Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Sense Of Pride

More fallout from Canada's failure to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada's international reputation has never been stronger:

In fact, documents released to Amnesty International under the Access to Information Act show that the government fought the declaration despite advice from its own officials in Foreign Affairs, Indian Affairs and National Defence, all of them urging its support...

While the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have also expressed concerns, Canada has become "the prominent opponent to the declaration," says Les Malezer, chairman of the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus. The group co-ordinates input at the UN from seven global regions...

Canada's strident opposition to the declaration is a "crime" that flies in the face of Ottawa's avowed desire to promote democracy, says Joseph Ole Simel, co-ordinator of the African Regional Indigenous Caucus.

Jennifer Preston, program co-ordinator with the Quaker aboriginal affairs committee, has watched the process unfold for the last six years.

"I think a lot of states were deeply disappointed by Canada's behaviour," she said from Toronto. "I think they expect better from Canada at the UN.

"The fact that Canada chose to team up with the Russian Federation and Colombia on this – it's not what one would hope for on a human rights issue."

The really sad part, Canada used to be a primary player in many of the United Nations initiatives. Now, all we hear about is Canada the pariah, Canada the underminer, Canada the watered down, Canada the obstacle. It amounts to a real disconnect between the Harper rhetoric of "Canada is back" and the sense that Canada is increasing out of touch with prevailing views.

Tonight, Stephen Harper delivers a key speech at the APEC Summit, which Conservatives will clearly tout as another example of our positive role in the world. Hot air aside, when it comes to actual substance and real initiatives, Canada isn't "back", it's really "backward".

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