Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Harper: Canada Leads by Example on World Stage

I saw part of Harper's question and answer session. He seemed to handle himself rather well, certainly much better than his close comrade Bush.
Of course we are leading by example by following or even leading the US. In Colombia we are leading the US in what Bush wants more trade relations with a regime that has a wretched human rights record. In climate change we are doing nothing to promote Kyoto and everything to take a third way consisting mostly of rhetorical hot air and little action, again a policy favored by the US as we play a crucial role in the US led Asia Pacific Partnership.
In Afghanistan again ,we along with other NATO countries, are helping out as junior partners in US imperialism. That internationally we are looked upon somewhat more kindly than the US makes us a perfect partner to help US foreign policy. In Afghanistan though Harper may face a tough sell in spite of his idealistic rhetoric since other NATO partners are sensible enough not to step up to the plate and put their forces in harm's way.

Canada leads by example on world stage, says PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | 9:59 PM ET
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised Canada as a country with growing influence on the world stage Tuesday, saying it promotes democracy and economic opportunity by tackling tough issues such as climate change and Afghanistan.
Notice that Canada has not had anything to say about the military tribunals in Guantanamo. He is concerned about Candian citizens in China but not in Guantanamo or even in Somalia.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers questions following his speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday in New York City.
(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)
Harper made the comments during a speech to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, an international think-tank dedicated to foreign policy issues around the world.

He said no country working on its own, even a superpower, can resolve complex global issues such as terrorism, climate change, and the spread of nuclear and biological weapons.

"Success requires middle powers who can step up to the plate and do their part," said Harper.

"Success demands governments who are willing to assume responsibilities, seek practical do-able solutions to problems, and who have a voice, an influence in global affairs because they lead not by lecturing but by example."

Harper praised Canada's military contribution in Afghanistan, where about 2,500 soldiers are deployed as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

"The stark reality is that there can be no progress in Afghanistan without security," he said.

Improve trade within Americas
On the environment, Harper said his Conservative government will do all it can to lead the effort to create a post-Kyoto international framework on climate change that recognizes economic circumstances.

A day earlier, Harper announced that Canada had joined talks with the U.S.-led climate change group the Asia-Pacific Partnership. It has been criticized by environmentalists as not setting hard targets to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

"The solution to climate change cannot and will not be one-size-fits-all, but neither can nations treat this issue as simply somebody else's responsibility," Harper said Tuesday.

Harper praised NAFTA and Canadian efforts to expand trade relationships within the Americas, despite concerns that some countries in the region are falling back into economic nationalism, protectionism and authoritarianism.

He cited Canada's recent trade deal with Colombia and urged Washington, which is considering a new pact with the South American nation, to follow Ottawa's example.

"If the U.S. turns its back on Colombia, this will set back our cause far more than any Latin American dictator can achieve," he said.

Harper said Canada and the U.S. must be able to balance their own security requirements with economic and trade issues before their relationship can deepen.

"The U.S. government, post-September 2001 … has very much become preoccupied with security … and I think that until we're able to couple that somewhat better, that the prospects of deepening our economic relationship are limited," he said.

PM tackles election chances
During a candid question and answer session following his speech, Harper addressed a number of issues, including how best to promote democracy.

Harper said the leaders of many non-democratic countries don't just aim to win elections, but aspire to wipe out their opposition for good.

"I'm concerned that as Western nations, we don't fully understand that, and I think we often rush in to certain types of democratic processes in non-democratic societies where the outcome will not be a free and democratic society," he said.

"All of us as Western countries need to think carefully about how we project and what we understand about our democratic values and how we project those abroad."

Harper also discussed his chances for re-election.

"Under the current political alignment — I'm probably not supposed to say this, my election strategist won't like it — I think the possibility of a minority government in any election, including one in the very near future, would loom very high," said Harper.

Won't be 'bullied' into ending seal hunt
When asked why Canada permits the seal hunt, Harper said anti-sealing groups present false information about the cull and that the clubbing of baby seals has been outlawed for 20 years.

"It's a small industry of animal husbandry. We will not be bullied or blackmailed based on allegations that are not true," he said.

When asked why Canada, despite having a culture similar to that in the U.S., is perceived with less hostility around the world, Harper acknowledged that the world sees the two neighbours differently.

"Canada has no history anywhere in the world of conquest or domination. It's hard to perceive of Canada in that kind of position," he said.

Harper also said Canada's nature as a "bicultural country" gives politicians an inherent understanding of cultural differences on the world stage

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