Canadian News & Politics
Harper at the Summit:
Principle trumps pandering
by Beryl Wajsman, Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal
Sunday, October 1, 2006
"Stephen Harper is raising a bright, new dawn for this nation. And it is to be hoped that the brilliant rays of its light will burn off the stagnating smog that has been a protective cloak over the bodyguard of lies under which Canadians have lived far too long. Let us not forget that power is never preceded by conditional adjectives. Power is not a toy for children. It is a force a people take and use as a shield for the innocent and a staff for the just. It is not dependant on numbers. It is dependant only on energy and daring. The message of the past few weeks is clear. We Canadians --who in two World Wars over the past century sacrificed more sons and daughters than even America in proportion to population to assure the survival and success of liberty - are back. And we've got clout!"
A remarkable thing happened on the last day of "la Francophonie" summit in Bucharest. Canada threw its weight around. And won. After years of hearing government after government lie to us that our "middle" power status afforded us no other role than "nuanced" and "balanced" positions in foreign affairs, Stephen Harper showed we can play with the big boys. He stood up to France, Egypt and a host of others, and proved that principle beats pandering. For perhaps the first time in a generation there is a political will breathing life into those words in our national anthem that we are "the true north strong and free".
True to what is right. Strong in our resolve. Free of the chains of moral relativism and political equivalency. This Prime Minister continues to lead us to a new rendezvous with destiny that if we do not keep will condemn this country to an eternal irrelevance mired in moral turpitude.
The Summit was thrown into a tizzy when Mr. Harper refrained from taking his seat at what was supposed to be the closing news conference because of his opposition to an Egyptian-led, and French supported, resolution expressing concern and sympathy for Lebanese civilian victims of the recent Middle East War, without mentioning Israeli civilian victims of the naked aggression launched from Lebanese soil that precipitated the conflict. French President Jacques Chirac argued that our Prime Minister's position flew in the face of "the great majority" of the 53 member states at the conference. With typical French hypocrisy Chirac never said Harper was wrong. The implication was that it was not "expedient". And for the French, expediency trumps morality any day of the week.
But as the diplomats scurried frenzily around trying to figure out what to do in the face of conscience and character, rare commodities in their world, Stephen Harper stood his ground. While television cameras zoomed in on Canada's empty chairs at the semi-circled conference table, the Prime Minister announced, with his trademarked calm, determined eloquence, that "The Francophonie cannot recognize victims according to their nationality. Recognize the victims of Lebanon and the victims of Israel." Remarkable. No double-talk. No diplomatic babble-squawk. No eye on focus groups. Just plain-speaking, as President Harry Truman would have said.
Despite Lebanese Culture Minister Tarek Mitri's childish whine that "Everyone aggress except Canada, "all leaders headed back into closed-door session and eventually agreed to "deplore the consequences for all civilian populations". Even the churlish French and the neutral Swiss finally supported Stephen Harper's position. For one brief shining moment Canada was the world's conscience. Albert Camus was right. In this world merely "...being human is already being heroic..." And Canada finally has a Prime Minister who is very human and very heroic.
We need not be surprised. From his first week in office Stephen Harper has set out a bold vision for Canada in the world restoring our national pride and purpose. Upon the election of a Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority he ordered a cut in aid until it renounced violence and recognized Israel. He bravely went to Kandahar and announced Canadians do not "cut and run" and put everyone on notice that this nation would shoulder our share of the burden in engagement in democratic development abroad standing firmly with our traditional allies in the family of free nations. Prime Minister Harper was the first western leader to call for the arrest of Sa'ed Mortazavei - the Iranian prosecutor who tortured Montreal photojournalist Zarah Khazemi to death - when he was sent as the official Iranian observer to meetings of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
And in the most courageous speech ever given by a Canadian leader at the United Nations, he made clear that Canada would not stand idly by while liberty was compromised. That Canadians as a people understand that this current war on terror is a litmus test of western civilization's ability to endure and flourish, and we will not be broken by adversity, nor demoralized by the blood spilled in evil's wake.
The only stains on this land in recent weeks have been the words of nullification and interposition from the nattering nabobs who make up the leadership of "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition". From the flapping jaw of Liberal leader Bill Graham, to the twitching mustache of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" Layton, to the wild-eyed stares of the Bloc Québecois' Gilles Duceppe all we hear--every week--are more code words for appeasement. It's almost as if they have the same ghost writer. In unison, each week, they call for a watering down of our national will. More "nuance" they say; more "proportionality" they whine; more "balance" they demand. They look like nothing more than the Heckel and Jeckel cartoon characters. Hyperactive kids badly in need of ritilin.
Robert Kennedy said in his declaration of candidacy for the Presidency of the United States in 1968 that, "I run not to oppose any man, but to propose new policies." Stephen Harper in opposition followed that dictum. He did not oppose merely for the sake of opposing or for the profit of a sound-bite. And he has carried over that integrity into his governance. Unlike his predecessor, it is unimaginable for this Prime Minister to call Mu'ammar Khaddafi a man "...with a philosophical bent of mind..." in order to secure a few oil exploration leases.
Stephen Harper is raising a bright, new dawn for this nation. And it is to be hoped that the brilliant rays of its light will burn off the stagnating smog that has been a protective cloak over the bodyguard of lies under which Canadians have lived far too long. Let us not forget that power is never preceded by conditional adjectives. Power is not a toy for children. It is a force a people take and use as a shield for the innocent and a staff for the just. It is not dependant on numbers. It is dependant only on energy and daring. The message of the past few weeks is clear. We Canadians --who in two World Wars over the past century sacrificed more sons and daughters than even America in proportion to population to assure the survival and success of liberty - are back. And we've got clout!
Beryl Wajsman is president of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal; publisher of BARRICADES Magazine; and host of Montreal 940AM’s "The Last Angry Man". He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and at email@example.com