Wednesday, September 7, 2016

On middle east foreign policy Trudeau mostly follows in Harper's footsteps

Stephen Harper the 22nd Canadian prime minister of Canada and long time leader of the federal Conservative Party has announced that he is retiring from politics after a nearly 18-year political career.

Harper was prime minister from 2006 until November of 2015 when Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party won a majority government. Harper intends to move to the private sector. A spokesperson for Harper said that he has formed a consulting group to provide advice to international clients. The company, “will work in tech, finance, energy, infrastructure and manufacturing along (with) other files, in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia".
Harper left with little fanfare. His handlers often worried about his lack of charisma as a leader and tried various stunts to make him more appealing. This includes Harper at the piano singing along with an orchestra and Yo Yo Ma the famous cellist. The video is appended. Harper was very fond of cats and there are a number of photos of Harper with kittens. An example can be found here.
recent article traces Harper's influence on Canadian policy in the Middle East. Much of this policy is little changed by our new prime minister Justin Trudeau. Most prominent was Harper's unconditional support for Israel. Avigdor Lieberman, an Israeli minister on the far right spoke of Harper as a "true friend of Israel". Harper's government cut funding to the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and to domestic organizations working for Palestinian human rights.
In 2014 the Canadian and Israeli governments signed a memorandum to oppose “boycotts of Israel, its institutions, and its people,” as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) gained prominence globally. Yet Trudeau and most of his Liberals supported a resolution against BDS moved by the opposition Conservatives. Normally, a ruling party would not support a motion coming from the opposition. The Liberals obviously want to show that they too want to protect Israel from the BDS movement.
The Harper government not only supported Israel but also tried to strengthen relations with countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A Canadian company may have been involved in breaking the UN ban on military shipments to Libya from the UAE.
The Harper government signed a $15 billion contract with the Saudis to provide light-armoured vehicles. This is the largest deal in Canadian history. Did the Trudeau government decide to stop the deal from going through? Not at all, Stephane Dione, the relevant minister approved the deal. The spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, Joseph Pickerell said: “The Minister of Foreign Affairs has signed the export permit for Light Armoured Vehicles … to be sold to Saudi Arabia,. " Many had criticized the deal due to human rights issues. Many argued the vehicles could be used against civilians. While in some other areas of foreign policy Trudeau may be diverging considerably from those of Harper, with respect to the Middle East the Liberals have acted much as the Harper Conservatives did.
In other areas, the Liberals also have yet to change Harper policy. The draconian anti-terror law Bill C 51 was actually supported by the Liberals. The Liberals are promising a wide review of the bill and security issues in general but it remains to be if the Liberals end up making any positive changes. The Rebel Media whose video on Harper is appended is actually conservative politically.

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