As a proud Canadian, it really is sad to see that while US President Barack Obama is playing in the big leagues with the big boys and girls, my own Prime Minister is still stuck in the minors. The political events of this week proves this point.
Harper's Words vs. Obama's Actions
If you skip the rhetoric, and go straight to the essence of PM Harper’s speech at the anti-Semitism conference, what he wanted to really say was: I lost the UN Security Council vote because Muslim nations didn’t vote for Canada. He contends that he still has "bruises" from his government's pro-Israeli stance.
My beef is not that I disagree with what Prime Minister Harper is saying. I too refuse to tolerate intolerance (against Jews and others).
Should the democratic world defend Israel against the demonizing and irrational opposition to its very existence? Yes, Israel is a genuine democracy. Should Israel continue to be a partner in the fight against religious extremism? Yes, Israel is an important ally to Canada. Is public criticism and debate over some of Israel’s policy decisions warranted? Yes, that's what happens in healthy democracies.
At the same time President Obama is currently visiting Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country in the world who practices a version of (Islamic) democracy which should be assisted and promoted. That’s right, Islam and democracy in the same sentence.
During this trip (including a visit to India) he has rightfully criticised Israel on the issue of settlement-building in East Jerusalem, publically supported India in their quest for a permanent Security Council seat, and is attempting to strengthen the political and economic ties with the Muslim world (mainly Indonesia).
My beef is this: in the next few months, Canada will once again engage in a national conversation regarding our role in Afghanistan (another Muslim country). We have been and will continue to fight for the minds and hearts of Muslim citizens in order to convince them that we are there to make their lives and country safer and better.
How can PM Harper, at home, be comfortable with scoring political points by rejecting the importance of relationships with Muslim nations; yet, abroad, expect our soldiers to put their lives on the line to defend and protect our Muslim brothers and sisters? This simply does not make any sense.
The difference between President Obama and PM Harper is that one man understands the complexity of international relations, while the other is intellectually bankrupt. If PM Harper really wants Canada to stand up for Israel, he should recognize that a good start would have been securing a seat at the most influential table in the world.