign policy side, as well as on the domestic policy side, to a core political base it hopes will continue to elect it to power, can only be described as the most narrow and most narcissistic, not to mention short-sighted of forms of governance Canada could describe. It certainly has earned it, having given Harper a majority the last time we voted.
"Angry assertions of simplistic moral absolutes" not only contributes nothing to the world, it also does nothing to resolve the complex and disturbing social issues we face right here at home. Surrendering national parks, for the first time in Canadian history to the plight of development, walking away from environmental protection for the areas most impacted by the tar sands, walking away from open public commitments to engage with First Nations, after a period of front-page assaults by those same people, in order to remove the story from the public's consciousness,
walking away from the poor and the unemployed and the underemployed....while all the time shouting loud simplistic assertions (using public funds) about how they are creating jobs and underpinning a sound economy....these are not approaches that benefit Canadians.
We (Canada through our national government) have become a hollow monkey both on the world stage and at home, and the media, including the National Post, and the Globe and Mail, continue to render this government a "good" report card, all the while ignoring their major and toxic failures.
Canada’s bitter, small-minded foreign policy
By Peter Jones, Globe and Mail January 2, 2014
Peter Jones is an associate professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He is also an Annenberg distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
........Working to strengthen multilateral organizations, supporting the development of norms of conduct in international affairs and contributing to peace and good governance around the world are not simply “nice” things to do – a rules-based international order, expressed through an interlocking web of institutions and commitments, benefits Canada.
A predictable world order where things like trade and security play out according to rules (admittedly something observed more in the breach in many parts of the world) is a world in which smaller countries have a better chance of advancing their interests. This is quiet, patient, painstaking work that rarely generates headlines. Progress is incremental and measured in years. It is less emotionally satisfying to some than yelling at the world from the rooftops. But it makes a contribution, over time, to creating a world that serves Canada’s interests.
The Conservatives have stood this on its head. In making foreign policy a reflection of their domestic approach to governance – finding wedge issues with which to detach segments of the population and play to their fears and angers – the Conservatives have given us a bitter, small-minded foreign policy. There are a few notable exceptions, such as the promotion of gay rights internationally, but most of the Conservative approach is centred on angry assertions of simplistic moral absolutes that play well to certain domestic constituencies, but contribute nothing to the world or to unifying Canadians behind a positive vision of their place in it.
With issues such as Israel, Iran, religious freedom and more, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is not interested in what Canada can actually do to help in any modest way. It is interested in what bluster and noise it can make to impress a key domestic constituency that it hopes to attract or retain as part of its “base.”
Ironically, all of this undercuts what the Conservatives should recognize as an overriding foreign policy objective: good relations with the United States. For example, President Barack Obama’s administration currently has a tough job trying to both find a nuclear deal with Iran and promote compromise between Israelis and Palestinians. Both issues are key to avoiding wars in the Middle East in the next decade. The administration needs friends and allies who will quietly roll up their sleeves and help look for answers. What it gets from Canada is bluster and intransigence, as the Conservatives hew to the dictates of the Israeli right in hopes of securing votes in Canada.
Of course, Mr. Obama does not represent the totality of the U.S. political scene. In taking the views they do, the Conservatives are mirroring elements of the U.S. right, especially its Tea Party segment. But is this in Canada’s interests? Has anyone checked out the Tea Party’s views on things like protectionism and free trade recently? It would be a disaster for Canada if this faction ever came to power.
This drives home the central reality of Mr. Harper’s foreign policy: It is about his party’s short-term, narrowly defined domestic political interests. It is about negative campaigning and the politics of fear and division. The only good thing one can say (and it is a pretty damning indictment) is that the Conservatives have managed to make Canada so irrelevant to the key issues on the world stage that we can do little damage by taking these positions – except to ourselves.