This week Stephen Harper heads to the United Nations, an organization which he has consistently snubbed. The goal is to present himself as a world statesman -- not to the UN, but to the folks back home.
The problem, however, is what the problem always is for Harper. He's never willing to put his money where his mouth is. In fact, his singular talent lies in taking money away, even as her praises his own achievements.
If you really want some insight into Harper's expertise in international affairs, Carol Goar suggested last week, look at the number of Canadian international organizations he has shut down by simply cutting off their funding:
Last week, the North-South Institute, one of the country’s oldest foreign policy think-tanks folded. Its board of directors thanked the founders, donors and staff members for their contribution to 38 years of non-partisan research to strengthen Canada’s role in to the world. Then they quietly turned out the lights.
The year before that Rights and Democracy died. It was an arm’s-length federal agency set up by former prime minister Brian Mulroney in 1988 to encourage democracy and monitor human rights around the world.
In 2010, the government cut off funding to Match International, an organization that supported women’s rights in the developing world. With a blitz of fundraising and partners in 71 countries, it survived.
Canadian Council on International Co-operation (CCIC), a coalition of 100 foreign aid groups striving to end global poverty, did not fare as well. When its grant was slashed, it had to lay off most of its staff. The organization still exists, but it has lost its voice.
Ottawa also defunded a couple of church-based development groups — Kairos, which represents 11 denominations, and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace— but their members kept them afloat.
It's been clear for some time now that -- not withstanding his claims to the contrary -- Stephen Harper is no economic genius. And, when it comes to foreign affairs, Harper is an innocent abroad. The UN knows that. Still, Harper wears his ignorance proudly.