Nowhere is the difference between the Harper Conservatives and the Progressive Conservatives more apparent than in the area of foreign policy. Consider what former prime minister -- and foreign affairs minister -- Joe Clark wrote over the weekend:
The critical talents, in [our] world, are the ability to respect and bridge conflicting identities — and different values — and patiently seek enough common ground to build trust and respect and, then, collaboration. No country in the world is better at that than Canada. And our capacity increases as our population diversifies, making us more like the world. So the habit of common purpose — the sense of with whom we might empathize or co-operate — is larger than it was before. That is a significant asset.
Our present prime minister cannot cooperate with his fellow parliamentarians: so, it's no wonder his foreign policy is all about hard power -- that is, beating your enemies into submission. Clark's real point, though, is that the world can ill afford Stephen Harper, who has targeted non governmental organizations in his budget cuts:
Today, Greenpeace has more influence on public policy than most national governments. The Gates Foundation is more innovative. The Red Cross/Red Crescent employ more than 300,000 people. Of the world’s 10 biggest multinational companies in 2011, ranked by “Fortune global 500,” only five — Wal-Mart, three Chinese state companies and Toyota Motors — employ more people internationally than Red Cross/Red Crescent. And that is just the beginning of the non-state list. World Vision is in 97 countries, with more than 40,000 staff, and more than 100,000 volunteers. The NGO “BRAC,” rooted in Bangladesh, is the largest non-governmental organization in the world. Amnesty International has offices in 80 countries — more national offices than most countries have embassies.
The elections in France and Greece are a reminder that Stephen Harper is yesterday's man. Unfortunately, he -- and a significant number of Canadians -- haven't figured that out yet. And that is truly the sad difference -- not only between Stephen Harper and Joe Clark -- but between Canada today and the world of tomorrow.