Doing the Right Thing

Posted: November 21, 2006 in Politics
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I want to begin by thanking all of you who signed the petition at the Dominion Institutes’s web site. This afternoon Canada’s Parliament unanimously passed an NDP motion to offer the option of a full state funeral to the family of Canada’s last WWI veteran. With only three veterans of that war still alive and all of them over the age of 105, it was important that this be arranged as quickly as possible. My hope is that this sets a precedent and when the time comes a similar honour will be extended to the last remaing veteran of WWII as well. I also want to thank all the federal parties for putting aside their politics for one hour and doing the right thing. As my friend Ella commented, it proves that they can work together when they want to. It almost gives me hope.

Then just when I’m starting to feel hopeful they go and return to their old (current?) ways. It amazes me that when the opposition can’t find anything else to complain about they will actually criticize the government for doing the right thing.

This week Stephen Harper is under attack for his recent comments concerning China’s human rights record and in particular their imprisonment of Canadian
Huseyin Celil. As you know Celil is accused of being a terrorist by the Chinese government and is being held by them without allowing him access to consular officials. Celil was arrested in Uzbekistan in March while visiting his wife’s family. In June, he was extradited to China, where he could face the death penalty for an alleged involvement in “separatist” activities.

Meanwhile here in Canada all the opposition can do is complain about how Harper’s tough stand on China’s human rights record is jeopardizing Canada’s economic relationship with the Communist country. It would seem that fighting for human rights is okay with interim opposition leader Bill Graham only as long as it doesn’t get in the way of importing cheap electronics and sneakers from China.

All this tells me the Liberals haven’t learned thing from the Maher Arar affair. Are they going to allow another Canadian citizen to be tortured at the hands of a foreign government? Can they not see the total hypocrisy of their position on this?

Or are they sending the message that protecting Canadians accused of terrorism is a priority when doing so will poke a stick in the eye of American president George Bush; but, when doing so interferes with one of their favorite dictatorships it ranks much lower down?

I’m just glad that while the Liberals don’t seem to get the danger of trying to balance human rights and the almighty dollar, at least our Prime Minister does.

“We were very critical of past governments for not vocally defended the interests of Canadian citizens who had been mistreated abroad, and I think when it comes to general human rights I think we have a general obligation to express our values,” Harper said. “But when it comes to the specific case of a Canadian citizen who is being mistreated, we have an absolute moral obligation to defend those citizens and express our views.”

Of course, given the Liberal track record of dealing with dictatorships and human rights abusers around the world, I guess it’s understandable they don’t recognize that what they are criticizing Harper for this time is simply doing his job. Holding other governments accountable for how they treat Canadians is what a government is supposed to do. Let’s hope the Harper government keeps the job long enough to get it done.

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