Monday, May 07, 2012

The Sad Difference

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.


The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for the link, Owen. Joe's mind is in the right place. He must be gutted at what the radical right has done to his Conservative party.

I'm less convinced by Goldman's vision of the world by 2050. These analyses routinely avoid addressing the radical changes that are just beginning to impact the world. The institutions on which Goldman's predictions rely are faltering, losing their utility.

Canada 19th by 2050? My guess is that we'll be moving up the ladder, not down. The nearer a country is to the equator by 2050 the more distressed it will be. That includes, of course, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, most of Latin America and South Asia.

A study was published only last week that determined we had underestimated the hydrological cycle impacts by a full half. Already dry regions, such as the American southwest, will become intensely drier while normally wet regions will become substantially wetter. That alone will create immense, potentially insurmountable, challenges to the emerging economies.

No, Goldman's projections, like so many others, assume a substantial degree of environmental, economic and political stability that likely will not prevail.

Owen Gray said...

I was particularly struck by your post on the miscalculation of the hydrological cycle, Mound.

It's interesting that the Pentagon is factoring in the effects of climate change. But financial institutions don't have a clue.

I take it as a given that Stephen Harper has no time for Joe Clark. But something tells me historians will treat Clark with more respect than they will ever accord Harper.

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen the approach taken by major financial institutions, like Goldman Sachs, is confusing, inconsistent.

For example, Goldman's foremost trading desk is now in food commodity futures. With the world, according to the UN FAO, now in permanent food insecurity, Goldman makes it worse but, for itself, immensely profitable by gaming food markets.

They see the aspects of it they can exploit even as they omit those same considerations from their long-term projections.

Owen Gray said...

Naomi Klein got it right, Mound. It's all about profiting from disaster.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Yesterday in France they were chanting "Sarkozy, c'est fini!" I live for the day we will be chanting "Harper, c'est fini, enfin!"

The message for the Harper Government, on the results in France and Greece, is that it is behind the wave of change of the failed economic program of austerity to balance the budget. IN Europe this has been the program for four years while the Harper government is just beginning the failed approach at the worst time, when the economy is slowing down. The French got fed up with this approach that guaranteed prosperty for investors and banks at the cost to the average citizen. It got so bad in Greece candidates in the main line parties were under attack when campaigning.

Harper's approach is to cut federal services and progams, adding to the unemployment rate. At the same time he is weakening, the laws that protect the environment, the right to protest, workers, all to ease the way for rapid exploitation of resources for the short term benefit of international industry.

It is time, we learn from the students in Quebec and protest , en mass, in the streets at this attack on some of Canada's greatest values, to make a few friends of the Conservatives, rich.

Owen Gray said...

I couldn't have said it better, Philip. So be it.