Harper and Baird should clean their own backyard before coming to CHOGM
Dr Kamal Wickremasinghe
The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Foreign Minister John Baird are leading the charge against Sri Lanka
as the venue for this year`s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November. The language used by Harper and Baird, including references to evil and appalling , seems quite out of proportion to the significance of CHOGM as an international gathering, as well as its utility to Sri Lanka as perceived by Sri Lankans.
Canadian first Nations protest in ottawa
The snarling of the two men carry no weight because both have little credibility - Stephen Harper has never managed to win a national election in Canada
in his own right, and resorts to the anti-democratic practice of proroguing whenever he is about to face difficult questions in Parliament Baird is a buffoon, a former provincial politician and `wannabe` future leader of the Conservatives trying to achieve his aim by kow-towing to the monied Israeli lobby in Canada. The two men, not known for their intelligence or subtlety in international affairs, are the butt of jokes among the Canadian media and bureaucracy.
One such joke doing rounds in Ottawa is based on an exchange that is supposed to have taken place with a group of six-year-olds during one of Stephen Harper`s visits to an Ontario primary school, in the midst of a discussion on words and their meanings the story goes that Harper volunteered to help the teacher by leading a discussion on the meaning of the word `Tragedy`, and asked the class for an example of a tragedy as they understood it.
A six-year-old boy answered - My best friend was killed by a runaway car, and my mum said that was a tragedy. Incorrect, said Harper. That would be an accident. A little girl raised her hand - A school bus carrying 50 children drove over a cliff killing everybody inside, and my dad said that was a tragedy. I`m afraid not , explained Harper, that was a great loss, but not a tragedy.
No other children volunteered for a minute or two and finally, a little boy at the back of the room raised his hand and said - If a plane carrying you, John Baird and Michael Ignatieff were struck by Canadian `friendly fire` and blown to smithereens that would be a tragedy.
Fantastic , exclaimed Harper, and can you tell me why that would be a tragedy? Well , because it certainly wouldn`t be a great loss, and it probably wouldn`t be a (expletive) accident either , said the little boy!
The bigger joke however, is the ridiculous attempt by Harper and Baird to assign some sort of global human rights guardianship to a remnant of colonialism like the so-called Commonwealth that represents a litany of mass murders, rape and dispossession of indigenous peoples throughout the world between the 16th and mid-20th centuries.
Harper`s and Baird`s attempts to assume leadership on human rights protection despite Canada`s disgraceful record of treatment of Indigenous peoples of that country is a subsidiary joke.
Harper is trying to hide behind Sri Lanka
In fact, a look at the reasons behind the feigned fury of Harper and Baird over Sri Lanka last week shows that it is an attempt to divert attention from the international scrutiny of continuing human rights violations of the Indigenous peoples of Canada that began on April 26 at the UNHRC, under the second universal periodic review (UPR) of Canada.
The world has called the bluff of Canada`s self-righteous posturing as a country committed to protect human rights globally, by questioning the facts on their own treatment of the original owners of Canada being reported to the UNHRC - Russia
expressed alarm over Canada`s Police actions of torture and cruelty against peaceful demonstrators and China complained of widespread racial discrimination in Canada.
North Korea, perhaps mockingly, expressed serious concerns about continued violations of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, torture and other ill-treatment, racism and xenophobia in Canada Iran did likewise by referring to child sexual exploitation and trafficking, the right to food, and discriminatory laws against Indigenous people and minority groups including Muslims, Arabs and African communities Egypt complained of racial profiling of Muslims in law-enforcement action Cuba was concerned with racism and xenophobia in Canada.
Canada has an inglorious colonial past on the rights of First Nations
Canadian primary and secondary school history books hide the truth about the dispossession the Indigenous people suffered as a result of European colonisation. A petition was launched by Aboriginals in Quebec in March, calling for the Quebec government to require that Canadian history in secondary school be made a mandatory subject.
Following the early French and British subjugation of the Indigenous Canadians, the arrival in Canada of a powerful group of some 30,000 United Empire Loyalist refugees from America following the British loss of the American War of Independence in 1783 dramatically worsened the already bad plight of the Canadian First Nations The demands of the Loyalists who had been a pampered lot in America for new lands from the colonial administrators in Canada robbed them of their remaining possessions. Land was ceded for the establishment of agricultural colonies by Loyalists under a series of surrender treaties with the various First Nations, with just two parcels of lands set aside as reserves for the Six Nations people from America.
Once peace returned to North America, new immigrants and colonists continued to arrive, leading to more and more property being taken away from the First Nations until 1862, making them a dispossessed people on their former lands. As settlement lands were filled, attention turned to northern areas where minerals had been discovered.
Under an assimilation policy, aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in India
n Residential Schools set up by the Canadian Government where many were subjected to emotional, physical and sexual abuse, overcrowding, unhealthy eating and poor sanitation.
The bad human rights record of Canada against the Indigenous peoples got markedly worse since Stephen Harper became Prime Minister when his Conservative Party formed a minority government after the 2006 federal election.
Federal and provincial governments in Canada are still invoking the racist and colonial doctrine of discovery to deny or limit Aboriginal title to lands or territories Canadian mining companies are robbing the mineral resources on Indigenous land, totally disregarding their religious and cultural rights and causing health and environmental disasters by dumping hazardous mine waste in to lakes and rivers.
In the international negotiations of the Nagoya Protocol on Indigenous peoples` rights to genetic resources under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada denied recognition of their ownership of genetic resources based on customary use. The Supreme Court
of Canada rejected Canada`s approach as not honourable .
A Joint Submission by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs to UNHRC complained that Canada refuses to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that sets out their individual and collective rights, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.
Despite endorsing the Declaration in November 2010 after years of resistance, Canada continues to call it merely an aspirational and a non-legally binding document that does not change Canadian laws. Canada`s continued racial discrimination and refusal to affirm Indigenous peoples` collective rights as human rights violates international law, the Chiefs submitted to the UNHRC.
The Chiefs also complain that Canada continues to ignore rampant violence against Indigenous women and girls, including more than 600 unresolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women over the last two decades according to the Native Women`s Association of Canada. Harper`s government continues to dismiss calls for a national inquiry in to the matter.
Harper`s government refused in 2008 to ratify a complaints procedure as part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to permit an Indigenous person to seek a remedy in the international arena following the exhaustion of domestic appeals, after ratifying a similar complaints procedure for political and civil rights that affects the non-Indigenous population predominantly as far back as 1976.
Canada rejected more than half of the 68 recommendations from its last UPR in 2009, mainly in the areas of aboriginal rights, racial discrimination and fighting poverty.
Facing hard questions posed by the international community, and exposing his hypocrisy, Harper was hard pressed to find a diversion from his country`s disgraceful human rights record it appears Harper decided to launch a full-blown attack on Sri Lanka with the help of his dim-witted foreign minister, probably convinced that diversion is the best form of defence.
John Baird is a walking, mumbling disaster
Harper`s Foreign Minister friend John Baird is a caricature of the loud-mouthed, incompetent, under-qualified politician the people in Western countries have come to despise - he shoots from the hip often, displaying appalling levels of insensitivity and tact, about matters relating to Israel in particular.
He also broke Canada`s Official Languages Act requirement of adherence to bilingual communication by government officials when he printed separate English and French language business cards.
While visiting Israel in February 2012, Baird affirmed Canada`s support for Israel`s extre...