canada the desperate country

It is now common knowledge in Canada that the Harper government delayed evacuating 50,000 Canadian citizens from Lebanon last week because the prime…

It is now common knowledge in Canada that the Harper government delayed evacuating 50,000 Canadian citizens from Lebanon last week because the prime minister’s office was concerned that a widely publicized mass exodus would create bad press, contradicting as it would Harper’s portrayal of Israel’s bombing campaign as measured and justifiable.

A dozen excuses have been made for the shabby treatment of Canadian evacuees, who were among the last foreign nationals to receive government help, and some of those excuses are reasonable, but the country will not forget that the initial delay was caused by too-tight control from Ottawa, or that the effort didn’t get underway until the deaths of eight Canadian citizens made further delay impossible.

Much of the country is in shock today at the stance taken by our government over the crisis in Lebanon.

When 300 people are killed and 500,000 more displaced by a bombing campaign that targets hospitals, bridges, and airports as well as civilian neighbourhoods, when a family of Canadians is killed in a bombing raid, what kind of government not only fails to protest, but endorses the slaughter?

Since long before the current crisis, terrible crimes have been committed on both sides of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

To place all the blame on Hezbollah as the Bush White House and its Canadian yes-men are doing is to ignore all history prior to last week.

More to the point, it is to ignore what is happening today, which is that while both sides are deliberately targeting civilians, the far more powerful Israelis are doing so with much greater success.

In the meantime the best that Canada can do, besides wholeheartedly embracing the slaughter of Lebanese civilians on the tenuous grounds that Israel is a democracy and has a right to defend itself, is to plead for safe passage of long-delayed rescue ships.

The question arises, why is it necessary to ask for safe passage for obviously civilian craft?

Why is a cruise ship in international waters at risk from Israel’s ‘measured’ military action?

Harper’s position on the current crisis is not simply pro-Israel. It’s a stand for the rights of powerful democracies such as Israel, the US, and the UK to inflict bloody hell on civilian populations in other less worthy countries in the name of the War on Terror.

He takes this position not only because he has to face a powerful pro-Israeli lobby back home, but because he aspires for Canada to join that club of powerful democracies, with real military might to throw around.

In Harper’s dreams Canada plays Robin to America’s Batman.

We need to support our allies, and we need to be strong to do it. Sometimes that’s going to mean Canadian jets blowing the crap out of civilian neighbourhoods, so it’s important to make it clear right now that such behaviour is OK, so long as it’s done by a modern, powerful democracy, and against undemocratic terrorists, or the civilians in terrorist neighbourhoods.

Harper’s military aspirations are mad, and threaten the safety of us all.

The experience of those powerful democracies he seeks to emulate demonstrates that there are awful consequences for protecting yourself with indiscriminate force.

People don’t just lie down and die. They resist war-mongering democracies with all the will that others have shown to resist dictators and kings, and no matter how out-gunned they are, they find a way to strike back.

In a further attempt to make good PR out of the deaths of innocents and the wanton destruction of civil infrastructure, Harper took a detour home from St. Petersburg with his personal jet to pick up a handful of stranded travellers and squeeze in a couple of easy photo-ops.

It’s a tribute to Conservative cynicism that he failed to take the more obviously useful step of getting out first and grabbing the next flight home, along with his entourage, including the photographers, and emptying several hundred seats, instead of just 60.

Canada could hardly be in a more desperate political state. In order to rid ourselves of a corrupt and complacent governing party we’ve handed power to a sinister gang whose only policy seems to be to echo whatever propaganda comes out of the most bellicose White House in modern history.

Canadians elected Harper and crew to a minority government, making it clear that most of the country wasn’t interested in a full dose of their ultra-right policies, but Parliament is in such a shambles today that the Reformers are able to do whatever they like, or rather, whatever the White House likes.

We need to be rid of this government soon, while we still have a country to argue over.

Never mind the “mood of the voters” and the country’s debilitating election-fatigue, surely the Canadian electorate isn’t such a spoiled brat that we’ll cavil at dumping this murderous crew because we’re not in the mood.

It’s bleak to consider that the most likely challenger on the horizon is yet another PowerCorp Liberal, but democracy is full of surprises.

Maybe for once Canada can bring some political imagination to the electoral process, and find some alternative other than the same tired old choices we’ve been facing for years.

It couldn’t be more obvious that Canada needs to dump these bums. It won’t be tomorrow, but soon. Please, soon.

Al Pope won the 2002 Ma Murray Award for Best Columnist in BC/Yukon.

His novel, Bad Latitudes, is available in bookstores.It is now common knowledge in Canada that the Harper government delayed evacuating 50,000 Canadian citizens from Lebanon last week because the prime minister’s office was concerned that a widely publicized mass exodus would create bad press, contradicting as it would Harper’s portrayal of Israel’s bombing campaign as measured and justifiable.

A dozen excuses have been made for the shabby treatment of Canadian evacuees, who were among the last foreign nationals to receive government help, and some of those excuses are reasonable, but the country will not forget that the initial delay was caused by too-tight control from Ottawa, or that the effort didn’t get underway until the deaths of eight Canadian citizens made further delay impossible.

Much of the country is in shock today at the stance taken by our government over the crisis in Lebanon.

When 300 people are killed and 500,000 more displaced by a bombing campaign that targets hospitals, bridges, and airports as well as civilian neighbourhoods, when a family of Canadians is killed in a bombing raid, what kind of government not only fails to protest, but endorses the slaughter?

Since long before the current crisis, terrible crimes have been committed on both sides of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

To place all the blame on Hezbollah as the Bush White House and its Canadian yes-men are doing is to ignore all history prior to last week.

More to the point, it is to ignore what is happening today, which is that while both sides are deliberately targeting civilians, the far more powerful Israelis are doing so with much greater success.

In the meantime the best that Canada can do, besides wholeheartedly embracing the slaughter of Lebanese civilians on the tenuous grounds that Israel is a democracy and has a right to defend itself, is to plead for safe passage of long-delayed rescue ships.

The question arises, why is it necessary to ask for safe passage for obviously civilian craft?

Why is a cruise ship in international waters at risk from Israel’s ‘measured’ military action?

Harper’s position on the current crisis is not simply pro-Israel. It’s a stand for the rights of powerful democracies such as Israel, the US, and the UK to inflict bloody hell on civilian populations in other less worthy countries in the name of the War on Terror.

He takes this position not only because he has to face a powerful pro-Israeli lobby back home, but because he aspires for Canada to join that club of powerful democracies, with real military might to throw around.

In Harper’s dreams Canada plays Robin to America’s Batman.

We need to support our allies, and we need to be strong to do it. Sometimes that’s going to mean Canadian jets blowing the crap out of civilian neighbourhoods, so it’s important to make it clear right now that such behaviour is OK, so long as it’s done by a modern, powerful democracy, and against undemocratic terrorists, or the civilians in terrorist neighbourhoods.

Harper’s military aspirations are mad, and threaten the safety of us all.

The experience of those powerful democracies he seeks to emulate demonstrates that there are awful consequences for protecting yourself with indiscriminate force.

People don’t just lie down and die. They resist war-mongering democracies with all the will that others have shown to resist dictators and kings, and no matter how out-gunned they are, they find a way to strike back.

In a further attempt to make good PR out of the deaths of innocents and the wanton destruction of civil infrastructure, Harper took a detour home from St. Petersburg with his personal jet to pick up a handful of stranded travellers and squeeze in a couple of easy photo-ops.

It’s a tribute to Conservative cynicism that he failed to take the more obviously useful step of getting out first and grabbing the next flight home, along with his entourage, including the photographers, and emptying several hundred seats, instead of just 60.

Canada could hardly be in a more desperate political state. In order to rid ourselves of a corrupt and complacent governing party we’ve handed power to a sinister gang whose only policy seems to be to echo whatever propaganda comes out of the most bellicose White House in modern history.

Canadians elected Harper and crew to a minority government, making it clear that most of the country wasn’t interested in a full dose of their ultra-right policies, but Parliament is in such a shambles today that the Reformers are able to do whatever they like, or rather, whatever the White House likes.

We need to be rid of this government soon, while we still have a country to argue over.

Never mind the “mood of the voters” and the country’s debilitating election-fatigue, surely the Canadian electorate isn’t such a spoiled brat that we’ll cavil at dumping this murderous crew because we’re not in the mood.

It’s bleak to consider that the most likely challenger on the horizon is yet another PowerCorp Liberal, but democracy is full of surprises.

Maybe for once Canada can bring some political imagination to the electoral process, and find some alternative other than the same tired old choices we’ve been facing for years.

It couldn’t be more obvious that Canada needs to dump these bums. It won’t be tomorrow, but soon. Please, soon.

Al Pope won the 2002 Ma Murray Award for Best Columnist in BC/Yukon.

His novel, Bad Latitudes, is available in bookstores.