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. Even though the Conservatives' method of backing out of the convention was typically cowardly and arrogant, 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. Given the UN's record, if Canada took the initiative for creating a new framework for principled, voluntary international co-operation, it might be doing the whole world a favour.
This is a larger, more esoteric blog than merely defending my use of North Korea and Canada in the same sentence. But, okay, I am also defending my use of North Korea and Canada in the same sentence. The analogy is that in one context only -- global environmental treaties -- Canada is acting rogue, and since North Korea is the most shocking example of a rogue state, the analogy is to North Korea. Given the challenges of Twitter, I think saying Canada is the North Korea of environmental treaties captures it very well. Not literally true in any respect. But as an analogy, it explains just how shocking Stephen Harper's actions really are.
Children should have a UN right and even a Canadian Charter right, to an education directed by their parents, and not by intellectual elites like Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman or his cohort MLA Kent Hehr, who are on record for wanting to destroy Alberta's "funding following the student", parent-directed education system.
The opening of the UN General Assembly is taking place before us. Unfortunately, with one particular group of world leaders, in an area where they desperately need a makeover, one will probably not be forthcoming. Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon will not have the courage to stand up before his fellow African heads of state and proclaim that state-sanctioned bigotry and persecution of gays throughout Africa must become a relic of the past. Nor will Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda. But this is a time to give a voice to the voiceless.
Leonard Peltier, now 68, has been in prison for 35 years. Since 1977, petitions and pleas on his behalf have been ignored; appeals by the Arhbshiop of Canterbury, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, 55 U.S. Congressmen, and Canadian Parliamentarians, and members of the European Parliament Union. But the FBI is adamant that he killed two of their agents.
Just over a decade ago, the UN declared June 20th as World Refugee Day. But in Canada today, we are losing our noble traditions of welcoming refugees and giving them full benefits. Thankfully, there are organizations like the Canada Centre for Victims of Torture that are trying to help out these immigrants in any way they can.
In Rio, Canada worked pretty hard to make sure no binding agreement on tackling overfishing occurred...or any other agreement for that matter. We can't look to our politicians to help the Earth, but we can look to ourselves. Local efforts from businesses and cities: These are things we can count on.
Now that the UN has finally acknowledged that Syria is in a "full blown civil war," it's even more reason why we of the Western alliance should stay out of it. Harsh as it may seem, intervention would be a mistake. If we (meaning Western democracies) entered the fray, it'll be war by proxy and wouldn't curb bloodshed, but spread it.
May 2012 was Canada's turn to appear again before the UN Committee Against Torture. Governmental responses that the UN Committee should focus on countries worse than Canada don't make sense -- should a corporation with a strong ethical record say that it no longer needs to undergo audit processes because there are other corporations out there cooking the books?
Let's cut to the chase. NATO partners do not want to enter another war to overthrow another Arab dictator where the end-game is not clear. The West is cash-strapped and has Arab Spring fatigue. Let's start an overt and sincere effort to arm the Syrian rebels, and stop the niceties in face of this building massacre.
A model of non-violence and civil disobedience in line with the Green Movement that began in 2009 is the best course for the future of Iran. International isolation and pressure on the Iranian state will lead the government toward further repressive measures. Military intervention will only make things worse.
What to do about Syria? It's a valid question, about which there is no valid answer. Perhaps a better question would be, is there anything we (meaning the developed or civilized world) wants to do? The outside world is neither policeman nor colonizer. Syria wouldn't be the pushover Libya was, and if we became involved it could well boomerang when democracy doesn't occur, and a different tyranny ensues.
The IPCC has lounged in a large comfy chair atop a pedestal. When it is mentioned in broadcasts, newspapers, and books it is portrayed as a paragon of scientific truth and authority. But according to a recent survey, scientific excellence isn't the only reason individuals are invited to participate in the IPCC.
One of the most touching pieces of testimony at the UN Watch conference was a letter smuggled out of Iran's notorious Evin Prison. I have put this letter into the record of the Senate as a show of solidarity with the author, a brave ayatollah whose only crime was to advocate for the separation of religion and government.