When actions speak louder than words: Harper’s disconnect on human rights.

If one were to pen a book on the federal election campaign so far, a good title might be: “What the hell happened to Canada?”
From peeing in a cup, to saying it’s fine to smoke pot while pregnant, it’s been like one long episode of the Colbert Report.

Sadly, there’s no off button for us until October 19th and lost amid the salacious stories and never-ending partisan gaffes, have been issues that deserve a bit more examination.

Issues like where Stephen Harper stands on human rights. Or more succinctly, where he doesn’t stand up for them. Because depending on which country is the offender, he might simply overlook an appalling human rights record, or as happened in 2013,he might go as far as boycotting a meeting.

It was October 2013 when I took Harper to task for his hypocritical announcement that he was boycotting a gathering in Sri Lanka, because of “serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian standards during and after the civil war.”  https://lailayuile.com/2013/10/08/he-wears-a-mask-and-his-face-grows-to-fit-it-george-orwell

‘Because I know that the Privy Council office reads here frequently, I would like to point out that it’s really hard to take Harper’s momentary bouts of concern over human rights in other countries seriously, because of his abrupt flip-flop on his new BFF, the Chinese government .

In many ways, China’s record on human rights is getting worse, not better.  Increasingly, targets are not only religious minorities such as the Falun Gong, but of political activists and their families.’

In fact the stance he took on Sri Lanka was one to be admired and very much in keeping with Canada’s  past reputation as a peacekeeping country with wide arms when it comes to humanitarian aid. Which makes his failure to show that same concern about other countries, all that more appalling.

Take for instance, Saudi Arabia, a country with an appalling human rights track record. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/saudi-arabia

In the news today as the UN and Human Rights groups call on Saudi Arabia to halt the beheading and crucifixion of man found guilty of a variety of crimes. http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/23/middleeast/saudi-arabia-ali-al-nimr-execution/  And this is not the first crucifixion to take place by far, nor is it likely to be the last.

But that is not the only cruel and unusual punishment those who break laws in Saudi Arabia face. Ask the wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/17/for-wife-of-imprisoned-saudi-blogger-raif-badawi-its-a-life-of-waiting/

“It’s a life of waiting,” said Ensaf Haidar, whose husband, Raif Badawi, a blogger who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for almost four years.

Haidar, who lives in exile in Canada with their three young children, is in Washington this week, meeting with members of Congress and officials at the State Department trying to persuade the U.S. government to put more effort into seeking her husband’s release.

Badawi, 31, was sentenced in 2014 to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes, along with a fine of more than $250,000, for criticizing Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious and political leaders on his Saudi Liberal Network Web site.

“He is just a blogger,” said Haidar, 36, a tiny woman whose speech is careful and contained, and without any trace of anger. “He has been away from his kids and his family for four years, and there is no valid reason for that. He’s just a very peaceful writer.”

Badawi received the first 50 of his lashes in January in a public square outside a mosque in the port city of Jiddah. A video posted on YouTube showed him standing silently as a police officer struck his back and legs with a wooden cane and onlookers cheered “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.” Saudi officials said the lashings would continue, 50 every Friday for the following 19 weeks.

The world erupted in fury and remaining floggings were postponed, although Badawi remains imprisoned for expressing his views and criticism of Saudi leaders.

Considering all of this, one would think Harper would be as eager to flex our Canadian influence and take a leadership role in Saudi Arabia, as he did in boycotting the meeting in Sri Lanka over their human rights record. But no. Instead, we did business with them.

And not just any kind of business – a $15 billion arms deal that is shrouded in secrecy and flew right under the radar of most Canadians. To this day there are more questions than answers and as we head into an election, Canadians need to think about Canada’s role in international affairs as a supplier.

From May 2015http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/head-of-crown-agency-calls-middle-east-strategic-region-for-arms-sales/article24656185/

“The head of the Canadian government agency that brokered a controversial deal to supply $15-billion worth of armoured fighting vehicles to Saudi Arabia sees the Middle East as “a strategic region” for Canadian arms sales.

Martin Zablocki, the president and chief executive of Canadian Commercial Corp., recently told an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper that he considers the union of Arab states in the Persian Gulf one of the hottest markets in which to sell military wares.”

From August 2015http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/foreign-affairs-found-no-red-flags-for-israel-in-saudi-arms-sale/article26121923/

“…federal rules oblige Ottawa to examine whether arms shipments to countries with poor human-rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, would endanger the local population.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, by its own stated rules, is required to screen requests to export military goods to countries “whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.” Among other things, it must obtain assurances that “there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.”

Ottawa, however, has stunned rights advocates by refusing to divulge how it will justify this massive sale under its strict export-control regime. It has said it will not release its analysis of how the sale complies with the regime.

As an example of how light-armoured vehicles might enable human-rights abuses, activists allege it was Canadian-made fighting vehicles that Saudi Arabia sent into Bahrain in 2011 to help quell a democratic uprising. The Canadian government doesn’t deny this happened. It only says it doesn’t believe the vehicles were used to beat back protests.”

Also from August 2015http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/harper-assured-details-of-saudi-arms-deal-would-stay-under-wraps/article26105853/

Ottawa is contractually obliged to keep secret the details of a controversial $15-billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia – a transaction that Stephen Harper personally assured the country’s monarch will be guaranteed by the Canadian government, documents say.

Foreign Affairs e-mails obtained by The Globe and Mail under access-to-information law indicate the Saudis have made excess publicity about the sale of armoured fighting vehicles a deal-breaker.

Officials were scrambling behind the scenes in January, after media coverage of the arms deal, to determine the consequences of publicly releasing the terms of the Saudi contract.

Aliya Mawani, a Canadian diplomat based in Riyadh, the capital, told Foreign Affairs colleagues on Jan. 21 that “we [the government] would be breaking the terms of the contract” with Saudi Arabia if details were made public.

“The contract is under a Canadian government guarantee in terms of fulfilment,” Ms. Mawani wrote in a Jan. 21 exchange with colleagues on why Ottawa couldn’t make the terms public.

“This was confirmed in writing by our Prime Minister in his letters to the King,” she said, speaking of Mr. Harper and the late Saudi King Abdullah.

A cloak of secrecy surrounds this agreement, first announced in 2014, with Ottawa refusing to divulge any substantial information on the vehicles Canada is selling to the Saudi regime – or how it justifies the sale to a nation known for human-rights abuses.

And I am not the first to question this. Derrick O’Keefe raised the alarm on Harpers hypocrisy  in February 2014 when the deal was first announced: https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/massive-canadian-saudi-export-deal-exposes-conservative-hypocrisy

Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country under question that Canada has done deals with. Justin Ling did an excellent piece in Vice back in January 2015 based on the Canadian governments own data.  And the list of http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/data-shows-canada-upping-arms-sales-to-human-rights-abusers-786

” Ottawa may have been none too happy with now-ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, but the Canadian government didn’t have much of a problem increasing weapons shipments to his government by 182,819 percent.

It’s all part of how Canada’s military exports have re-oriented in recent years, as more and more Canada-made weaponry heads into shaky territory. When those less-than-stable regimes eventually crumble, like Morsi’s did, figuring out where those Canadian-made armaments end up is a real crapshoot.

These figures, which cover 2012 and 2013, show that Canada is hiking weapons shipments to its NATO allies—England, Italy, Germany—but also to less stable nations with questionable moral records.”

~ snip~

“Also: the government only publishes this data every two years without any stated reason. So you’ll have to stay tuned until 2016 to see just how much Canadian military exports are ramping up—given that Ottawa is trying to knock down barriers to ship arms to a half dozen other nations, expect the numbers to be pretty high.”

There is a national discussion to be had here and it is long overdue.

Are Canadians comfortable with the sale of arms and military goods to countries with questionable stability that offer no assurance where those goods will end up?

Are Canadians comfortable with the sale of arms and military goods to countries with appalling human rights,and women’s rights records?

And most of all, are Canadians comfortable with a government that can so easily pick and choose which human rights violations we should stand up against, and which ones we as a country, will overlook?

They say money talks and by the looks of Harper’s human rights hypocrisy, I would say that’s accurate.

17 thoughts on “When actions speak louder than words: Harper’s disconnect on human rights.

  1. And what about Canada herself?

    Our vets are being ignored, our navy is a shambles, the airforce is waiting on engines and we have to ‘contract’ to ‘airlift’ supplies to refugees and disaster victims.

    Our submarines have dustbunnies, fer Gawd’s sake!

    We even rely on the US to support (and occasionally wipe out) our troops (it’s not intentional..the US kills more friendly fire victims than all other countries combined. Always has. Better to be sorry than safe for them. So, get over it.)

    While Harper struts menacingly but meaninglessly at the Russian Bear over Ukraine, our peace-keeping creds are destroyed, our reputations shredded and our own humanitarian record with refugees is defiled. If he didn’t treat our own vets so bad, I’d say he discriminated but he is definitely an equal-opportunity pompous ass and he’ll let everyone down one way or the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laila

      On the vein of this story, or of those telling this story and others like it….. here is the new plan going forward…. http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/chief-of-the-defence-staff-gen-jon-vance-and-the-weaponization-of-public-affairs

      “There is a lot of excitement these days in the public affairs branch at National Defence headquarters about Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance and what senior officers are calling the “weaponization of public affairs.”

      There are already different interpretations among public affairs officers about this new plan/terminology being attributed to Gen. Vance.

      But the more common explanation provided to Defence Watch is this: There will be more strategic leaks by the Canadian Forces/DND to journalists who are deemed “friendly” to the military. Such leaks will consist mainly of “good news” stories or positive initiatives and the journalists will be required to heavily promote those.

      Equally important, is the flip-side of this “weaponization” strategy. That is the targeting of journalists who are writing or broadcasting the stories that the CF/DND don’t want out in the public domain.

      Journalists seen as “trouble-makers” are those producing stories about failed equipment purchases or uncovering details about severely injured soldiers not being treated properly or individuals being sexually harassed, etc., public affairs officers tell Defence Watch. In other words, reporters who are producing what the CF/DND views as negative or embarrassing news stories.

      The “weaponization” aspect will come into play with phone calls to media bosses, letters to the editor, etc. – anything to undercut the credibility of such journalists in the eyes of readers and their employers, NDHQ public affairs sources say. Other tactics aimed at these journalists could also be developed.

      But will this strategy work?

      Vance isn’t the first to attempt to bring pesky journalists to heel….”

      Read the entire article. It’s well worth it.

      As is this: http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/why-politicians-have-nothing-to-say-on-the-campaign-trail/ which has a funny response from Vance to the writer when he mentioned the first link in his piece 🙂

      Like

        1. nonconfidencevote

          The US military learned from their Vietnam “mistake” that nosy journalists can turn public opinion against them. Thus forcing “retreat”.
          Hence “embedded” journalists during the 1st Gulf “war”, the 2nd Gulf “war”, etc. “reporting” carefully massaged messages from the front.
          The average military officer is now a university educated professional manager. BA’s and MA”s abound. The days of promotion through the ranks is , for the most part, a bygone anachronism. Unless officers are killed in the field during battle, dont expect the average grunt to become an officer.
          That being said, I’m not too surprised that the Canadian military is following the US military lead. I’m just surprised it took them so long.
          Gobbels would be proud.

          Like

  2. And the lashings result in a slow death… disgusting…. and of course there’s always another violation and cover up with the Harper Gov’t. A new report, entitled Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada’s Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiry, has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

    Lots more links: http://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=22326#sthash.ULE9rAfn.dpuf

    or download the PDF
    http://www.ceasefire.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Afghan-Detainees-002.pdf

    There are a few organizations putting together the various party platforms on Human Rights, Peace and upholding International law – I’m sure you’ll see them. Thanks for bring this topic into the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. workforfun

    I like the new format Laila.
    Have to agree on Harper. I think he has some ongoing mental issues that no one wants to talk about. Harper does nothing but brag, bully and blame others. I don’t have anything good to say about that creature – won’t call him a man as his behaviour leaves too much to be desired.
    Thanks

    Like

  4. Chandi Sinnathurai

    Harper has neglected and continues to ignore matters pertaining to human rights. It is time to send him home with his colleagues and elect a party that will make Canada proud on international stage! The voting public ought to show Haper his hypocristy is OVER. Let the new Government rule!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Look what happens when Canadians unite for a single purpose. Remember this. | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

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