This commentary was first published in Palestine Chronicle 2014 11 27.
Canada’s bizarre foreign/domestic policies entanglement.
Canada’s parliament is currently embroiled in a rather weird partisan sex scandal that makes all parties look like moral disasters (listen to Harper quote “Canadian values” now). While that has attracted all the attention of the media, a small news item emerged from RT News that managed to attract some small attention from the Canadian Press.
In a short item noted by the National Post, Canada’s representative at the Third Committee (1) of the UN General Assembly voted “No” for a policy statement with the voting title “Combatting glorification of Nazism, neo-nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”
According to the Post, “Canada objected because the resolution has a “narrow focus” and it draws on the controversial declarations of the 2009 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which Canada regards as anti-Semitic.” Well, no not really, as the focus of the statement is rather broad, and the declarations of the 2009 Durban Conference are not anti-Semitic and cover much territory.
The Post article continues with the Canadian spokesperson saying the resolution “regrettably includes references which are counterproductive to this goal, including by seeking to limit freedom of expression, assembly and opinion.” If the reader cares to read the resolution, it most certainly does not “limit freedom of expression, assembly and opinion.” Or is Canada becoming proud of its new fascistic warrior outlook in foreign policy?
The main irony from this article was the vote count. 115 states voted for the resolution, 3 opposed it, and 55 abstained. Given Canada’s unqualified support of Israeli actions against Palestinians, the full irony is that Israel voted “yes” while Canada voted “no” along with the Ukraine and the U.S. (2) It raises the question as to what is really going on with Canadian foreign/domestic policy - or are the Harper Conservatives just being their typical neoconservative knee-jerk uncritical unanalytical selves? It is difficult to tell.
The current resolution refers to many previous UN resolutions and documents, the Nuremberg trials, and states in part:
Alarmed, in this regard, at the spread in many parts of the world of various extremist political parties, movements and groups, including neo-Nazis and skinhead groups, as well as similar extremist ideological movements….
Reaffirms the relevant provisions of the Durban Declaration and of the outcome document of the Durban Review Conference, in which States condemned. the persistence and resurgence of neo-Nazism, neo-Fascism and violent nationalist ideologies based on racial and national prejudice and stated that those phenomena could never be justified in any instance or in any circumstances;
Expresses deep concern about the glorification, in any form, of the Nazi movement, neo-Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization, including by erecting monuments and memorials and holding public demonstrations in the name of the glorification of the Nazi past, the Nazi movement and neo-Nazism, as well as by declaring or attempting to declare such members and those who fought against the anti-Hitler coalition and collaborated with the Nazi movement participants in national liberation movements;
So Canada is voting “no” to protect its neo-Nazi self? Or to protect the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine? To pretend it thinks independently of Israel? To indicate it is still a willing follower of the U.S.? All of the above?
Because this vote refers to the Durban conference frequently, it might be best to look there.
Indigenous rights are mentioned frequently throughout the Durban statement. This presents a triple entendre for Canada. Its own record on indigenous rights is terrible. Its support of Israel denies the indigenous rights of the Palestinians. Its anti-Russian rhetoric denies the indigenous rights of the former Russian states of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Another interesting aspect of the Durban document are its statements about globalization. The negative effects could include “poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, cultural homogenization and economic disparities which may occur along racial lines.” Canada’s recent acquisition to ‘free’ trade agreements with China and the EU are anything but free, except for the corporations to rule within their own set of ‘laws’ while ignoring domestic laws - including the indigenous rights of Canada’s First Nations. I find it interesting how all these become entangled with one another.
As for Israel, the Durban document states, “We recall that the Holocaust must never be forgotten….” as well as a single statement on Palestine under the “Indigenous people” section:
We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion;
The document also includes statements about race, religion, women’s and children’s rights, xenophobia, discrimination, education and other elements of a just and fair society, hardly a “narrow focus.”
So what is Canada up to? Probably no good. Not denying fascism - in contradiction of its usual unqualified support of Israel; protesting against the recognition of the negative effects of globalization, in particular because of the “indigenous” components and its ramifications domestically and for Israel; attempting another poke in the eye for Putin (Russia voted “yes” for the document) while trying to be the tough guy on the block for the Ukrainian neo-Nazis.
Canada is trying to juggle multiple conflicting and entangled ideas. This document never made it to mainstream media - the Post only referenced it because RT News had picked it up and as the neo-cons main media support, was angling for anti-Putin comments on the blog. That would indicate the willingness of Canada’s mainstream media to avoid critical thinking and analysis of Canada’s entangled and bizarre foreign/domestic policies on multiple issues. As usual for the ‘new’ Canada, command and control affects the news.
Now as I was saying about sex between MPs….
(1) The General Assembly allocates to the Third Committee, agenda items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect people all over the world.
(2) The 55 abstentions were mostly EU/NATO countries, an interesting avoidance of concerns about their own rising right wing movements and their relationships with Russia vis a vis the Ukraine.