07/27/2014 10:14 EDT | Updated 09/26/2014 05:59 EDT

On International Issues, Harper Commits Selective Morality


If Russia were to follow the American lead, it should decorate the officer who shot down the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17.

Grotesque as it may sound, but this is exactly what the U.S. did. On July 3, 1988, Captain William C. Rogers III, the commanding officer of USS Vincennes, shot down an Iranian Airbus over the Iranian airspace, killing all onboard. On his return to the US, Captain Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service, which included the unprovoked murder of 290 civilians and crew onboard Iran Air Flight 655.

In a Globe and Mail op-ed this Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has articulated a strong stance against Russia citing the attack on the Malaysian airliner by Ukrainian separatists and Russia's invasion of Ukrainian territory, which he reminds Canadians violates international law.

The Harper government has mastered the art of selective morality. When it is convenient, Mr. Harper takes cover behind international law to attack those he disagrees with on ideological or religious grounds. And those with whom he has an ideological or religious connection, his government wilfully ignores their indiscretions. This selective application of morality is at odds with the principles of social justice, which all Canadians hold dear.

The opening line of Mr. Harper's op-ed in the Globe and Mail reveals how to cherry-pick accounts to build a narrative that portrays a partial truth. "The world is saddened and rightfully outraged by images of the charred remnants of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17..." he writes. The reality is that the world is equally outraged, if not more so, with the images of charred bodies of Palestinian children and civilians. Newspapers from across the globe are covering the Israeli-Hamas conflict on their front pages. The outrage is directed at the mass murder of the 1000-plus Palestinians, whom Mr. Harper's friend and ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called the "telegenically dead Palestinians."

Mr. Harper acknowledges that it may not be known for certain who shot down, perhaps in error, the Malaysian airliner. However, he is quick to hold Russia responsible. "But accident or no accident, the blood is on the hands of the men who took such a risk and of the government that encouraged them to do so."

Unlike the Malaysian Airliner, we know for certain that the Americans, who years later reluctantly compensated the Iranian victims, shot down the Iranian Airbus. Would Mr. Harper have taken the same "principled stand" against the U.S. for the unprovoked murder of Iranian civilians?

Mr. Harper accuses Russia of being "in violation of international law for its illegal occupation of Crimea." This is coming from a Prime Minister whose government has condemned international institutions, sparing not even the United Nations. Is there a sudden reversal in the Prime Minister's priorities? Does he really care about the rights of the people whose lands have been occupied by others in violation of the international law?

If that were to be true, his government would have noticed the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which the same international law finds illegal. However Mr. Harper's government is pathologically incapable of sympathizing with Palestinians, who are being murdered by the Israeli army while they are held hostage by equally ruthless Hamas militants.

Mr. Harper declares "Canada will not stand idly by" and will impose economic sanctions on Russia. May we ask the Prime Minister what his government has done about other illegal occupations? Isn't standing idly by the official foreign policy of his government? Mr. Harper's twitter-happy foreign minister in his tweets failed to mention hundreds of dead Palestinians, who cannot find refuge even in the UN shelters in Gaza.

Mr. Harper's appeal to Canadian values and principles is devoid of substance. Canadians support social justice even if it means giving up land to the rightful aboriginal owners. At the same time, Canadians have no sympathy for Hamas that indiscriminately fires thousands of rockets on Israeli civilians. While Canadians abhor the abduction and unprovoked murder of the three Israeli teenagers in the southern West Bank, they are also disgusted by the collective punishment being visited on civilians in Gaza, who have no place to hide from the Israeli shells or Hamas militants.

Mr. Harper's selective morality has no place in Canada. In the next elections, Canadians will be well served to select leaders who do not practice selective morality. A principled people should elect a principled government.


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