This week, plenty of critics took the Harper government to task over its decision to withdraw Canada from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was so frustrated, she tweeted that Harper is making Canada "a rogue nation. The North Korea of environmental law" (a sentiment and analogy she defended Friday in a HuffPost blog post).
Even though the Conservatives' method of backing out of the convention was typically cowardly and arrogant -- no announcement, no explanation until pressed -- it's actually encouraging to see Canada asserting itself as a country grown-up and morally self-assured enough to act as a free agent on these kinds of matters. Should we stick around unconditionally and fund well-meaning UN initiatives even when they prove wasteful and unproductive? Or could Canada be a global leader in forging an alternative path for working with other nations on the crucial issues of war, poverty, human rights and the environment?
Given the UN's record of incompetence, corruption, over-spending and ineffectiveness, a country that took the initiative for creating a new framework for principled, voluntary international co-operation might be more than just a "rogue" nation -- it might be doing the whole world a favour.