At tonight's Munk debate, Stephen Harper will claim that -- just as he is a master of economic policy -- he is also a foreign policy guru. But, Michael Harris writes, Harper's foreign policy is all about milking the world for money while being guided by humanity's darker angels:
Behind the emotional appeal to the worst angels of our nature and fear mongering is a decade’s worth of diplomatic disaster. The world has become a much more dangerous place for Canadians due almost solely to the Harper approach, and Canada has been involved in some of the darkest episodes post 9/11 – including a dubious role in Afghanistan that might yet spark a public inquiry into allegations of war crimes.
Harper's betrayal of Canada's traditional role in the world is breathtaking:
Consider some of the breathless reversals of Canadian foreign policy under Harper: While even China announces a cap-and-trade policy to reduce carbon emissions in the name of planetary salvation, Harper was the first world leader to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.
He also refused to honour Canada’s commitments at Copenhagen to reduce carbon emissions. To be sure it wouldn’t come back on his watch, he then dismantled the entire climate change branch within Foreign Affairs and has yet to regulate the energy industry.
Under Harper, and without informing either Parliament or the United Nations, Canada withdrew from the UN convention to fight drought in Africa and other vulnerable countries, making Canada the only state to do so out of 193 that signed on to the convention. The rest of the world saw encroaching deserts as an urgent problem because they are so obviously tied to famine and poverty. Then foreign minister John Baird referred to the convention as a fruitless “talkfest.”
For Harper, foreign policy must -- first and foremost -- generate profits:
After a brief flirtation with moralizing against evil-doers, Harper now routinely does deals with the devil. Despite its human rights record, Harper has cut huge deals with China, including Sinopec, the giant Chinese petroleum and chemical company. That $4.6 billion deal for 9 percent of Syncrude was eclipsed by the sale of Calgary-based resource company Nexen to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. The price-tag was $15 billion but the conditions could prove much steeper – Canadian sovereignty. That’s because Harper granted China the right to sue Canada for unlimited damages if domestic laws by any level of government in this country harmed the value of Chinese investment here.
Once upon a time, Harper said this: “I don’t think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values. They don’t want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar.” If you are wondering what happened to the man that spoke those words, he has undergone a sea-change. The new Harper now sells out Canadian values without so much as a blink.
How else can it be explained that Canada just sold $15 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, a country recently described by The Atlantic as a world champion of human rights abuse? This is a country that plans to behead and then crucify 21 year-old Ali al-Nimr for protesting against the state during the Arab Spring when he was a teenager. But I thought the beheaders were the bad guys? Now it turns out ISIS is something quite different: Saudi Arabians without money.
Harper knows nothing about economics or foreign policy. But what's worse, he thinks they're one and the same thing.