Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Canada as Seen from Sri Lanka: It Ain't Pretty

Those not on Twitter may have missed this absolutely fabulous thrashing of John Baird and Stephen Harper by Dr Kamal Wickremasinghe writing in the Daily News, 'Sri Lanka's National Newspaper since 1918'.

Titled 'Harper and Baird should clean their own backyard before coming to CHOGM', it will warm the cockles of your heart while demonstrating how bloody low Canada has sunk in the world's opinion.

You should read the whole thing, but I'll excerpt some good bits.
The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Foreign Minister John Baird are leading the charge against Sri Lanka as the venue for this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November. The language used by Harper and Baird, including references to “evil” and “appalling”, seems quite out of proportion to the significance of CHOGM as an international gathering, as well as its utility to Sri Lanka as perceived by Sri Lankans.

The snarling of the two men carry no weight because both have little credibility - Stephen Harper has never managed to win a national election in Canada in his own right, and resorts to the anti-democratic practice of proroguing whenever he is about to face difficult questions in Parliament; Baird is a buffoon, a former provincial politician and ‘wannabe’ future leader of the Conservatives trying to achieve his aim by kow-towing to the monied Israeli lobby in Canada. The two men, not known for their intelligence or subtlety in international affairs, are the butt of jokes among the Canadian media and bureaucracy.
(There was some chat on Twitter about what the good doctor meant by 'Harper has never managed to win a national election in Canada in his own right'. Does he know about Pierre Poutine? Or he is referring to the 'strong, stable, 39% majority'?)

So what has the Sri Lankans in such fine fettle? A little snit PMSHithead pulled at the last CHOGM.
Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper walked out of the summit during its last day when Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was invited to speak. He also had threatened to boycott the 2013 CHOGM summit, scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka, if allegations of human rights abuses against the country's Tamil minority were not investigated.
From a couple of days ago:
Canadian foreign minister John Baird said Sri Lanka must launch an investigation into allegations of war crimes at the end of the country's civil war.

He said the Commonwealth is "accommodating evil" by affording Sri Lanka hosting duties and the nation has failed to live up to Commonwealth values of democracy, the rule of law and good governance
Which Dr Wickremasinghe finds a bit rich.
The bigger joke however, is the ridiculous attempt by Harper and Baird to assign some sort of global human rights guardianship to a remnant of colonialism like the so-called Commonwealth that represents a litany of mass murders, rape and dispossession of indigenous peoples throughout the world between the 16th and mid-20th centuries.

Harper’s and Baird’s attempts to assume leadership on human rights protection despite Canada’s disgraceful record of treatment of Indigenous peoples of that country is a subsidiary joke.

In fact, a look at the reasons behind the feigned fury of Harper and Baird over Sri Lanka last week shows that it is an attempt to divert attention from the international scrutiny of continuing human rights violations of the Indigenous peoples of Canada that began on April 26 at the UNHRC, under the second universal periodic review (UPR) of Canada.

The world has called the bluff of Canada’s self-righteous posturing as a country committed to protect human rights globally, by questioning the facts on their own treatment of the original owners of Canada being reported to the UNHRC - Russia expressed alarm over Canada’s “Police actions of torture and cruelty against peaceful demonstrators and China complained of “widespread racial discrimination in Canada.”

North Korea, perhaps mockingly, expressed serious concerns about “continued violations of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, torture and other ill-treatment, racism and xenophobia” in Canada; Iran did likewise by referring to “child sexual exploitation and trafficking, the right to food, and discriminatory laws against Indigenous people and minority groups including Muslims, Arabs and African communities”; Egypt complained of “racial profiling of Muslims in law-enforcement action”; Cuba was concerned with “racism and xenophobia” in Canada.
There's much more, including First Nations appeals to the UNHRC, Canada's failure to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, violence against FN women and girls -- the 600 murdered and missing women are mentioned -- and so on.

A damning litany.

But the real fun is in the personal attacks..
John Baird is a walking, mumbling disaster

Harper’s Foreign Minister friend John Baird is a caricature of the loud-mouthed, incompetent, under-qualified politician the people in Western countries have come to despise - he “shoots from the hip” often, displaying appalling levels of insensitivity and tact, about matters relating to Israel in particular.

He also broke Canada’s Official Languages Act requirement of adherence to bilingual communication by government officials when he printed separate English and French language business cards.

While visiting Israel in February 2012, Baird affirmed Canada’s support for Israel’s extremist Likud Party’s opposition to Palestinian statehood. In September he announced the sudden closure of Canada’s embassy in Tehran and the expelling of all Iranian diplomats from Canada - from an APEC conference in Russia. Baird’s actions were praised by the war-hungry Benjamin Netanyahu who described them as “bold leadership.”

In April, Baird broke with the long-standing protocol of foreign officials not meeting Israeli counterparts in East Jerusalem, declared by the UN as occupied Palestinian land, when he met with Israeli politician Tzipi Livni at her East Jerusalem offices.

In November 2011, activists on board the Canadian Boat to Gaza outraged by Baird’s defence of the Israeli forces who had assaulted them told media that “If Minister Baird wants to put the interests of Israeli government before Canadians, he should apply for the job of Israel’s ambassador”.

Dr Wickremasinghe winds up:
Canada should clean its own backyard before preaching to Sri Lanka

As the UN Special Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter has pointed out, Canada can’t credibly preach human rights on the international stage when too many of its own citizens are going hungry, and Canada, would gain credibility only if it is irreproachable itself.
Canada could launch itself on the path by urgently attending to the following, before attending CHOGM -

· Adopt and fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples;

· Recognise and respect Aboriginal title and Aboriginal and treaty rights; end the policy of extinguishment; and repudiate the racist doctrines of Discovery and terra nullius;

· Stop criminalising Indigenous peoples for defending their rights; and

· Take action to investigate and end the ongoing murders and disappearances of Indigenous women.

Then we will consider welcoming Harper in Sri Lanka.

Oh, yes. In the immortal words of Prime Shithead himself: 'Canada is back in the bad books of the world'.

h/t CometsMum.


Anonymous said...

While admittedly the Conservatives have handled this file with their customary vulgarity and complete lack of finesse, it's important to note, as this Dr Wickremasinghe does not, that the current government of Sri Lanka is highly corrupt and implicit in serious war crimes. Here's some of what Amnesty International says on the subject (with much, much more here:http://www.amnesty.org/en/sri-lanka):

Impunity for crimes under international law:

The Sri Lankan government has so far completely failed to follow up in any credible way on domestic and international recommendations to investigate the alleged killings of thousands of civilians at the hands of the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE during the final months of the armed conflict.

Escalating attacks on government critics:
Despite the end to the armed conflict, the government has stepped up its crackdown on dissenting views in a bid to consolidate power. Those harassed, threatened or violently attacked include politicians, the judiciary, human rights defenders and journalists.

So while the Conservatives are handling the file pretty much like the courthouse politicians they are--i.e., they aren't fit for the world stage--they are at least right to take the unsavoury Sri Lankan government to task. Human Rights Watch, for instance, has also called for the CMAG (http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/24/sri-lanka-commonwealth-should-relocate-november-meeting)
to be moved, and it is right to do so.

It's important that when we rush to slag our adversaries that we understand that the enemy of our enemy isn't always our friend.

fern hill said...

Yes. Point taken.

Nonetheless, it is a splendid slagging and well-deserved whatever the source.

Remember Shithead saying straightfaced: 'Canada has no history of colonialism'?

The man is not fit to hold any public office in Canada with a delusion like that.

meadowlark said...

The U.N. Security Council requested Harper, to join 60 other country's, to refer Syria to ICC. They want to prosecute Syria for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Harper point blank refused. Harper was banned a seat, in the U.N. Security Council. Harper was livid.

ICC also, found Harper guilty of, stonewalling and blocking ICC's, investigation on the, torture of the Detainee's. Harper prorogued Parliament, to get away with his crimes, he didn't want to answer to.

ICC's Luis Moreno-Ocampo as Chief Prosecutor, was to prosecute Harper for, war crimes and crimes against humanity as well.

At every meeting of Nations? Harper always manages to insult, and anger every country present. They detest Harper's bullying and his hissy fits, when he doesn't get his own way. Besides Sri Lanka, Harper also insulted Columbia, regarding the death of Chavez. Harper insulted India. Harper had angered some European country's. He gave them false statements regarding, the toxicity of the tar oil. Harper was no hit in, Copenhagen, Durban nor Davos either.

The very worst yet? Harper is handing Canada to Communist China, on a silver platter. To me that is being, a Traitor to Canada.

Scotian said...

While Tom Sangfroid raises a very valid and important point, it also underscores something else, namely how Harper has managed to place us in a position internationally where not only can such take us to task but will actually be seen as having more (or at least as much) credibility on the issue as Canada. While under prior governments our record in dealing with our aboriginal community is less than stellar (yes, I know, serious understatement, I've always considered how we have treated our aboriginal populace the great disgrace of Canadian history/culture/society) the Harper regime has gone to what can only be described as an active state of war against them. From the moment he first took office as PM aboriginals have faced something far worse than the old indifference to their plight (except when they did face outright hostility/opposition because of a specific point of contention) from the head of government in this country, they have now someone in office who literally sees them as an active problem to be eliminated, IOW something that cannot be compared to anything less recent than the days of when residential schools for the cultural genocide was still seen as wise policy.

I know for his defenders this will seem as just another hyperbolic attack on Harper's "good name" by a rabid hater, but I stopped caring a long time ago about what his defenders think, they clearly choose to not live in the reality based world and I no longer have any time or patience for such that refuse to live here in reality, as ugly and dark as it can be, especially when we must face the ugliness that exists on our side of things. It is easy to do so when it isn't yours, it is when you are willing to face it when it works with/for you and call it out then that shows whether you really are willing to live in reality IMHO, whether we are talking politics or anything else. Indeed, it was the increasing unwillingness to deal with reality that first started me to have real concerns about modern NA conservativism and the threat it posed to all those that were not its adherents, in many ways the CPC under Harper reminds me too much of religious cults, indeed a truly terrifying comparison that has long been in my mind about Harper's CPC is to Scientology in terms of how they operate, especially against those that do not share their beliefs or worse used to but then broke free to tell the truth, but that is another whole comment/post.

This nation, while it did not commit the military acts of genocide against its aboriginal cultures as many others did including our southern neighbours, did clearly attempt cultural genocide and alas managed to accomplish most of what they were trying to do in terms of destroying aboriginal culture and society. Not to mention managing to inculcate belief in far too many Canadians about how aboriginals just want handouts and a free ride when they try to have their treaty rights recognized, not understanding that the reason aboriginals have such distrust to contempt for Canada and Canadians is how in this area we collectively have almost totally ignored our side of the contracts that these treaties represented, and to this day far too many fail to recognize that a treat is the same thing as a contract and deserves the same respect when it is between aboriginals and the government as it does when it is any other segment of our society, especially middle class white folks. So yes, while we need to remember where Sri Lanka's record is concerned when we listen to their comments here we also need to recognize our own, and not just the most recent horror show under Harper but our longer term record on this issue, on this one we truly are in a glass house, not that such excuses just how much worse Harper and his CPC are making things with both their attitudes and of course their actions/inactions to the detriment of the aboriginal community of Canada.

It is a disgrace on us all.

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