Over the next four years, the Harper government will cut $523.5 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Rights and Democracy was only one of the victims of the cuts. In reality, the Harperites killed that agency three years ago.
In fact, over the last three years, the Harper government has quietly been strangling other agencies. Haroon Siddiqui writes that:
The Harperites boast a commitment to the promotion of democracy, human rights and freedom of religion abroad. Yet they have systematically eviscerated the groups that have long advanced those Canadian values. Among the victims: the Ottawa-based Forum of Federations, which promotes federalism and democratic governance; Kairos, the global human rights arm of 11 Canadian churches; the Canadian Council of International Cooperation, which coordinates public policy on foreign aid; and MATCH, which worked on rights of women in the developing world.
The cuts to Foreign Affairs are yet another example of what Bob Rae calls the government's "organized hypocrisy." The reason for that hypocrisy is a little hard to gauge. But then Stephen Harper, born and raised in the suburbs of Toronto, likes to pose as an Alberta cowboy. Siddiqui suggests that underneath the facade, something else is going on:
Harper came to office in 2006 harbouring a deep distrust of the federal bureaucracy, which he considered a catacomb of Liberal sympathizers. He held a particular animus for foreign affairs, whose officials he thought of as elitist, having never travelled abroad. More crucially, he feared their resistance to his blind support of Israel.
Harper is obsessive about the state of Israel or -- not to put too fine a point on it -- he obsesses about the Netanyahu government. The reasons for Harper's obsession are not clear. But one has to wonder what Bibi knows about Stephen that Canadians don't know.