Yves Engler on Stephen Harper’s humanitarian award

At a ceremony in New York City on Thursday (September 27), the NY-based Appeal of.

At a ceremony in New York City on Thursday (September 27), the NY-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation will present Stephen Harper with its World Statesman Of The Year award, honouring him as a “leader of integrity who has earned the respect of his people for his commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights and peace.” [briefbreak]

What’s this? Sorry, but far from being a world statesman, Harper has shown a distaste for multilateral diplomatic forums. In fact, he’s designed Canadian foreign policy to please the most reactionary, short-sighted sectors of the Conservative party’s base: evangelical Christian Zionists, extreme right-wing Jewish leaders, Islamophobes and the military-industrial complex, not to mention mining and oil executives.

Harper’s foreign policy is responsible for a long list of global crimes. His government was complicit with coups in Honduras and Paraguay, supported Israel’s bombing of Gaza and Lebanon and deployed troops rather than our Heavy Urban Search and Rescue teams to post-earthquake Haiti.

Additionally, Harper has repeatedly expressed support for controversial Canadian mining operations and has blocked efforts to have Ottawa regulate mining corporations’ behaviour abroad.

The Conservatives have made Canadian society much more militaristic by increasing the Canadian Forces budget, size and cultural standing, and the PM continues to deploy 1,000 soldiers in Afghanistan as well as special forces despite the fact that most Canadians want to bring the troops home.

Another element of Harper’s bad foreign policy regards the climate. With hundreds of thousands already dying annually in poor countries due to climate disturbances, the pro-tar-sands Conservatives have lobbied aggressively against international efforts to curtail carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Similarly, Harper withdrew Canada from the Kyoto Protocol and has blocked progress on setting minimally serious targets for reducing CO2 emissions.

Canada has repeatedly been crowned by civil society organizations with the “colossal fossil” at international climate negotiations for being “the country that has done the most day after day to prevent a climate treaty.” That’s the only award our prime minister deserves.

Oh, and by the way, former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, he of the vicious 1973 Chilean coup, will present our PM with the Appeal of Conscience prize.

Yves Engler is the author of The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy (Fernwood).


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