Tag Archives: foreign policy

#cdnpoli: Meet #Ukraine’s Svoboda Party #GPC #NDP #LPC #CPC

Meet the Svoboda Party

Since we have previously put together a fairly comprehensive summary regarding the Right Sector, we really wanted to grasp an understanding of the popularity that surrounds the Svoboda Party since they seem poised to not only win the May 25th elections, if there are indeed any, but may well gain a majority. The text of this doc below, aside from this brief hastily composed introduction, will be taken directly from the official Svoboda Party website itself along with the link. Upon reviewing their “program” one can see, if you have read the text of the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement, how the two cannot be reconciled for the most part as integration is not within their mandate, it is indeed the opposite. Not only that, but it may surprise you how different the Svoboda Party is compared to any of the political party’s that currently hold any power, could, “legitimacy” or presence in Canada or the US or the UK or the EU for that matter. They are indeed the anti-party that is anti-establishment and anti-status-quo which explains it’s popularity.

This will certainly cause many unforeseen (?) issues for many of the key players involved in the coup d’etat as the contagion will spread and cannot be isolated within the boundaries of Ukraine. That is why this look into the mandate of the Svoboda Party seems very important for many reasons since they already hold so many high level positions. In addition, it seems rather odd that that we are not being informed, due to the escalating anti-Russia and anti-Putin rhetoric and propaganda spins, about the situations occurring in many other regions of Ukraine, including what has been occurring in the so called pro-EU side, considering the new puppet regime was booed by the protesters as they were announced at Maidan.

It is worth noting that Ukraine is a far more diverse nation than is being reported and there are many minority groups and many in Ukraine speak Russian and other languages. They are Ukrainian citizens that are not necessarily pro-Russia or pro-Putin or anti-EU or anti_Ukraine and their voices are being ignored and silenced and are defiantly afraid for their safety and it is all because of the language they speak. They have been essentially used as scapegoats and media fodder by the Western powers and are faced with unimpeded violence at the hands of the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalist white supremacist groups. This in itself should be an indication that the newly installed government is illegitimate considering the State is not protecting them in any way shape or form, period. Quite the contrary, the State is allowing an unimpeded ethnic cleansing campaign to go unchallenged, which is a violation of not only the EU Integration agreement but international laws

We should also take into consideration the sudden and dramatic narrative shift away from Kiev and towards Crimea, that no matter how they spin it, seems to be very peaceful and orderly as it does not seem like any kind of invasion, but a response that was called for by the regional authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Crimea that have rejected the unconstitutional matter in which the previously and democratically elected government structure was dissolved and has scheduled a referendum.

All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” program – “Program for the Protection of Ukrainians”

The main purpose of the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” is to build a powerful Ukrainian State based on the principles of social and national justice. A state, which takes its rightful place among the leading countries and provides a continuous development of the Ukrainian nation.

In order to achieve this objective, The All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” proposes a clear plan of immediate priority steps.

І. Power and Society: Radical Clean-up and Fair System

1. Conduct lustration of the authorities. Depose from power the agents of KGB and government officials who held executive positions in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

2. Promulgate lists of the agents of the USSR KGB, who were or are in the state service of Ukraine and in other socially important positions.

3. Appoint released after the lustration vacancies to young professionals, graduates of Ukrainian universities, who are selected on the base of principles of patriotism and professionalism and special government administrative courses.

4. Establish mandatory policy for polygraph testing of government employees and candidates for elective office regarding their involvement in corruption, cooperation with foreign intelligence services and having dual citizenship.

5. Adopt a special anti-corruption law to control not only income, but also expenditures of public officials and their family members.

6. Implement as a principle in criminal law that “the greater the position, the higher the responsibility for the crime committed”.

7. Set the graph “nationality” in the passport and birth certificate. Determine the nationality by birth certificate or birth certificate of the parents, considering the requests of the citizen.

8. Implement a criminal penalty for any displays of Ukrainophobia.

9. Submit to public discussion the draft law on proportional representation in the executive branch of Ukrainians and representatives of national minorities.

10. Submit to public discussion the draft of the Constitution, according to which the Ukrainian state is a presidential republic, the President of Ukraine is the head of the state, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the direct head of the Government of Ukraine.

11. Reduce the term in office of the President of Ukraine to four years. (One and the same person can hold the office of President for no more than twice). To be elected as the President, one must be a citizen of Ukraine by birth, has lived in Ukraine for the last 20 years, has reached 35 years of age, who speaks and is fluent in the official language, has no criminal record and has not been brought to responsibility for anti-Ukrainian offenses.

12. Implement a proportional system of elections to the parliament with open lists. To be elected as a deputy, one must have been living in Ukraine for the last 10 years, reached 18 years of age, who speaks and is fluent in the official language, who is competent and has no criminal record.

13. Provide equal access for all electoral stakeholders to the media for their coverage of program provisions, debates and so on. Prohibit paid political advertising in the mass media three months before and throughout the campaign.

14. Oblige candidates for all elective offices to specify in their official biographies the nationality, all previous (from the Soviet era) party and government positions and convictions – repaid and unrepaid. Withdraw the registration of the candidates who concealed biographical facts or deprive deputies of their mandate, if the concealment was found after the election

15. Provide equal participation of representatives of all political parties participating in elections in the electoral committees.

16. Cancel parliamentary immunity from criminal and economic crimes. Prohibit bringing to responsibility deputies of all levels for their political positions, statements and voting nature (except for anti-Ukrainian, anti-state, and Ukrainophobian activity).

17. Limit the duration of the parliament and local councils from five to three years. Reduce the number of national deputies of Ukraine in the parliament to 300.

18. Implement fingerprint voting in order to ensure exclusively personal involvement of the deputies in the Parliament.

19. Restrict the increase of wages and other material rewards for deputies within the period of validity of their mandate.

20. Implement the election of local judges by the community for 5 years, appellate judges by the Congress of local judges for a period of 7 years, the Supreme Court by the Congress of Judges of Ukraine for 10 years.

21. Raise the age limit of judges to 30 years. A judge may be elected if he is a citizen of Ukraine who has experience in the field of law for at least 5 years, who is competent, has no criminal record, has been living in Ukraine for the last 10 years and who speaks and is fluent in the official language.

22. Provide transparent and publicly accessible functioning of the unified register of court decisions in order to ensure uniform application of the law by all courts of the state.

23. Provide compensation for moral and material damage incurred by a person through unlawful decisions and actions of state authorities and local government officials, at the expense of the perpetrators. The losses for a wrongful judgment must be compensated at the expense of the judge who approved it.

24. Submit to public discussion the draft law on a new three-tiered system of administrative-territorial structure of Ukraine, which consists of 300 counties and also cities, towns and villages.

25. Implement a majoritarian system of elections for deputies of village, town and city councils, a mixed proportional and majoritarian system for deputies of county councils.. To be elected as a deputy of the local council, one must be a citizen of Ukraine, who reached 18 years of a age on the election day, who is competent, has no criminal record and has been living in the community for at least 5 years.

26. Provide local communities with the right to elect every 3 years the village, town, city and district chairmen who heads the Executive Committee through secret, equal and direct voting. Elect village, town and district headmen in two rounds.

27. Provide the local communities with the right to withdraw deputies of local councils and local judges, to impeach the head of the executive committee, surveyor and the head of of Internal Affairs by referendum.

28. Ensure the increase of the role of local government by reallocating powers and financial resources between the central government and local governments on the basis of budgeting “from the bottom up”.

29. Introduce the practice of the widest direct democracy in local communities – referendums, plebiscites, general meetings and so on. Introduce the practice of the widest direct democracy in local communities – referendums, plebiscites, general meetings and so on. Conduct local referendums on vital issues. Introduce a mechanism for community veto on decisions of local governments.

30. Deepen the impact on the livelihood of the local government communities by creating house, street and block committees. Allow the division of land and new construction in populated areas only with the consent of the authorities, except in cases of national needs. Resolve disputed land and construction issues through local referenda.

31. Allow all mentally healthy citizens of Ukraine that have never been convicted of a crime to freely acquire and possess firearms and cold weaponry.

ІІ. Economy: Economic Independence and Social Justice

1. Conduct “energy audits” – carry out a complete inventory of mining sites and energy production of all types in Ukraine.

2. Adopt a national program of energy independence of Ukraine on the principle of “consumption reduction, production increase, source diversification.”

3. Diversify the import sources of energy resources: no more than 30% per provider (country). Implement and develop special trade programs (for example, the project “carbamide in exchange for liquefied gas”). Eliminate the monopoly of foreign energy companies on the Ukrainian market.

4. Establish strict proportional dependence of prices for Russian gas transit through Ukraine and the rent of underground gas storage facilities in accordance with the selling price of gas for Ukraine.

5. Achieve sales of Russian gas to European consumers in the east and not the west border of Ukraine.

6. Destroy corruption schemes in the energy sector. Establish transparent tenders for equipment for state-owned energy companies. Implement strict state control over the pricing in the oil and gas sector.

7. Adopt a national program to develop energy fields. Increase own gas and oil production, in particular by developing the sea shelf, including deposits abroad. Develop the coal industry as a priority area.

8. Create own closed nuclear cycle based on domestic raw materials. Construct public infrastructure necessary for the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

9. Adopt a national program of development and implementation of alternative energy: diesel fuel from coal, biofuel, wind, solar, hydropower (including recovery of small HPP networks) etc.

10. Develop and implement a national program to encourage energy-saving technologies. Switch to control heat measuring equipment of end users. Invest in heat supply technology. As a result, reduce the energy needs of the state and lower prices for utilities.

11. Adopt a law on strategic companies and strategic industries. Disallow the privatization of strategic enterprises and return to state ownership ones that were privatized earlier. Ensure state control over natural monopolies.

12. Check the legality of the privatization of all large enterprises (in which the average number of employees exceeds one thousand persons annually or the gross revenue from sales of the product in a year exceeds fifty million hryvnias). Return illegally privatized facilities to state and workers ownership.

13. Provide an opportunity to employees to acquire right of ownership of state and communal companies, participate in their management and fair distribution of profits. Allow employees to sell their share in the company exclusively to the appropriate company. Require employees who have stopped the employment relationship with the enterprise to sell their share to the enterprise.

14. Ensure the benefits of domestic investors over foreign ones in the privatization of state enterprises.

15. Return to state ownership privatized enterprises whose owners do not fulfill their social, investment and other commitments.

16. Allow transfer of long-term use of historical and cultural heritage objects for the purpose of restoring, preserving and efficient functionality, subject to the investor protection requirements of restoration and investment commitments. Suspend the use in case of non-compliance or liabilities.

17. Increase criminal penalties for crimes related to the seizure of enterprises, land and so on. Create a legal framework for combating illegal construction.

18. Adopt a new land code and approve it in national referendum. Conduct a complete inventory of land, buildings, and premises in Ukraine. Create a “Unified State Register of rights to immovable property and land” and to ensure its openness and transparency.

19. Prohibit agriculture land trade in Ukraine. Give it to long-term possession of Ukrainian citizens with the right of family inheritance. Determine legal grounds for termination of such possession in case of using the agricultural land for inappropriate purposes or in case of deterioration of the soil (fertility).

20. Establish criminal liability for soil erosion as a result of human actions. Strengthen criminal liability for illegitimate acquisition of soils.

21. Allow persons who acquired ownership of agricultural land by lawful means (when shared, or obtained by an inheritance by law) to sell these plots of land exclusively to the state. Disallow any other means of transfer of such sites. Disclaim the ownership of agricultural land acquired by debt receipts.

22. Obligate the citizens who wish to acquire land for agricultural purposes in an amount greater than 30 acres, to take a qualifying exam in the subject of the land’s activity.

23. Allow land ownership only of homestead land parcels and those under apartment buildings and other real estate. Do not allow ownership of land by foreigners and persons without citizenship.

24. Ensure the rent for the use of agricultural land to be in accordance with the regulatory assessment of the land.

25. Disallow change of use of agricultural land designation, except for state and public needs. Turn to the state ownership land that is not used for the purposes intended or used contrary to the comprehensive plans for sustainable rural development.

26. Adopt a law on increased land value to regulate its use and ensure public control over it.

27. Adopt a new tax code with socially fair simplified system of taxation. Simplify and improve tax administration and accounting.

28. Reduce the fiscal pressure on all sectors of the state, which produce national product, particularly small and medium enterprises. Establish progressive tax rate on the principle of “small business – low taxes, big business – big taxes.”

29. Cancel criminalized value added tax. Establish a single social tax on personal income taxation on a progressive scale and base rate of 20%. Do not tax the income of minimum wage. Set progressive luxury tax (real estate, luxury goods, etc.). Forward a minimum 30% of revenues from taxes on luxury to lower consumer prices of essential commodities.

30. Establish comprehensive tax incentive investments in science, education and innovation. Reduce income tax to 5% on the portion of profits that redirect to technological renovation of production means in accordance with advanced technology.

31. Provide maximal punishment for economic crimes, corruption and state job damages in especially large amounts. Fight for capital export in the offshore, including through the revision agreements on avoidance of double taxation of income and property.

32. Ensure state control over the banking sector (state-owned banks must have at least 30% of the banking capital of the country). Legally restrict usurious extortionate interest on bank loans for households and enterprises in Ukraine. Do not allow foreign persons to own controlling stakes of any private banks in Ukraine.

33. Ensure complete transparency and accessibility of the National Bank for law enforcement agencies. Restrict the independence of the National Bank during economical emergency situations, such as the economic crises, wars. Introduce criminal liability for antisocial monetary and other policies of the National Bank, which lead to the impoverishment of the general population. Adopt a law on state gold and currency reserves.

34. Prohibit the issuance of foreign currency loans (exception – business entities that carry out foreign trade activities). Transfer debt on loans issued to individuals in foreign currency into national currency at the exchange rate that was at the time the loan. Compensate for the difference at the expense of gross expenses of banks and foreign exchange reserves of the National Bank of Ukraine.

35. Eliminate the social gap between rich and poor by encouraging development of the middle class (small and middle businessmen, high-paying professionals, including public sector workers – doctors, teachers, etc.), which will amount to not less than 60% of the working population. Provide targeted public interest-free loans to start a business (SME) and to simplify the permitting system. Implement state program of economic education of citizens.

36. Adopt a new Law of Ukraine “On government procurements and state orders”, considering the benefits for the national manufacturers. Trade with state funds. Create a unified state Internet resource for the effective conduct of online-trading in the area of procurement.

37. Ensure revenues from the transit potential of Ukraine to the state budget and send them to construction of transport infrastructure.

38. Require to conduct construction of state and municipal facilities solely by national experts, thus creating working places for the citizens of Ukraine.

39. Implement targeted preferential government loans to small and medium agriculture, particularly to provide for agricultural manufacturers with means of production. Implement large-scale sectoral programs of direct grants. Provide government support for innovation in agriculture.

40. Adopt a national program for the development of agricultural equipment. Impose prohibitive import duties on agricultural machinery 5 years after its announcement, the equivalent of which is produced in Ukraine.

41. Develop the cooperative movement in rural areas in accordance with a separate comprehensive state program.

42. Create networks for sales of Ukrainian agricultural products.

43. Establish the parity of purchasing and selling prices for agricultural products. Provide food needs of the state exclusively through domestic agricultural products (except products that are not cultivated in the Ukraine).

44. Carry out an effective and transparent activity of the State Reserve and its activity on all agricultural markets. Provide agricultural manufacturers with government contracts for agricultural products. Rebuild the state system of storing agricultural products.

45. Adopt national development programs of breeding, seed production, plant protection, livestock breeding, horticulture, fish culture and so on. Conduct a complete inventory of appropriate production facilities.

46. Develop the social sector in rural areas. Ensure easily accessible preferential loans for the purchase and construction of housing in rural areas if the borrower participates in agricultural production and for budget employees.

47. Develop competitive sectors for Ukrainian industrial and innovation activities: food-processing (including recycling of foreign material), aircraft, shipbuilding, machine tools and machinery (energy, agriculture, etc.), military-industrial complexes and space industry. Direct government support for high-tech, knowledge-intensive, innovative, import substitution and vertically integrated industry.

48. Encourage gradual replacement of imported products with domestic ones (especially big and small agricultural machinery, light industry, food products).

49. Eliminate private monopolies and oligopolies in the Ukrainian economy.

50. Allow export of non-recoverable raw materials and derivative products only by corresponding licenses.

51. Adopt a law on privatization of housing in apartment blocks including land plots for houses, adjacent areas and joint ownership of citizens.

52. Reform housing and communal services. Stimulate the creation of condominiums. Ensure maintenance and exploitation of apartment buildings on competitive basis. Disallow foreign companies to serve condominiums. Introduce institute of certified managers of apartment buildings.

53. Return companies-monopolists of electricity, gas, heat, water supply and sanitation to communal ownership of territorial communities.

54. Implement a comprehensive state program for full utilization of solid domestic and biological waste.

55. Require building companies to build social housing at affordable prices in accordance with the government program. Create a state special fund for development of social housing. Implement a comprehensive program of reconstruction and gradual replacement of buildings built in the 1960-ies (“khrushchevskas”).

56. Adopt a new, socially just, Labor Code – Labor Code of Ukraine. Develop a tariffication scale of hourly wages in line with European standards. Set five-fold ratio between the maximum and minimum hourly wage in the public sector employees.

57. Support the development of effective independent trade unions. Ensure the right to strike.

58. Abolish the unjust pension reform, legitimize retirement age from life expectancy. Establish direct dependence of the amount of pension from work experience and the permissible five-fold ratio between the maximum and minimum pension for solidarity pension system.

59. Bring the living wage in line with the actual needs. Regularly review the living wage standards to maintain their relevance.

60. Provide disabled citizens and orphans government with targeted assistance in an amount not less than the subsistence minimum.

ІІІ. National Health: Overcoming the Demographic Crisis and Raising the Quality of Life

1. Implement long-term state program to promote healthy social life, including the promotion of mental and physical health, fighting drug addiction, alcoholism and smoking.

2. Implement obligatory state social health insurance that will provide a guaranteed basic package of urgent primary medical aid, provided free of charge at the expense of public health fund.

3. Implement a “Reproductive Health of the Nation” program. Disallow abortion except due to medical issues, and/or rape, which were proved in court. Align the implementation of illegal abortion to attempted murder in the criminal law.

4. Implement a policy of economic protectionism against domestic pharmaceutical industry and medical engineering. Ensure strict state control over the quality and price of medical products, especially imported.

5. Recover and return to state ownership Sanatorium and resort facilities. Prohibit realigning of sanatoriums. Prevent the privatization of the resort and sanatorium lands throughout Ukraine.

6. Adopt national housing program under which a family with three children receives state free loan, a family of four children – state free loan, 50% of which is refundable, a family with five children or more – free housing from state. Establish accessible government soft loans for housing for young families.

7. Increase the amount of payments to Ukrainian families for the birth of each additional child in accordance with inflation rates in the country and the growth of prices for baby products.

8. Ban advertising of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages in any form throughout Ukraine. Criminalize promotion of drug use (including so-called ‘soft drugs’) and sexual perversions.

9. Provide local communities the right to limit the sale of alcoholic beverages.

10. Set a special tax on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, genetically modified food. Direct the funds received to programs addressing social diseases (tuberculosis, oncological and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, HIV / AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction).

11. Create a network of modern laboratories for the analysis of food products for the presence of genetically modified organisms.

12. Allow sale of genetically modified food products only with special labeling that is clearly visible and only in specialized departments of retail establishments. Strengthen criminal penalties for non-compliance during labeling and trade of genetically modified foods.

13. Organize adequate state control over healthcare workers, sanitary working conditions and public safety in manufacturing.

14. Provide residents of regions of Ukraine, who were affected by anthropogenic pollution, with a status equal to that of Chernobyl residents.

15. Keep the existing reserve areas and parks intact and create new recreational areas.

16. Require raw material-intensive branches of large companies to conduct ecological modernization of production facilities.

17. Encourage the transfer beyond the settlements to a safe distance of all enterprises engaged in pollutant emissions into the environment.

18. Oblige physical and legal persons to compensate double the amount of damage caused to the environment.

IV. Citizenship and Migration: Right to a Homeland and Protection of the Living Space

1. Adopt a new Citizenship Act, under which citizenship will be given only to those persons who were born in Ukraine or are ethnically Ukrainian, who returned from abroad for permanent living and working in Ukraine. Allow people born in Ukraine from foreigners or stateless persons to acquire Ukrainian citizenship upon reaching age of majority only under the conditions of Ukrainian language fluency, knowledge of Ukrainian history and content of the Constitution of Ukraine.

2. Allow to acquire citizenship of Ukraine in exceptional cases, to persons who are legally residing in Ukraine for at least 15 years and are fluent in Ukrainian, have knowledge of Ukrainian history and content of the Constitution of Ukraine., took the oath of allegiance to Ukraine and abandoned all other nationalities. Disallow these persons’ right to acquire the citizenship of Ukraine, if they have criminal records.

3. Provide strict criminal liability for unlawful provision and obtaining of citizenship.

4. Eliminate the illegal practice of dual citizenship. Deprive of Ukrainian citizenship persons who hide that they are citizens of another state.

5. Confiscate property and capital goods acquired in Ukraine from offenders of the Citizenship Act to the state.

6. Facilitate the mass returning to Ukraine of ethnic Ukrainians. Ensure preferential terms for returning home of Ukrainians and their descendants born abroad.

7. Conclude bilateral agreements on the legalization of Ukrainian workers. Provide state protection of Ukrainians abroad by all possible means.

8. Create conditions for Ukrainian migrant workers to return home. Consider their earned money and property, provided that they invest in Ukrainian business, to be investments that are not taxed.

9. Eliminate the root cause of migration and demographic crisis – ensure the constitutional right to housing for every Ukrainian family.

10. Ban the adoption of Ukrainian children by foreigners.

11. Introduce symmetrical visa regime with other countries. Let visa-free entry to Ukraine to citizens of only those countries which have abolished visa requirements for citizens of Ukraine.

12. Establish stricter anti-immigration measures and improve the system of detention and deportation of illegal immigrants.

13. Strengthen state border protection and cut off channels of illegal migration.

14. Establish mandatory registration of foreign citizens who arrive on the territory of Ukraine, in the local bodies of Ministry of Internal Affairs. Establish, due to the threat of international terrorism and crime, a uniform biometric control system for everyone who enters Ukraine (database of fingerprints, eye retina, etc.).

15. Terminate agreement with the EU on readmission. Conclude with other states, from territories where illegal immigrants come to Ukraine, readmission agreements (return of illegal immigrants) on favorable conditions for Ukraine.

16. Provide place in higher educational institutions’ dormitories primarily for Ukrainian, not foreign students.

17. Carry out regular inspections of Foreigners Registration materials coming from schools with lists of students who actually enrolled in them. Ensure timely exit from the territory of Ukraine of foreign students who are expelled from schools.

V. Information Space and Education: Preserving National Identity and Cultural Development

1. Adopt the Law “On Protection of the Ukrainian language” instead of the current “On Languages in the Ukrainian SSR”. New State Language Policy Committee, responsible for the protection and distribution of Ukrainian language. Create a State Language Policy Committee, responsible for the protection and propagation of the Ukrainian language.

2. Regulate the use of the Ukrainian language in the media according to the number of Ukrainians – no less than 78% of their space and airtime.

3. Provide simultaneous official language audio translation of foreign performances, broadcasts and films on television and radio. Provide translation at the expense of the media owners.

4. Abolish tax on the Ukrainian book publishing, audio, video production and software.

5. Implement a mandatory Ukrainian language exam for civil servants and candidates for elected office. Require all state employees to use Ukrainian language at work and during public appearances.

6. Include in the programs of all universities in Ukraine a compulsory “Culture of Ukrainian language” course of not less than 72 hours.

7. Verify the language of instruction in all without exception training and educational institutions to be in accordance with the official status of the learning facilities. Revoke licenses of educational institutions if they have carried out teaching in foreign languages without proper registration status of the establishment of foreign language teaching. Cease the supply of textbooks and teaching materials in foreign languages at the expense of the State Budget of Ukraine in institutions that do not have official status of institutions with foreign language teaching.

8. Cultivate the best traditions of Ukrainian pedagogy. Discontinue the practice of mechanical copying of foreign models, including the Bologna Process.

9. Expand the network of preschool educational institutions. Provide each child access to Ukrainian preschool.

10. Restore and maintain the system of after-school facilities and children’s sports schools.

11. Implement a state program of soft loans for education. Provide graduates of secondary and higher education with first working place.

12. Adopt a state program of patriotic education and hardening the nature of the young generation. Provide active leisure and recreation for children and youth. Promote youth networks and patriotic organizations, sports groups, clubs, summer camps for children and youth.

13. Change the principles for candidate of science titles and PhDs and for structure of the Supreme Attestation Commission of Ukraine for ensuring real, not formal control over the quality of dissertations.

14. Encourage the return of Ukrainian scientists who moved abroad.

15. Establish incentive programs of cooperation between Ukrainian and leading foreign academic institutions.

16. Bring patent law of Ukraine in line with the leading international practice of patent law. Ensure that the researchers and developers receive no less than 25% of the amount from the sale of rights to a patent for their invention.

17. Remove soviet propagandistic literature from youth and public library funds. Purchase at the expense of the national budget works of literature, art, music, film to replenish libraries, museums, record libraries, video libraries, repertoire of theaters, music collectives and more.

18. Provide state scholarships and grants on competitive basis to carry out art projects, creations of national works of literature, art, music, movies, plays, concerts, TV programs and more.

19. Develop networks of concert halls, cinemas, bookshops, galleries and exhibition halls, providing favorable conditions for them to rent.

20. Introduce the protection issue of national information space within the competence of NSDC to deal with informational occupation of Ukraine. Create public radio and television, competitive Ukrainian film industry.

21. Deprive of licenses the media that violates language legislation, humiliates national dignity of Ukrainians, spreads misinformation or carries out anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

22. Require all media to inform the public about all of their owners (the press – in every issue, TV and radio – daily, during broadcast).

23. Increase import duty on foreign polygraphic, audio and video products. Implement a tax on foreign rebroadcasting of radio and television program products, copying and rental of music and film. Redirect the funds for the development to the national information space.

24. Direct every sixth hryvnia from profits from rental of foreign films to the development of the domestic film industry. Set tax on advertising, during the broadcast of foreign films, in favor of national cinema.

25. Increase mandatory quotas of airtime on radio and TV and screen time in cinemas for Ukrainian language audio-visual products produced in Ukraine and ensure its uniform presence on the air throughout the day. Implement strict criminal liability for failure to comply with the quota.

26. Establish tax relief on the development of advanced information technology and modern electronic networks. Eliminate oligopoly market of information technologies on the territory of Ukraine.

27. Create competitive Ukrainian operating system for computers based on current available systems with high-quality translation, reasonable ammount of Ukrainian fonts, implement customer support and security services. Establish a Ukrainian operating system in all government bodies and institutions.

28. Establish domestic production of Ukrainian-language software (especially specialized: for accounting, storing, school, office, etc.) for government agencies, educational institutions and for free sale. Require public institutions to use exclusively Ukrainian software.

29. Promote the establishment of a unified Ukrainian Local Church centered in Kiev.

VI. Historical Justice: State Building and Overcoming the Consequences of Occupation

1. Specify in the Constitution of Ukraine that the succession of modern Ukrainian state was established in Kievan Rus’, continued by Galicia-Volhynia, Cossack Hetman Republic period, Ukrainian People’s Republic, West Ukrainian People’s Republic, Carpathian Ukraine and the Ukrainian state, which was restored by the Act of June 30 1941, and that independent Ukraine emerged as a result of over three centuries of national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people.

2. Recognize the fact of occupation of Ukraine by Bolshevik Russia during 1918-91, which resulted in an unprecedented genocide of Ukrainians.

3. Achieve Ukrainian genocide recognition during the twentieth century from the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the United Nations, the European Parliament, the parliaments of the world, in which 20.5 million Ukrainians were killed, to be considered a crime against humanity (terror and looting of civilians during the war of UPR against Bolshevik Russia in 1918-1921; dekulakization and forced collectivization; artificial famine of 1921, 1932-33, 1947; several waves of Ukrainian elite killings in 1920-30-40’s and 1970’s; killing of civilians during the war, forced labor export of Ukrainians to foreign lands; “Operation Vistula”; torture in prisons and humiliation using punitive psychiatry on Ukrainian patriots until the collapse of the Soviet empire; robbing the national economy, historical and cultural values; robbery and destruction of Ukrainian churches; persecution on ethnic and religious grounds; the systematic destruction of Ukrainian culture and language; total Russification).

4. Open all the archives of Cheka-SPD-NKVD-MGB-KGB that are stored in the central archive and regional archives of the Security Service of Ukraine.

5. Renew criminal investigation into the Holodomor of 1932-33, which was recognized by the state as genocide of the Ukrainian people, a crime, to which the statute of limitations is not applicable. Carry out a public trial of communism. Obtain a court order to ban the communist ideology as misanthropic and one that has caused irreparable damage to the Ukrainian people.

6. Establish strict criminal liability for public denial of the Holodomor as genocide against the Ukrainian nation.

7. Abolish and prevent the use of imperial-Bolshevik symbols, commemorations of dates, monuments and names in honor of butchers of Ukraine. Prohibit the establishment of any imperial monuments and symbols in Ukraine that glorify the history of the occupants..

8. Set up a special investigative structure for tracing criminals who were destroying the Ukrainian nation, and after finding them bring them to justice.

9. Demand from Moscow official recognition, apology and compensation for the genocide of the Ukrainian people. Achieve from Russia the return of savings of the citizens of Ukraine (83 billion karbovanetses as of 1991). Insist on the transfer to Ukraine the rightful share of the Diamond fund, gold and foreign exchange reserves, foreign assets of the former USSR.

10. Pay compensation to repressed Ukrainians and their descendants in amounts corresponding to their suffering.

11. Provide Ukrainians from Kuban, Chełm Land, Nadsyannya, Podlasie, Lemko regions, which were forcibly evicted from their land, with status of deported peoples with all social guarantees.

12. Develop and implement a public education program “The Truth about the Ukrainian genocide.” Provide separate educational discipline “History of Ukrainian genocide in the twentieth century” in all schools.

13. Acknowledge that the struggle, which was taking place until the end of the 1950-ies by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), was a national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people. Acknowledge UPA soldiers and OUN underground fighters to be members of the national liberation struggle for independence of Ukraine.

14. Provide the veterans of UPA with proper privileges and compensate for the not added ones since the independence.

15. Abolish special pensions for servants of the Soviet regime, the executives of the Communist party, Komsomol and punitive authorities of the USSR.

16. Disseminate the truth about the Ukrainian liberation struggle in the twentieth century by means of social advertising, public parliamentary hearings, documentary and feature films, book publishing and more. Implement a course of studying the history of the Ukrainian liberation struggle in the twentieth century in all schools.

17. Establish a National Memorial Museum dedicated to the Ukrainian valour (the armed struggle for independence of the Ukrainian Nation).

18. Revive traditional Ukrainian holidays. Introduce state-level celebration on the second Sunday in May of traditional for the Ukrainians Mother’s Day.

19. Announce October 14 (St. Pokrova – patron saint of Ukrainian Cossacks, the day of the creation of UPA) to be a national holiday – the Day of Ukrainian Weaponry. Cancel celebration of 23th February – the so-called “Fatherland Defender Day” (of the Soviet army).

20. Facilitate the return of national, cultural, historical and other values to Ukraine exported abroad during periods of occupation.

VII. Foreign Policy and Defence: the European-Ukrainian Centrism and a Strong State

1. Determine the European Ukrainocentrism state strategic course according to which Ukraine aims to become not only the geographical, but also the geopolitical center of Europe.

2. Cease all participation of Ukraine in supranational formations launched by Moscow: Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Common Economic Space (CES), the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) and others.

3. Pay special attention to the only true geopolitical project, in which the main role is played by Ukraine – GUAM. Involve other countries in the Commonwealth from the Black Sea and Caspian Basin.

4. Direct foreign efforts to build closer political and economic cooperation with natural allies – the countries of Baltic-Black Sea geopolitical axis (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria, in the long term – Belarus et al.). Initiate mutually beneficial agreements between these countries and Ukraine in all strategic areas: trade and customs policy, energy security and transit, defense, etc.

5. Develop and implement an effective state program’s for positive image of Ukraine in the world. Involve through special government programs the numerous Ukrainian diasporas to lobby Ukrainian interests in other countries.

6. Complete delimitation (establish agreement) and demarcation (marking of border signs) of Ukraine national borders, including the sea. Set borders unilaterally in case of further delays by neighbors countries, including Russia. Ensure proper border security. Introduce a visa regime with Russia.

7. Demand from countries which declared the safety and security of the borders of Ukraine in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons (Budapest Memorandum, 1994), effective rather than paper guarantees. Conclude bilateral agreements with the U. S. and the UK for immediate full-scale military assistance to Ukraine in case of armed aggression against Ukraine.

8. Appeal to the General Assembly and the UN Security Council demanding statements to evaluate the possibility of pre-emptive nuclear strikes without declaring war.

9. Restore the nuclear status of Ukraine due to violations of the Budapest Memorandum by Russia (one of the guarantors of security of Ukraine): conflicts around Tuzla island and the Kerch Strait, direct threats, brutal political and economic pressure, regular attempts of officials to question the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Restore tactical missile and nuclear arsenal state. Appeal to the U. S. and the UK to promote and support the nuclear program in Ukraine.

10. Start real, not declarative actions that enable the integration of Ukraine into the European security structures: clean authority and power structures from the agents of Moscow; neutralize subversive organizations funded by Russia; delimit and demarcate the borders; destroy the pockets of separatism; neutralize all territorial claims to Ukraine; ensure the withdrawal of Russian military bases on Ukrainian territory; immediately reform and rebuild the Armed Forces and Naval Forces of Ukraine.

11. Demand from NATO member countries favorable conditions for Ukraine, clear guarantees and specific terms of possible entry of Ukraine into NATO. Develop and implement a parallel plan for Security and Defense of Ukraine.

12. Develop own system of missile attack warning and means of action in response to the independent or joint basis with other countries. Recover in its entirety the air defense system to protect the country’s entire airspace. Strengthen Air Defence to protect strategic facilities and populous cities. Appeal to Western countries to provide Ukraine for rent with mobile air defense system to deploy missile and air shields in exchange for intelligence of Ukrainian radar stations in Sevastopol and Mukachevo. This way, verify the real willingness of NATO to cooperate with Ukraine in the field of defense and security.

13. Set funding of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at 5% of GDP (to overcome technological backwardness of the Armed Forces from neighboring countries), given the urgent need for reforming and upgrading the troops. Reform the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including the navy and the aircraft, equip them with ships, aircraft, missile strike systems and air defense systems of the 4th and 5th generations, re-equip existing equipment (aircraft, ships) with modern weapons.

14. Restore the prestige of service in the Armed Forces and other military formations. Increase salaries of military personnel. Solve the problem of providing them with housing by providing soft loans for the state of its acquisition.

15. Rebuild own military-industrial complex for providing the Armed Forces of Ukraine with national modern weapons and effective participation of Ukraine in the global arms market. Integrate research institutions of the Armed Forces into the military-industrial complex of Ukraine. Provide priority studies on the establishment of the modern samples of high precision weapons and weapons that act on new physical principles. Establish favorable military-technical cooperation with other countries.

16. Ensure strict control over pricing and receiving the proceeds from arms sales to the state budget of Ukraine. Direct all proceeds from arms sales solely for defense. End the practice of mindless destruction of modern effective samples of armament at the request of other countries or their sale at the expense of Ukraine.

17. Develop and systematically implement by 2017 a new program of reform and construction of Ukrainian army that will provide real national defense. Create high-tech and professional contract army – the regular troops. Establish a national reserve of the Armed Forces.

18. Create a unified system of training and mobilization of reservists (on the Swiss model). Restore in its entirety the system of initial military training and civil defense in the secondary school and a network of military faculties in universities.

19. Create an effective counter-intelligence service to ensure the safety of the Ukrainian rear against saboteurs of the likely opponent.

20. Reorganize and strengthen the coast guard of the Black Sea. Set in the strategically important areas on the Black Sea-Azov coast of Ukraine anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles to protect the body of water, place modern air defense missile systems to cover military coast guard and Marine Corps’s naval forces. Increase the number of troops in the Crimea, re-equip them with modern rocket artillery and armored vehicles for rapid deployment and countering possible aggression.

VIII. Crimea and Sevastopol: Establishing a Constitutional Order and Ensuring Stable Development

1. Submit to nationwide referendum the change of status of the Crimea from autonomous to regional and abolish the special status of Sevastopol.

2. Provide Sevastopol with the right of free port. Implement preferential tax treatment for resort and recreational economic activity in the Southern and Western coast of Crimea.

3. Terminate “Kharkiv agreements” between Yanukovych and Medvedev of April 21, 2010.

4. Develop a program at the level of National Security Council on unilateral actions of Ukraine in case of failure of obligations on the withdrawal of the Black Sea Fleet from the territory of Ukraine until 2017. Demand the immediate withdrawal of the Black Sea Fleet from Crimea, if the Russian Federation further violates the laws of Ukraine and the signed international agreements.

5. Create Ukrainian checkpoints at all sites, leased by the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Disallow foreign military personnel in military uniform to move outside of leased military bases of foreign countries on the territory of Ukraine(except for official delegations).

6. Raise the flag of Ukraine over all the objects rented by the Black Sea Fleet and set the procedures for the use of foreign state symbols on the territory of Ukraine in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine and international standards.

7. Ensure immediate enforcement of all decisions of the Ukrainian courts regarding the removal of Ukrainian property from illegal use by the Black Sea Fleet. Appeal to judicial instances with claims for compensation related to these losses. Conduct a thorough inventory of the property, buildings and territories used by the Black Sea Fleet.

8. Implement unilaterally and in accordance with international standards the recalculation of rental rates for the Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine.

9. Strengthen the protection of the state border in the Azov and Black Seas. Ensure strict customs controls for all cargoes that enter the territory of Ukraine through Black Sea Fleet.

10. Implement continuous unimpeded professional inspections of military facilities the Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine for compliance with the laws of their operation and Ukraine signed international agreements. Demand from the Russian Federation detailed quarterly reports on their residence in Ukraine (including the territorial waters and the continental shelf) weapons and ammunition.

11. Make a complete revision of property rights and land use rights and property of objects in the Crimea.

12. Restore the right for unrestricted use of land areas in accordance with applicable law – beaches and coastal zones in the hundred-meter zone from the flow line.

13. Adopt a state program of integration into Ukrainian society of the Crimean part that would foresee economic, transport, cultural, informational and educational integration.

14. Implement state programs representing Ukrainian culture and art in the Crimea. Provide on competitive basis centers of Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian media in Crimea, supported by the state.

15. Ensure that the Ukrainians of the Crimea have free access to Ukrainian media and bookstores through targeted subsidies from the state budget.

16. Ensure that the Ukrainians of the Crimea have the opportunity to freely receive education in their mother tongue in secondary, vocational and higher education establishments.

Approved by the Constituent Congress of SNPU on September 9th, 1995, with amendments and additions made by

The ninth Congress of SNPU on February 14th, 2004,

The twentieth Congress of the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” on May 24th, 2009,

The twenty-third Congress of the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” on December 24th, 2011

Registered by order number 1470/5 of Ministry of Justice of Ukraine on August 12th, 2009.

source: http://en.svoboda.org.ua/about/program/

After reviewing the above Svoboda Party “program” it would be a good idea to review the overview of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement titled “Guide to the Association Agreement” for a deeper understanding of the point we are attempting to articulate.

EU-Ukraine Association Agreement
“Guide to the Association Agreement”

++++ Background:

Relations between the EU and Ukraine are currently based on the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) which entered into force in 1998. At the Paris Summit in 2008 the leaders of the EU and Ukraine agreed that an Association Agreement should be the successor agreement to the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement.

The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA) is the first of a new generation of Association Agreements with Eastern Partnership countries. Negotiations on this comprehensive, ambitious and innovative Agreement between the EU and Ukraine were launched in March 2007. In February 2008, following confirmation of Ukraine’s WTO membership, the EU and Ukraine launched negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) as a core element of the Association Agreement.

At the 15th Ukraine-EU Summit of 19 December 2011, the EU leaders and President Yanukovych noted that a common understanding on the text of the Association Agreement was reached.

On 30 March 2012 the chief negotiators of the European Union and Ukraine initialled the text of the Association Agreement, which included provisions on the establishment of a DCFTA as an integral part. In this context, chief trade negotiators from both sides initialled the DCFTA part of the Agreement on 19 July 2012. Both EU and Ukraine expressed their common commitment to undertake further technical steps, required to prepare conclusion of the Association Agreement.

++++ Political association and economic integration:

The Association Agreement will constitute a new stage in the development of EU-Ukraine contractual relations, aiming at political association and economic integration and leaving open the way for further progressive developments. The AA provides for a shared commitment to a close and lasting relationship, based on common values, in particular full respect for democratic principles, rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

> Wide range of sector cooperation: This ambitious and pioneering Agreement is a concrete way to exploit the dynamics in EU-Ukraine relations, focusing on support to core reforms, on economic recovery and growth, governance and sector co-operation in more than 30 areas, such as energy, transport, environment protection, industrial and small and medium enterprise (SME) cooperation, social development and protection, equal rights, consumer protection, education, training and youth as well as cultural cooperation.

> Trade and Trade related matters (DCFTA): Closer economic integration through the DCFTA will be a powerful stimulant to the country’s economic growth. Approximation of Ukraine to EU legislation, norms and standards, will be the method. As a core element of the Association Agreement, the DCFTA will create business opportunities in both the EU and Ukraine and will promote real economic modernization and integration with the EU. Higher standards of products, better services to citizens, and above all Ukraine’s readiness to compete effectively in international markets should be the result of this process.

> Mobility: The importance of the introduction of a visa free travel regime for the citizens of Ukraine in due course,

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provided that the conditions for well-managed and secure mobility are in place is recognised in the Agreement.

++++ Content of the Association Agreement

The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement counts in total over 1200 pages and comprises of

> A Preamble as an introductory statement of the Agreement, setting out the Agreement’s purpose and underlying philosophy;

> Seven Titles which concern General Principles; Political Cooperation and Foreign and Security Policy; Justice Freedom and Security; Trade and Trade related matters (DCFTA); Economic and Sector Cooperation; Financial Cooperation with Anti-Fraud Provisions, as well as Institutional, General and Final Provisions;

> 43 Annexes setting out EU legislation to be taken over by a specific date and

> Three Protocols.

The Association Agreement in a nut-shell:

> The AA aims to accelerate the deepening of political and economic relations between Ukraine and the EU, as well as Ukraine’s gradual integration in the EU Internal Market including by setting up a DCFTA.

> The AA is a concrete way to exploit the dynamics in EU-Ukraine relations, focusing on support to core reforms, on economic recovery and growth, governance and sector co-operation.

> The AA constitutes also a reform agenda for Ukraine, based around a comprehensive programme of Ukraine’s approximation of its legislation to EU norms, around which all partners of Ukraine can align themselves and focus their assistance.

> The AA negotiations were not a stand-alone exercise: EU assistance to Ukraine is linked with the reform agenda as it emerges from the result of negotiations. The Comprehensive Institutional Building Programme (CIB) is particularly important in this regard.

++++ Preamble

The PREAMBLE is a selection of the most important areas/facts pertinent to EU-Ukraine relations. It sets out the ambition for a close and lasting relationship. Although it has a non-binding introductory character, it presents important references to common values and could be perceived as a “scene-setter” for the Agreement.

The elements which are set out in the Preamble include among others:

> A reference to common values on which the EU is built – namely democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and rule of law – and which are shared by Ukraine.

> A reference that Ukraine is recognised as a European country which shares a common history and common values with the Member States of the EU.

> A reference to the European aspirations of Ukraine. The EU welcomes Ukraine’s European choice, including its commitment to build deep and sustainable democracy and a market economy.

> An acknowledgement that the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the EU will depend on progress in the implementation of the Association Agreement as well as Ukraine’s track record in ensuring respect for common values, and progress in convergence with the EU in political, economic and legal areas.

++++ Title I: General Principles

Title I defines the general principles which will form the basis for the domestic and external policies of the Association between the EU and Ukraine namely:

> Respect for democratic principles, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.

> The promotion of respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, inviolability of borders and independence, as well as countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are set out. Moreover, the principles of a free market economy, good governance, the fight against corruption, the fight against different forms of trans-national organised crime and terrorism, the promotion of sustainable development as well as effective multilateralism are central to enhancing the relationship between the EU and Ukraine and will underpin their relationship.

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++++ Title II: Political dialogue and reform, political association, cooperation and convergence in the field of foreign and security policy

In Title II, the Association Agreement foresees the intensification of the EU-Ukraine political dialogue and cooperation in view of gradual convergence in the area of Common Security and Foreign Policy (CSFP) as well as Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).

> Title II covers issues such as the aims of political dialogue, dialogue and cooperation on domestic reform as well as foreign and security policy.

> The Agreement foresees several fora for the conduct of political dialogue: the EU-Ukraine Summit will present the highest level of political dialogue. At ministerial level the dialogue will be conducted within the Association Council. The political dialogue will aim inter alia:

>> to deepen political association and increase political and security policy convergence and effectiveness;

>> to promote international stability and security based on effective multilateralism;

>> to strengthen cooperation and dialogue on international security and crisis management, notably in order to address global and regional challenges and key threats;

>> to foster result-oriented and practical cooperation for achieving peace, security and stability on the European continent;

>> to strengthen respect for democratic principles, the rule of law and good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, non-discrimination of persons belon ing to minorities and respect for diversity, and to contribute to consolidating domestic political reforms.

> Title II dedicates a specific article on the International Criminal Court and calls on the cooperation of the EU and Ukraine in promoting peace and international justice by ratifying and implementing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and its related instruments.

++++ Title III: Justice, Freedom and Security

Title III covers issues concerning the rule of law and respect for human rights; protection of personal data;

cooperation on migration, asylum and border management; treatment of workers; mobility of workers; movement of persons; money laundering and terrorism financing; cooperation on the fight against illicit drugs; the fight against crime and corruption; cooperation in fighting terrorism and legal cooperation.

> The EU and Ukraine commit through the Association Agreement to increase their dialogue and cooperation on migration, asylum and border management. The importance of the introduction of a visa free travel regime for the citizens of Ukraine in due course, provided that the conditions for well-managed and secure mobility are in place is recognised in the Agreement

> The commitment to combating organised crime and money laundering, to reducing the supply of and demand for illicit drugs and to stepping up cooperation in the fight against terrorism is also reflected in the Agreement.

> The wish to enhance people-to-people contacts is explicitly set out.

++++ Title IV: Trade and Trade-Related Matters
The EU is Ukraine’s main commercial partner and accounts for 31% of its external trade, ahead of Russia (2010).

Closer economic integration through the DCFTA will be a powerful stimulant to the country’s economic growth. As a core element of the Association Agreement, the DCFTA will create business opportunities in Ukraine and will promote real economic modernization and integration with the EU. Higher standards of products, better services to citizens, and above all Ukraine’s readiness to compete effectively in international markets should be the result of this process.

> Hence the DCFTA Title IV of the Association Agreement is dedicated to Trade and Trade Related Matters. Through a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area economic integration is envisaged.

> The DCFTA, linked to the broader process of legislative approximation will contribute to further economic integration with the European Union’s Internal Market. This includes the elimination of almost all tariffs and barriers in the area of trade in goods, the provision of services, and the flow of investments (especially in the energy sector). Once Ukraine has taken over the relevant EU acquis, the EU will grant market access for example in areas such as public procurement or industrial goods.

> The DCFTA will provide for a conducive new climate for economic relations between the EU and Ukraine. New

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trade and investment opportunities will be created and competition will be stimulated. All these elements are factors crucial to economic restructuring and modernisation. As regards the impact of a removal of customs duties entailed by the DCFTA, experience has shown that this short-term loss of import charges will be more than compensated for by the increased revenue received by the state from indirect taxes paid by companies seizing new market opportunities and by the general boost to the economy. The budget spending on legal and institutional reforms in trade-related areas is or will be supported by the EU along with funds from International Financial Institutions. The DCFTA once in force will provide tariff cuts which will allow the economic operators of both sides to save around 750 millions euros per year in average (most of the customs duties being lifted)

++++ Title V: Economic and sector cooperation

Title V comprises 28 chapters in the fields of energy cooperation; macro-economic cooperation; management of public finances; taxation; statistics; environment; transport; space; cooperation in science and technology; industrial and enterprise policy; mining and metals; financial services; company law, corporate governance, accounting and auditing; information society; audio-visual policy; tourism; agriculture and rural development; fisheries and maritime policy; Danube river; consumer protection; cooperation on employment, social policy and equal opportunities; public health; education, training and youth; culture, sport and physical activity; civil society, cross-border and regional cooperation; participation in European Agencies and Programmes, based on gradual approximation with the EU acquis and also – where relevant – with international norms and standards.

++++ Title VI: Financial cooperation, with anti-fraud provisions

The European Union and its Member States continue to be the largest donor to Ukraine: since 1991, assistance provided by the European Union alone has amounted to over €2.5 billion. The European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI) allocates € 470 million to Ukraine for the years 2011-2013. This goes to support action in three priority areas: good governance and the rule of law; facilitating the entry into force of the Association Agreement, and sustainable development, including energy and environment. This amount includes funding under the Eastern Partnership for the Comprehensive Institution Building programme (€ 43.37 million). The latter is designed to improve the administrative capacity of partner countries and their compatibility with EU institutions, for instance through twinning programmes, professional training and secondment of personnel.

> Ukraine will benefit from EU Financial Assistance through existing funding mechanisms and instruments in order to achieve the objectives of the Association Agreement.

> The future priority areas of the EU Financial Assistance to Ukraine will be laid down in relevant indicative programmes reflecting agreed policy priorities between the EU and Ukraine. The indicative amounts of assistance will take into account Ukraine’s needs, sector capacities and progress with reforms.

> EU assistance will be implemented in close cooperation and coordination with other donor countries, donor organisations and International Financial Institutions (IFI), and in line with international principles of aid effectiveness. Through the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF), to which Ukraine is eligible IFI investments could be leveraged. The NIF aims at mobilising additional funding to cover the investment needs of Ukraine for infrastructures in sectors such as transport, energy, the environment and social issues (e.g. construction of schools or hospitals).

> The Agreement lays down that the EU and Ukraine will take effective measures to prevent and fight fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities.

++++ Title VII: Institutional, general and final provisions

The Association Agreement foresees a tailor-made institutional set up for EU-Ukraine relations.

> At the top level, the EU-Ukraine Summit will be established: The Summit will present the highest level of political dialogue and will be a platform for meetings between Presidents.

> At ministerial level, the dialogue will be conducted within the Association Council which could meet in any configuration. The Association Council will have the power to take binding decisions.

> The Association Council will be assisted in the performance of its duties by an Association Committee. The Association Committee will create Subcommittees to implement sector cooperation. Meeting in a special format, the Association Committee will address the specific DCFTA issues.

> The Association Agreement also foresees a parliamentary dimension, notably by establishing a Parliamentary Association Committee. It will be a forum for Members of the European Parliament and the

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Parliament of Ukraine to meet and exchange views.

> Another important element of the Association Agreement is the promotion of regular civil society meetings. Hence, a dedicated Civil Society Platform will be established. The Platform will be able to make recommendations to the Association Council.

In order to ensure the correct implementation of the Association Agreement, the Agreement texts sets out some general and final provisions. A selection of these provisions is set out below:

> One key provision underpinning the Association Agreement sets out the concept of gradual approximation of Ukraine’s legislation to EU norms and standards. Specific timelines are set within which Ukraine should approximate its legislations to the relevant EU legislation. These timelines vary between 2 and 10 years after the entry into force of the Agreement.

> Another guiding provision sets out the concept of dynamic approximation. There was a need to set out this concept as the EU law and legislation is not static but under constant evolution. Thus the approximation process will be dynamic and should keep pace with the principal EU reforms, but in a proportionate way, taking account of Ukraine’s capacity to carry out the approximation.

> In order to examine whether the commitments as set out in the Association Agreement are met, dedicated provisions related to monitoring were included in the Agreement. Monitoring means here to supervise the application and implementation of the Association Agreement, its objectives and commitments. It is a continuous appraisal of progress in implementing and enforcing measures and commitments covered by the Association Agreement. This monitoring process will be of a particular importance for the DCFTA as its positive result will be the prerequisite of any further market opening for the Ukrainian economic operators

> Monitoring will include the assessments of approximation of Ukraine’s legislation to the EU acts (and where applicable international instruments) as defined in the Association Agreement.

> The Association Agreement also sets out a Dispute Settlement Mechanism. This mechanism would come into effect if obligations under the Association Agreement are not fulfilled by one of the Agreement Parties. For the DCFTA part, another binding trade specific Dispute Settlement Mechanism is set out in form of a dedicated protocol. This trade specific mechanism is inspired by traditional WTO dispute settlement mechanism.

> The duration of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is unlimited. At the same time the Parties will undertake a comprehensive review of the achievement of objectives under the Agreement within five years. It should be noted that the text of the AA will be drawn up in 22 EU Member States languages as well as in Ukrainian.

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If after reviewing the above Svoboda Party “program” and the “Guide to the Association Agreement” does not adequately answer enough questions, the full text may give a broader understanding of how they cannot be reconciled and what really lies ahead for Ukraine.



Contracting Parties to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, hereinafter referred to as the ‘Member States’,
THE EUROPEAN UNION, hereinafter referred to as ‘the Union’ or ‘the EU’ and
THE EUROPEAN ATOMIC ENERGY COMMUNITY, hereinafter referred to as ‘the
on the one part, and


on the other part,
Hereafter jointly referred to as ‘the Parties’,

– TAKING ACCOUNT of the close historical relationship and progressively closer links between the Parties as well as their desire to strengthen and widen relations in an ambitious and innovative way;
– COMMITTED to a close and lasting relationship that is based on common values, that is respect for democratic principles, rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, non-discrimination of persons belonging to minorities and respect for diversity, human dignity and commitment to the principles of a free market economy, which would facilitate the participation of Ukraine in European policies;
– RECOGNIZING that Ukraine as a European country shares a common history and common values with the Member States of the European Union (EU) and is committed to promoting those values;
– NOTING the importance Ukraine attaches to its European identity;
– TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the strong public support in Ukraine for the country’s European choice;
– CONFIRMING that the European Union acknowledges the European aspirations of Ukraine and welcomes its European choice, including its commitment to build deep and sustainable democracy and a market economy;
– RECOGNIZING that the common values on which the European Union is built – namely democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and rule of law – are also essential elements of this Agreement;
– ACKNOWLEDGING that the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union will depend on progress in the implementation of the current Agreement as well as Ukraine’s track record in ensuring respect for common values, and progress in convergence with the EU in political, economic and legal areas;
– COMMITTED to implementing all the principles and provisions of the United Nations Charter, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in particular of the Helsinki Final Act [of 1975], the concluding documents of the Madrid and Vienna Conferences of 1991 and 1992 respectively, the Charter of Paris for a New Europe [of 1990], the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights [of 1948] and the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [of 1950];
– DESIROUS of strengthening international peace and security as well as engaging in effective multilateralism and the peaceful settlement of disputes, notably by closely cooperating to that end within the framework of the United Nations (UN) and the OSCE and the Council of Europe (CoE);
– COMMITTED to promoting the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders;
– DESIROUS of achieving an ever closer convergence of positions on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest, taking into account the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP);
– COMMITTED to reaffirming the international obligations of the Parties, to fighting against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and to cooperating on disarmament and arms control;
– DESIROUS of moving forward the reform and approximation process in Ukraine forward, thus contributing to gradual economic integration and deepening of political association;
– CONVINCED of the need for Ukraine to implement the political, socio-economic, legal and institutional reforms necessary to effectively implement this Agreement and committed to decisively supporting those reforms in Ukraine;
– DESIROUS of achieving economic integration, inter alia through a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) as an integral part of this Agreement, in compliance with rights and obligations arising out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership of the Parties, including through extensive regulatory approximation;
– RECOGNIZING that such a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, linked to the broader process of legislative approximation, shall contribute to further economic integration with the European Union Internal Market as envisaged in this Agreement;
– COMMITTED to developing a conducive new climate for economic relations between the Parties, and above all for the development of trade and investment and stimulating competition, factors which are crucial to economic restructuring and modernisation;
– COMMITTED to enhancing energy cooperation, building on the commitment of the Parties to implement the Energy Charter Treaty [of 1994];
– COMMITTED to enhancing energy security, facilitating the development of appropriate infrastructure and increasing market integration and regulatory approximation towards key elements of the EU acquis, promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources as well as achieving a high level of nuclear safety;
– COMMITTED to increasing dialogue – based on the fundamental principles of solidarity, mutual trust, joint responsibility and partnership – and cooperation on migration, asylum and border management, with a comprehensive approach paying attention to legal migration and to cooperating in tackling illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings and the efficient implementation of the readmission agreement;
– RECOGNISING the importance of the introduction of a visa free travel regime for the citizens of Ukraine in due course, provided that the conditions for well-managed and secure mobility are in place;
– COMMITTED to combating organised crime and money laundering, to reducing the supply of and demand for illicit drugs and to stepping up cooperation in the fight against terrorism;
– COMMITTED to enhancing cooperation in the field of environmental protection and to the principles of sustainable development;
– DESIROUS of enhancing people-to-people contacts;
– COMMITTED to promoting cross-border and inter-regional cooperation;
– COMMITTED to gradually approximating Ukraine’s legislation with that of the Union along the lines set out in this Agreement and to effectively implementing it;
– TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that this Agreement shall not prejudice and leaves open future developments in EU-Ukraine relations;
– CONFIRMING that the provisions of this Agreement that fall within the scope of Part III, Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union bind the United Kingdom and Ireland as separate Contracting Parties, and not as part of the European Union, unless the European Union together with the United Kingdom and/or Ireland jointly notify Ukraine that the United Kingdom or Ireland is bound as part of the European Union in accordance with Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of Freedom, Security and Justice annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. If the United Kingdom and/or Ireland ceases to be bound as part of the European Union in accordance with Article 4a of the Protocol No. 21, the European Union together with the United Kingdom and/or Ireland shall immediately inform Ukraine of any change in their position in which case they shall remain bound by the provisions of the Agreement in their own right. The same applies to Denmark, in accordance with Protocol No. 22 on the position of Denmark, annexed to those Treaties.



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#Censorship + #Harper + #Israel vs #Palestine – (#GolanHeights + #Syria) = #cdnpoli #Error404

Chronology of Events leading up to Stephen Harper and the Harper Regime’s hurried trip to Israel

The premise of this investigative chronological summary timeline is based upon the questions and evidence raised after reviewing and following up on an couple of articles recently published, Conservative party launches website to promote Stephen Harper’s first official Middle East trip by Jason Fekete, Published January 14, 2014 and Foreign Affairs website at odds with PMs comments in support of Israel, group says By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News January 15, 2014, regarding the current Harper Government’s Foreign Policy vs. the previous Canadian Government’s Foreign Policy as it relates to Israels economy, the Occupied Territories and Golan Heights.

The timing of a couple of hastily, oddly removed and edited, censored information, that were previously accessible and available via the official tax-payer funded Government of Canada’s websites that are currently being redirected to 404 “Page Not Found” error pages. Along with the PMO based Senate Scandal and past Harper Party electoral shenanigans, the timeline of this censorship is suspicious at best. Once combined with couple of new dedicated websites launched by the Harper Party that utilize taxpayer-funded government assets to promote support for Israel while propagandizing it’s foreign policies domestically and abroad, it gets worse considering how the Harper Government treats Canada’s Veterans.

This certainly appears to be a coup d’etat of sorts by Big Oil driven Fracking special interest groups in an apparent effort to capitalize on the chaotic and deadly situation in Syria, that was encouraged and instigated by the Harper Regime, in-order to subversively exploit the occupied Golan Heights while leveraging, manipulating and diverting Asian, Middle Eastern, African political support and financial assets between various taxpayer-funded government missions and groups domestically and abroad.

Questions to Ponder

  • Who is currently dictating and scripting Canada’s Foreign Policy and who is benefiting from this speculative Economic Diplomacy?
  • What are the costs and motivators behind the timeline and sequence of events?
  • When was the recently updated propaganda narrative mandated?
  • Where is the investment funding coming from and where will the profits go?
  • Why is there so much secrecy in the present and censorship of the past?
  • How does this “timing” affect Canada and Canadian interests in the future?

Please review the following trilogy of topics and chronological sequence of articles, archives, caches and snapshots of retrieved pages, paying close attention to the removed text, links and information from the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada websites:

Canada and the Middle East Peace Process

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East: Canada’s Explanation of Vote: The Syrian Golan

August 2011

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Date Modified: 03Jun2011
Date Cached: 11Aug2011
Date Retrieved: 15Jan2014
Note that the text and link to the “Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East” is included.

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Cached 11Aug2011

March 2012

Syria’s Assad ‘must go,’ Baird warns

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird condemned the continued violence and aid impasse in Syria as heavy shelling continued in Homs over the weekend, saying that Canada is considering new measures to make clear that Syrian president Bashar Assad “must go.”

By Edmonton Journal March 5, 2012

July 2012

Two Sides of the Same Flag: How Israel’s Natural Gas Will Change the World

By Marin Katusa, 17 Jul 2012

August 2012

The Russian gas giant that haunts Europe – and Israel

Visiting Russian leader Valdimir Putin last month reportedly proposed bilateral energy cooperation, but a Haifa University expert warns that partnerships with the state-owned company are not of equals.

By Avi Bar-Eli | Aug. 1, 2012 | 5:20 AM

September 2012

Israel and Russia join forces over gas

Lawrence Solomon | September 7, 2012 9:00 PM ET

Syria rebels get tactical help from Toronto IT specialist Behind the scenes, armchair military strategists from U.S., Canada crowdsource a war

CBC News Posted: Sep 26, 2012 9:46 PM ET Last Updated: Sep 26, 2012 9:43 PM ET

Crowdsourcing a War

The National | Sep 26, 2012

October 2012

Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East

UN Votes and Statements

Please note that “59th Session: 2004” currently redirects to a 404 “Page Not found” error message.
Date Modified: 01Mar2012
Date Cached: 20Oct2012
Date Retrieved: 15Jan2014


Canada’s Explanation of Vote

The Syrian Golan

Date Modified: 17Jun2009
Date Cached: 20Oct2012
Date Retrieved: 15Jan2014
Please note that “UN Votes and Statements General Assembly 59th Session: 2004” currently redirects to a 404 “Page Not found” error message.

Canada's Explanation of Vote The Syrian Golan: Cached 20Oct2012

February 2013

Israel approves drilling in contested Golan Heights ahead of Obama visit Provided by The Canadian Press

By Canadian Press | Feb 21, 2013

Israel grants Golan exploration licence

By John Reed in Jerusalem, February 21, 2013 2:27 pm

Israeli Licence to Cheney-Linked Energy Firm on Golan Heights Raises Eyebrows

By Jim Lobe | WASHINGTON, Feb 23 2013

April 2013

Canada and the Middle East Peace Process

Date Modified: 26Oct2012
Date Cached: 26Apr2013
Date Retrieved: 15Jan2014
Note that the text and link to the “Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East” is included.

Canada and the Middle East Peace Process: Cached 26Apr2013

Israel in gas talks with Russia

Russian companies are examining options of participating in the development of Israeli gas, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

29 October 13 14:48, Amiram Barkat

May 2013

Canada and Israel — best friends forever?

Why is Ottawa so extraordinarily supportive of the Jewish state? Has the Harper administration gone too far, and cost itself influence in the Arab world? And would a change of government see an altered stance?

By Raphael Ahren May 19, 2013

September 2013

Shale: A key to Israel’s future

by Neil Goldstein, Guest Columnist Sep 09, 2013

October 2013

Canada and the Middle East Peace Process

Date Modified: 29Apr2013
Date Cached: 05Oct2013
Date Retrieved: 15Jan2014
Note that the text and link to the “Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East” has been removed.

Canada and the Middle East Peace Process: Cached 05Oct2013

November 2013

Stephen Harper planning first visit to Israel, will announce details at Jewish National Fund dinner

John Ivison | November 29, 2013 | Last Updated: Nov 29 6:40 PM ET

Stephen Harper to be feted for support of Israel at Negev dinner

Bird sanctuary in Israel to be named after Harper

The Canadian Press Posted: Nov 30, 2013 9:09 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 01, 2013 5:55 PM ET

December 2013

Stephen Harper breaks into song after Israel trip announcement

The PM belted out his own rendition of the Who’s “The Seeker” and a string of other classic songs.

The Canadian Press Published on Sun Dec 01 2013

Israel Wants Harper’s Advice On Natural Gas: Ambassador

CP | By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press Posted: 12/03/2013 5:03 pm EST | Updated: 12/04/2013 11:23 am EST

Israel’s best friend: Stephen Harper

The Prime Minister’s support seems less strategic than a reflection of his deeply held personal beliefs

by Nick Taylor-Vaisey on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 3:05pm

Will Egypt Purchase Gas from Israel via Cyprus?

Karen Ayat, December 05th, 2013 12:15am

Israel seeks to tap Canada’s expertise in natural gas: new ambassador

David Lazarus, Staff Reporter, Monday, December 23, 2013

Putin’s Mediterranean Move

The race is on to exploit off-shore energy around Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus — and Moscow is crashing the party.

BY Keith Johnson, DECEMBER 27, 2013

Israel: Gas, Oil and Trouble in the Levant


January 2014

24 Seven

Jan 2-8, 2014
Transcript: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/video/34741/transcript

Video: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/videos-ctg/34741

Overhaul of Israel’s Economy Offers Lessons for United States

By STEVEN DAVIDOFF, January 7, 2014, 4:54 pm

Canada names a partisan voice as new ambassador to Israel

By David Akin, Parliamentary Bureau Chief First posted: Wednesday, January 08, 2014 02:43 PM EST | Updated: Wednesday, January 08, 2014 04:20 PM EST

Baird defends appointment of new pro-Israeli ambassador ahead of Harper trip

by Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 5:13pm

Toronto lawyer Vivian Bercovici is Canada’s next ambassador to Israel as Harper government ‘affirms unfailing support’ for Jewish state

Stewart Bell | January 8, 2014 | Last Updated: Jan 8 5:51 PM ET

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Date Modified: 26Oct2012
Google Cached: 09Jan2014
Date Retrieved: 15Jan2014
Note that the text and link to the “Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East” has not been removed.

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Cached 09Jan2014

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Date Modified: 13Jan2014
Date Retrieved: 15Jan2014
Note that the text and link to the “Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East” has been removed.

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Retrieved 15Jan2014

PM Harper embarks on first trip to the Middle East

January 13,2014

Conservative party launches website to promote Stephen Harper’s first official Middle East trip

Jason Kenney will join Harper on trip that includes Israel, West Bank and Jordan

By Jason Fekete, Postmedia News January 14, 2014

Foreign Affairs website at odds with PM’s comments in support of Israel, group says

By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News January 15, 2014

Harper’s Israel Trip Comes Amid Changes Back Home

Althia Raj, Posted: 01/15/2014 11:08 am EST | Updated: 01/15/2014 1:55 pm EST

Stephen Harper’s deceased father a key influence in PM’s support for Israel

PM has called his father the ‘greatest influence’ on his life

Mark Kennedy, Published: January 15, 2014, 4:10 pm

Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East

Date Modified: 26Jun2013
Date Cached: 03Jul2013
Date Retrieved 15Jan2014
Note that the page “Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East last modified 26Oct2013” now redirects to a 404 “Page Not Found” error message.

Explanations of vote on United Nations resolutions concerning the Middle East: Retrieved 15Jan2014

Canada’s Explanation of Vote The Syrian Golan

Date Modified: 26Jun2013
Date Retrieved 15Jan2014
Note that the page “Canada’s Explanation of Vote The Syrian Golan last modified 26Oct2013” now redirects to a 404 “Page Not Found” error message.

Canada's Explanation of Vote The Syrian Golan: Retrieved 15Jan2014

Russia Finds Path Into Mediterranean Gas Through Syria

Christopher Coats, Energy Contributor | 1/16/2014 @ 11:47AM

Syrian energy deal puts Russia in gas-rich Med

Jan. 16, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Is One of Israel’s Strongest Backers — But Why?

Conservative Leader Visits Jewish State for First Time

By Ron Csillag Published January 16, 2014

Another Canadian jihadi reported dead in Syria

By Michael Woods, OTTAWA CITIZEN January 16, 2014

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Another CFR Conversation with Stephen Harper

A Conversation with Stephen Harper

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper discusses trade and the economy, current and future energy issues, and security concerns.

SPEAKER: Stephen Harper
PRESIDER: Robert E. Rubin


Published on May 17, 2013
Council on Foreign Relations

Category: Nonprofits & Activism
License” Standard YouTube License

Transcript: A Conversation with Stephen Harper
Speaker: Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, Canada
Author: Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations
May 16, 2013ROBERT RUBIN: All righty. Welcome. I’m Bob Rubin, co-chairman of the council. And we welcome you here today. We are absolutely delighted to have with us our distinguished guest, the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. I will not recite from his resume; as you know, it’s council practice to simply welcome our distinguished visitor. But it’s worth looking at that resume. It’s extremely impressive and this is an extremely accomplished prime minister.

Let me just make one personal observation. I had the good fortune to be at breakfast with the prime minister this morning. We discussed — or the group that was there discussed economic issues, we discussed the Mideast, about which he knows an enormous amount. And he is very, very thoughtful, as you will quickly find out.

So we again, Prime Minister, are just delighted to have you with us. Our program will be as follows: I’ll spend about, oh, the first half of the program posing a few questions to the prime minister and then we’ll open it up to all the participants. And then we will adjourn on time.

If you do ask a question, raise you hand. Somebody will come to you with a microphone. State who you are, your affiliation, and be very brief so we can get as many questions in as possible.

Let me start you off in this way, Prime Minister — as I mentioned at breakfast, I happen to have a very small investment account, so it kind of interests me — (laughter) — what do — what do you — and I think, you know, I do, because I think Canada has a very strong position. But as you look forward over the next five or 10 years, what do you think about when you think about risks, problems, concerns, issues that Canada needs to address?

PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER: Sure. Well, first of all, thank you for the kind introduction and thank you, everybody, for having me today. I’m delighted to be back here.

Bob, let me just say this, what I said this morning, you know, we can point to little things, there’s always things you want to see better in your economy. But the fundamentals of the Canadian economy are very strong. Our growth is slow, but it has been extremely steady — the best overall since the end of the recession in the G-7. We continue to create jobs. We have the lowest tax rates at the federal level we’ve had in 50 years. And our debt and deficit levels are lowest in the G-7 by a long way — by a long way.

RUBIN: Can you tell people what they are? I think —

HARPER: Well, at a federal level we’re now peaking at about 33 percent. So it’s a very, very manageable level.

I can point to little things, but all of the risks to Canada are really external. There were never in Canada any of the fundamental problems that led to the recession globally — the banking problems, the housing market problems, the sovereign debt problems. None of these things were present in Canada in any significant way.

And our recession came about entirely due to our external markets, our export markets and the effect of commodity prices. And these things remain our significant risks in the — in the near and medium term. What I have told Canadians repeatedly in the last few years is those risks are there, they’re going to continue to be with us. And our finance minister, Mr. Flaherty, will continue to dialogue with his partners around the world, our central bank will try and deal with those things.

What we have to do in Canada is, quite frankly, simply look past those things and ask ourselves what can we do to try and increase the growth potential of our economy over time going forward. And that’s why we are working on trade agreements, including completing the one we’re in — negotiating with the EU right now; why we’re keeping our taxes down, getting our budget balanced; why we’re making investments in long-term economic infrastructure and innovation; why we’re focusing — are trying to focus our training programs increasingly on economic and labor force needs; why we’re reorienting our very — I think very positive immigrations programs even more towards the labor force. We’re trying to do all the things we can to deal with the growth potential of the Canadian economy, and as I say, not that there are no risks in Canada, but the real significant risks are all external.

RUBIN: May I ask you a question, Prime Minister? My impression — I think this is right — is that with all the great strengths of Canada, productivity still has not increased at the rate that it has in some of the competitive countries — for example, ours.


RUBIN: And what would you think, if that’s right — and I think it’s right — what would you think the reasons would be? And what can be done to address that?

HARPER: Yeah, it is — it is true. I don’t think we entirely know why it is true, but you know, we’re doing a couple things that are important. In terms of particularly our manufacturing sector, we’re doing things to encourage innovation and investment in that sector. We’ve had accelerated capital cost allowance write-downs for new machinery and equipment. We’ve eliminated all tariffs, incoming and outgoing, on manufactured goods. And we’re putting more money into — government money into the commercial side, commercialization side, of research and development.

These are all things on which we’re starting to see some improvements in productivity, particularly in that — I think that’s the really key place where it has to be done.

The other thing we’re doing more going forward is looking at — you know, given that we’re — like all big Western economies, we have large government, what can we do to improve productivity and efficiency in government. As we’re trying to balance our budget, rather than cutting services left, right and center, we’re trying to look at ways we can reduce back office overheads, we can find more efficiency through application of new technology, how we can improve our performance management system for our public servants, to make sure that we’re getting the highest levels of results.

So those are some of the things we’re trying to do on productivity, and I think I see some sign it’s starting to have some effect. But it’s something we’ll have to watch going forward.

RUBIN: You obviously are an enormous producer of energy — gas, oil, coal and so forth. How do the environmental versus the production of energy forces weigh out in Canada? You’ve got the gateway pipeline —

HARPER: Right.

RUBIN: — which I think now has run into some difficulty in British Columbia, if I remember correctly.

HARPER: Well, then the Northern Gateway is still — it’s still part of a regulatory review process. I — as I tell people repeatedly, we in Canada — you know, we have a market-driven energy system; the government does not fund or invest in particular energy products — projects, outside of the hydroelectric sector.

We have vigorous regulatory systems to look at the economic, environmental and other impacts of environmental — of energy projects.

I’ll repeat what I said this morning: to repeat kind of what you said, Bob, that, you know, whether it’s coal, hydroelectricity, uranium, natural gas, oil, you name it, Canada is one of the largest producers in the world, and in almost every case with some of the largest reserves in the world. So whatever the energy mix of the future, as I tell people, Canada will be a major provider.

Look, environmental challenges are real. They have to be dealt with. You know, in terms of the one that — probably one I do want to talk about today, the Keystone pipeline in particular —

RUBIN: (Chuckles.) Thought you might.

HARPER: — and the oil sands, let me just talk a little bit about the environmental side of that, because I know that’s something we’re going to be focused on.

Oil sands — first of all, one needs to put this in a global perspective. Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of global emissions are in the oil sands. And so it — it’s, you know, almost nothing globally.

Now obviously it’s a significant part of the — of our own pressures in terms of our targets, the targets we share — we share a Copenhagen target with the United States. We have the same target and obviously constraining emissions there in the oil sands is going to be important.

We’ve had a 25 percent reduction over the past decade or so in emissions intensity out of the oil sands — 25 percent down.

The province of Alberta already has a technology fund, a regulatory approach in the oil sands that is going to lead to even more investments in technology that will continue to reduce our emissions. So look, truth of the matter is heavy oils out of the oil sands — yes, there still are emissions issues, but no — no more so than heavy crudes in other parts of the world, including Venezuela. And I don’t have to tell you there are probably reasons beyond just emissions why you would want to have your oil from Canada rather than from Venezuela.

You know, this project — well, if I can just take a second, four things. I talked about the environment. You know, on the economic side, 40,000 jobs in this country alone over the life of the project — I don’t think, given the growth and job record in North America, we can afford to turn down — turn up our nose at that. Energy security — this project will bring in enough oil to reduce American offshore dependence by 40 percent. This is an enormous benefit to the United States in terms of long-term energy security. And finally, of course, I think when you weigh all these factors, including the environmental factors, it explains why there is such overwhelming public support for this pipeline in the United States and why the — in the — particularly in the regions affected, there’s such broad bipartisan support.

So I think this absolutely needs to go ahead, but you can rest assured that making our emissions targets, including in the oil sands sector, is an important objective of the government of Canada.

RUBIN: This may be an unfair question. You don’t have to respond to it. But you’ve obviously been touched with the — or involved with the — our government quite a bit on this subject. What would your prognosis be for approval? You can not respond to that, and you can say that — (laughter) — you can say it’s complicated — (inaudible) —

HARPER: (Inaudible) — ask Ambassador Jacobson that question. (Laughter.) Look —

RUBIN: I don’t think he wants to take personal responsibility for this. (Laughter.)

HARPER: I think — you know, as I say, I think all the facts, including the recent — you know, recent State Department had a pretty thorough analysis of this, including the environmental impact. And the immediate — the only real immediate environmental issue here is that we want to increase the flow of oil from Canada via pipeline or via rail. If we don’t do the pipeline, more and more is going to be coming in via rail, which is far more environmentally challenging in terms of emissions and risks and all kinds of other things than building a proper pipeline. I think all the facts are overwhelmingly on the side of approval of this, but there is a process in the United States. As I’m told by those who know, the process is subject, as in everything in this country, to a massive potential litigation on either side, so the — I know the administration will do a thorough analysis before arriving at the right decision.

RUBIN: Let me go back to my first question. (Laughter.) That was what — that’s what I thought you were going to say. Let me go back to the first question again. It really — I’ve spent a fair bit of time on this. It’s hard to see internally — for the external difference — internally, where Canada could go wrong. Yet every economy has its risks. So if you were to identify the 1 percent risk that would worry you, what would it be?

HARPER: Well, as I say, they are — they are external. That’s what keeps me up at night. We’ve had — I think there’s been some comment on it here. We have had, as you know, growth of household debt in Canada. I think it’s — it — the assets behind it still speak to the fact that it’s well-supported. The financial institutions lending are the most solid in the world. But household debt has risen. We’ve taken some important steps in Canada to cool that trend through changing some mortgage rules, which is having a noticeable impact. You know, there’s always risks you can’t predict in this world. There are security risks. There are terrorist attacks. As you know, we just have been working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation working to make arrests on a particular incident we had not long after the Boston bombings. So there’s political risks. There’s always the risk of — there’s always the risk of people picking the wrong government, but my primary job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. (Laughter.)

RUBIN: Well, since you raise that, I wasn’t going to. But you do have — (laughter) — you have to have an election within the next 2 1/2 years sometime.

HARPER: Yeah, actually, we have a date set for October 25th.

RUBIN: Oh, you do? OK, I didn’t realize that. What will the issues in that election likely be?

HARPER: (Chuckles.) You know, I — look, I tell — in fairness, Bob, I tell people that my focus right now is the economy. And I am not — you know, I’m trying to — trying to stay out of campaign mode as long as I can. The — that’s one of the differences between our system and your system. The campaign mode is not perpetual in Canada, although when we had minority governments, it sometimes seemed that way. I believe that in the foreseeable future, to most people, the economy, the future of jobs and opportunities for themselves and for their children — those will continue to be the major issues. I think they’ll be the major issues for some time to come.

I think — look, I think, in the developed world, we’re going to have some ongoing challenges, particularly in Europe, and, for that matter, U.S. fiscal situation is likely to remain challenging for a while. But I think we’re at a crossroads as I think we all recognize there is a — there really is a shift, an unprecedented shift of power and wealth away from the Western world.

And in many ways, that’s a good thing, because we’re seeing hundreds of millions of people come out of poverty who never had opportunity before, and it’s something we want to see continue. But at the same time, if these trends continue, they will be a real threat to our standards of living. And what we keep telling Canadians, and I think all Western governments need to tell their people, is we can maintain and increase our standard of living and opportunity for our children and grandchildren, but we have to govern ourselves responsibly, we have to live within our means, and we have to not develop a mentality that somehow, the wealth we have today is a right, and it is simply going to be taken as a given. It’s going to be earned in a very competitive world. We’re prepared as government to make the investments and decisions necessary to grab that future. And I think we have to keep working with our people to make sure they understand those challenges, not just in their communities but obviously business leaders as well.

RUBIN: Look, I think that’s a very good statement of the challenge that faces all of us. Would you like to comment is another question you might want to be diplomatic about. (Chuckles.) As you look south — you obviously have a very strong economic relation with our country — what is — how does it strike you that we’re doing —

HARPER: Well —

RUBIN: — in the context of the framework you just set out?

HARPER: Look, we’ve made — you know, Canadians are very — you know, very proud of the fact that the country has performed so well over the past seven or eight years. And, you know, for the first time in a very long time, maybe ever, we now have numbers on standard of living that are at or exceed the numbers of the United States as a consequence of some of the trends of the last few years. And Canadians always — I tell people from around the world, Canadians always compare themselves to the Americans because you’re our only real neighbor, and it’s the only real comparison that matters to us. And we’re proud of that comparison.

But we also know that for our country to realize its potential, the United States has to do better. I’m encouraged by growth signs I see in the United States. As I mentioned here earlier today, I have enormous — first, I’m an enormous admirer of this country. And in spite of the fact I value the differences we have as Canadians, I’m an enormous admirer of this country, and I have enormous faith in the ability of the American people and particularly the American business community to always find opportunity, always seize it and always create a better future. That’s been the history of this country. I think it requires a hell of a lot of effort by everybody in Washington to make that not true. (Laughter.) And I just — I just don’t think they can sustain that kind of effort indefinitely, so — (laughter) —

RUBIN: Boy. Well, that’s a — (chuckles) — that, Prime Minister, is very well said. I hope that — (inaudible) — I hope that your bet on their inability to maintain that indefinitely has turned out to be right. (Laughter.)

Before we turn to everybody else, let me ask you, I had not realized, actually, until you were coming here just how deeply you’ve been involved with the Mideast and how constructively, from our point of view, at least. Why don’t you tell people a little bit about your involvement, how much you’ve been involved and what you’ve done and what your views are, including in — with respect to your views, if I may, on Israel, Syria and Egypt?


Well, look. I think like everybody we’re very concerned about what’s happening in the Mideast. I was criticized somewhat at home for maybe not as enthusiastically embracing the Arab Spring as some, not because I didn’t see positive there, but because I also saw enormous risks. And in some countries like Egypt, I think we’re starting to see the implications of maybe unrealistic expectations, both foreign and often on behalf of the populations themselves.

We were very supportive of our allies on the Libya mission. In fact, it was a Canadian commander, actually, in charge of that mission, with, obviously, our American, British and French and other allies, a mission I think, notwithstanding the problems we see today, was still worthwhile for all kinds of reasons.

Look, the one that’s on everybody’s mind is Syria. And I will just say this: You know, all joking aside about Washington, I — you know, we’ve — I have a really good relationship with the president. And, you know, obviously, think within the constraints of the American system, he’s doing what he can do on all kinds of issues. On Syria, I see a lot of criticism about inaction. I look at Syria over the past couple years, and I would urge the president and everybody else extraordinary caution in jumping into this situation. This is a terrible regime. Canada has some of the toughest sanctions in the world against the Assad regime. We believe, as everybody believes, that he should step down and there should be a transition.

But we should not fool ourselves about what is happening in Syria. The overwhelming complexion of the events in Syria is that of a sectarian conflict on both sides, with brutality and extremism on both sides. And to just start talking about, you know, as some do, arming unnamed people whose objectives — whose identities we don’t know and whose objectives we do not understand I think is — I think is extremely risky. So I think we are best to try and continue to work — we’re making — doing humanitarian aid, as I know the United States is. Best that we keep doing that nonlethal aid, that we assist the neighboring countries, particularly Jordan, who are threatened by this and that we continue to try and do what we can diplomatically, notwithstanding the obstruction of some at the United Nations, that we continue to do what we can diplomatically to try and see if we can’t bring the sides together and lead to a more peaceful transition. I think those are still the best options. Even if they don’t appear attainable, none of the other options, to me, are very pleasant.

I think it is also important — and I’ll use this opportunity to say it again, as I think many of you know, our government has been very well known for its strong support of the state of Israel. I think there is nothing more short sighted in Western capitals, in our time, than the softening support we have seen for Israel around the globe. This is the one strong, stable, democratic, Western ally that we have in this part of the world, and the worst possible thing we could do in the long term for any of our governments is to be anything less than fully supportive of Israel. As long as I’m prime minister, this government will remain very supportive, you know, and — of that country in what is a very challenging neighborhood.

RUBIN: As soon as you said — we’ll turn to everybody else, but now you lead me to a follow-up question, if I may. One would think that, in some respects, they have a very difficult situation right now. If you were Israel, how would you navigate in this — in this water?

HARPER: (Chuckles.)

RUBIN: And you may also — on that one our may find some equal answer, like saying it’s complex.

HARPER: Yeah, you know, it’s so hard. I speak frequently with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and it’s so hard for me to put myself in that kind of environment. As president — or Prime Minister Netanyahu always says to me, he says, I have the worst neighborhood in the world and you have the best neighborhood in the world, because you know where I am and you know all the turmoil around me. And he says, you have three oceans — you have oceans on three sides and the United States on the other. There is no possible better arrangement any country could ask for — (laughter) — in the entire world, and I think he’s absolutely right on that.

You know, obviously first and foremost — first and foremost, Israel has to be preoccupied with its own security, given all the risks — the immediate risks of — in the immediate neighborhood and the farther off but very real risks of places like Iran and its nuclear weapons ambitions, which I consider to be the biggest single threat to the globe today.

At the same time, obviously we encourage Israel to try and work with its neighbors to establish workable relationships, as it has with a couple. And we encourage Israelis and Palestinians to return to the peace table and try and make some progress there. But we should — I really think we should back away from a mythology that there is some kind of magic bullet in Palestinian-Israeli talks that would affect the wider region. The wider region is in turmoil for reasons that go way beyond the Palestinian question or, for that matter, the existence of Israel.

RUBIN: Prime Minister, thank you.

Now we will take questions from anybody who would like to begin the process of asking questions.

Yes, ma’am. Just state who you are and what your affiliation is.

QUESTIONER: Hello. Peggy Hicks with Human Rights Watch. Prime Minister, your government has looked at the issue of violence and murders against indigenous women, and it has been supportive of a parliamentary — special parliamentary committee that’s been set up but so far hasn’t been willing to take up the recommendation of a national commission of inquiry to address that very desperate problem, with hundreds of women missing or dead. This featured prominently in Canada’s UPR, Universal Periodic Review, in Geneva, and now some provinces and territories have come out in support of National Commission of Inquiry. Is it time for the government to support it as well?

HARPER: Yeah, I remain very skeptical. You know, I, first of all, tend to remain skeptical of commissions of inquiry generally. Not to say they never work or never produce good recommendations, but my experience has been, they almost always run way over time, way over budget and often, the recommendations prove to be of limited utility.

This issue has been studied; the government itself — the federal government itself — it’s been studied in several different venues — the federal government itself provided funding or multi-years of study within various branches of our government. We do really think it is time to pass to action.

We have been funding increasing elements — a number of elements in the justice system to increase the efficacy of both prevention programs as well as investigate techniques on behalf of the police. You know, we’re talking about a large number of cases, many of which bear no resemblance to each other whatsoever. And a lot of it is just a matter of getting — getting better processes to both prevent and investigate these kinds of disturbances.

But I think the other thing, more broadly, that is required — and something we have been battling in parliament for some years — is to really enhance the status of women in aboriginal communities. For instance, something we have been trying to pass for some years, when we were a minority, without success, and now advancing — we’re a majority is matrimonial property rights on reserve — women on Canadian reserves, for various reasons — historical reasons — don’t enjoy the same kinds of property and other rights that women off reserves enjoy.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission was, for all intents and purposes — its authorities were not applied on reserves until a couple of years ago when this government managed to amend legislation. So I think there are practical things besides, obviously, enhancing the efficacy of police work. There are things we have to do to increase and raise the status of women in aboriginal communities. And this has been a bit of a pitched battle, because there are forces within aboriginal communities and outside who have been resisting those kinds of changes.

RUBIN: Yes, sir.

QUESTIONER: Ralph Bertrands (ph), New York University. Prime Minister, in recent times, ethnic problems around the world have risen — ethnic separatism has risen. But in Canada, it seems to have declined. Why is that so, and what are the mechanisms the Canadian government has used in this process, and are there any lessons that the rest of the world can learn from this?

RUBIN: That’s a good question.

HARPER: You know, broadly — I won’t comment at great length on the issue of Quebec separatism. As you know, we have a separatist government in Quebec right now, primarily because it was the principal opposition, and Quebecers wanted to change the government, but in fact, support for their actual option of separation is at historic lows.

Look, I think one of the things we’re very proud of in Canada is the general approach we’ve had to diversity. It obviously has origins in the country, because almost from the outset, we’ve had two national languages. We’ve had a policy of multiculturalism for some years. The approach we have used in Canada that I think has been very effective — it’s not perfect — is that we have always taken the view that when people are prepared — people who have lived millennia in other nations pull up their roots and come to Canada, that this is a very dramatic decision they are taking.

And in wanting to do that, we should be very clear that in almost every case, they really want to become Canadians. And so as much as we want and expect them to integrate, we also view that it is our role as the country they’re coming to to make that integration process easier and to accept that when immigrants and when people of different cultures come to Canada, they will not only change to suit the country, but the country will, in some — in some measure, also evolve to reflect them.

And so I think, in understanding that this is a two-way street and that we accept diversity as a positive, this is a deeply-rooted, across the political spectrum in Canada. I think it’s been something that’s served us very well. And I say, notwithstanding problems that arise from time to time, I think it’s fair to say that there’s probably no country in the world with greater cultural diversity, but also greater cultural harmony than Canada, simultaneously.

RUBIN: In that context, Prime Minister, do you have an illegal immigrant problem in Canada of any dimension?

HARPER: We have — we certainly have illegal immigrants in Canada, but nothing like the problem in the United States. Our problems in Canada have tended to be more problems of people coming and making bogus claims in what is a very generous refugee system, as opposed to mass migration from across the border. So we certainly have illegal immigration, but it is — it would be a fragment of the phenomenon in the United States.

QUESTIONER: Mr. Prime Minister, Gordon Giffin, a lawyer from Atlanta, Georgia, proud graduate of Richview Collegiate Institute.

HARPER: My high school, same high school. (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: And a former ambassador to Canada. Welcome, sir.

I hope I can formulate this question where it is coherent. 1988, Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement; 1994, NAFTA. Almost 20 years later, some significant, I’ll call them incremental initiatives, largely led by the two gentlemen sitting in front of me here, to improve how we work at the border together. But no big moves to try and make a difference in North America to make us more efficient economically. I’m not talking about in any way political integration or even currency integration, nothing like that.

But I even look at the Keystone debate right as evidence of the issue. The only reason we’re having this debate is because of an anachronistic provision in our law that relates to a permit to take infrastructure across the 49th parallel. Why we need that in North America, I’m not sure, when all of the jurisdictions along the route get to approve it or not under their own state laws.

So my — really, my question is, is there a chance of a much bigger initiative between our two countries at some point, to break down the anachronistic rules that impede economic efficiencies in North America, some of which have been done in Europe? I’m not talking about creating an EU with a large governance or anything, but the economic efficiencies.

Last thing I’ll say, when I was in Canada working on things like this, I found the impediment to that to be an insecurity in Canada about dealing with the United States, that we were somehow going to assimilate Canada. I don’t see that anymore. I think Canada’s much more self-confident in dealing with the United States and the world. So if that’s the case, is there a chance at doing a bigger deal going forward?

HARPER: Well, Gordon, let me just begin by just repeating — I know you’re familiar with it — some of the things we are doing, because I think we do have some significant initiative going forward.

We have the — what we call the Beyond the Border Initiative where we are attempting through a series of individual initiatives and investments and closer cooperation between border authorities, to make things more seamless at the border and to push a lot of — you know, inspections out around the perimeter of North America to try and arrange our affairs so that, as we say things, are — things are — you know, may enter twice, but are inspected only once. And we’re doing some of those things.

We also have a parallel initiative called the Regulatory Cooperation Council, where we’ve identified 29 areas to create greater consistency and harmonization of regulations and more importantly, in my judgment, especially for our side, is to find ways in those areas where we will prevent regulatory — unnecessary regulatory difference and duplication going forward, where we try and identify some of those things in advance, try and change some of the processes.

And I should mention one very specific project of international cooperation, which is the president just issued a permit for the Detroit River International Crossing, which this is financed largely by Canada, but this will be — this is a huge piece of infrastructure in what is — and we often forget the size of this relationship — what is the largest single trade corridor in the entire world, the Detroit-Windsor trade corridor.

So we have some important initiatives going forward. Could they lead to something systemically more integrated? Look, I think on our side, they could. I think on our side, they could. I agree with your assessment. I think the view — we had a watershed election in 1988 over the free trade agreement with the United States, and the opponents argued that whether economic integration with the United States — greater economic integration and trade would lead to wealth or not, it would cause Canada to lose its political independence and identity.

What we’ve seen is it has led to vast increases in cross-border trade without any such loss of political independence or identity. In fact, this past year, as you know, we’ve been celebrating the War of — the War of 1812, which —

RUBIN: I know. (Chuckles.)

HARPER: — permanently established this — (laughter) — this independence and separate identity. So I think that — there will always be opponents in Canada, but I think that is a real minority view now.

I think the resistance to this kind of thing’s far more in the United States than in Canada, for reasons that — and maybe, Bob and others, for reasons you would better fathom than me.

Some of it’s post-9/11 security concerns, but I’ve never seen — the United States in the past decade is — the sensitivity here about sovereignty and the negative assessments I often read of NAFTA — completely counterfactual assessments of NAFTA — I think, are the real barriers. I think the real barrier to making some of these arrangements broader and more systemic in terms of the integration are actually on this side of the border.

RUBIN: (Chuckles.)

HARPER: So I leave that to you guys to work out.

RUBIN: To the best my knowledge, Prime Minister, there’s never been a serious study of NAFTA that has shown it not to have been positive, but it lives in the politics of the United States in a very powerful way, because I think it symbolizes a lot of other issues that people are concerned about. That would be my impression, anyway.

HARPER: That’s — it — I don’t think there’s any evidence that it’s been anything but positive. And it’s one of these things — you get this sometime in politics — you get odd things where nobody would repeal it, yet nobody will admit it works.

RUBIN: (Chuckles.)

HARPER: And I don’t know why that is. In Canada I say the — there were many people opposed. It was a very close election, 50-50, Canadians’ original support, on the Canada-U.S. trade arrangement. Any political party that advocates backing away from this trade relationship or from NAFTA would never a general election in Canada, would never be a serious contender.

So that was a watershed, and people understand that this trade is necessary, essential and beneficial.

RUBIN: We’ll go back again. Right there. Yeah.

QUESTIONER: Stephen Blank, Fulbright professor, University of Ottawa. Back to risk. Three factoids: Canada’s increasingly a commodity-driven economy now. We see a decline of Canadian manufacturing competitiveness. And the trick — Canadian dollar trades about 10 to 15 cents higher than we always thought was appropriate. Do these pieces connect with each other? And is this a risk?

HARPER: I wouldn’t want to say they necessarily connect with each other.

We talked earlier today about commodity prices. I’m not sure I agree that we’re more commodity-dependent than ever. In fact, I think what distinguishes us from some countries like Australia is we’re actually less commodity-dependent.

But look, commodities are important. My own view is that commodity prices are likely over any significant period of time to track the general level of global economic activity. Obviously if there’s — if we were to see a recession or vast slowdown in the emerging economy, that would have a real impact on Canada through commodity prices, but it would have a real impact on everybody, whether you were commodity-dependent or not.

So I — you know, as I said earlier, I think — I think the fact that Canada actually is an advanced economy with a commodity side is actually one of our strengths. The fact that we have both traditional and nontraditional industries distinguishes us from some other developed countries where the kinds of problems you see in manufacturing and elsewhere are much more fatal in the long term.

We do need — as I said earlier, we do need to do more to make our secondary manufacturing sectors more competitive, more effective. We are working with the manufacturing sector through a series of sectoral initiatives as well as general tax policies to make that happen. I think those sectors are very supportive of what we’re doing in Canada to make that happen.

And on the research side, as you know, we have been making significant changes to try and make sure the vast — as we — you know, we are a very big funder of public R&D in Canada — to make that connect better with private R&D and to have better results on commercialization.

So look, those things are all — we can point at all kinds of things in Canada where things are not ideal or where there are weaknesses. And they’re all true. We have strengths and we have weaknesses. I don’t think any of these things individually would say that Canada, in isolation, is suddenly going to have a major economic problem. They’re all weaknesses we would have that — on which we would be susceptible, if there were a continued general global economic lowing. So I think our risks primarily (really ?) are external.

RUBIN: Over here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Daniel Arbess, Parella Weinberg Partners. I wanted to take the opportunity to ask about universal health care. You know, I was born and grew up in Montreal and had the experience of living with universal health care as an adolescent, and my family did. It provided full access to health care, but it always — it wasn’t always to the highest-quality health care and to the most accessible when you needed it. As you know, the United States is moving in this direction. And getting universal health care right is probably the most important economic imperative. I’m sure Bob Rubin would probably agree with that assessment. Being able to create a universal health care system in this country where costs will be managed but so will the quality and accessibility of service balanced against that is critically important as the demographic advances here. So I wondered whether you could illuminate lessons in the Canadian experience with universal health care that would be applicable to our experience here?

HARPER: You know, in all fairness, probably not. (Laughter.) And the reason — the reason I say that is my experience with the health care system is similar to yours, and that — as you know, in Canada, the federal government doesn’t run the health care system. We provide some significant funding through transfer payments to the provinces, but we actually have very little to do with actually running a health care system. And I don’t proclaim any particular expertise in running a health care system.

I would agree with your assessment that we have a system of — a system of universal access. I would actually say that I think, in my own experience, the quality of care is actually quite high. Timeliness is sometimes an issue and becoming more of an issue as we face some of the demographic pressures on that system. And sometimes a system that’s publicly dominated innovation is also — may also be a bit more of a challenge in some areas.

But look, as you know, the fact of the matter is, Canadians across the political spectrum, including our party, we are very supportive of the fundamental premise of the Canadian health care system, which is that when somebody is sick and needs medical care, their ability to pay should not be a factor in them being able to access medical care. And that is a principle that Canadians believe in and, I know, one that remains a matter of some debate in the United States.

I would also made the following observations — when I say that I can’t give you an easy answer — I’d make this observation. In spite of the differences between Canadian and American health care and the health care systems in many other Western countries, it seems to me that health care systems around the world, regardless of how they’re structured, seem to have a lot of the same problems, the more I actually look at them.

And a lot of the reason for the problem is actually a positive thing. It is that with the — with the great strides we’ve made in both the professions, professional training, and especially technology and drugs, that there is just more and more and more we can do to improve people’s lives and to keep them living longer. But these things all come with price tags and, in some cases, with enormous price tags.

And the fact of the matter is it is very difficult for systems to assess, however they assess it, where you’re going to put these resources. Resources are never unlimited. And the demands and the ability to treat in many cases are virtually unlimited. And so decisions have to be made, and however those decisions are made, whether they’re through queuing or through pricing or whatever they are, are very difficult decisions. And I just think those are challenges.

And they’re going to be compounded, as we all know, because of the demographics in Western countries, where the population’s aging, people will need more health care, and more health care professionals themselves are aging, there will be less and less practitioners. So those are going to be some of the common challenges.

In our country, previous federal governments — well, not running a health care system — made a point — our ambassador was a former premier — they made a point of periodically picking fights with the provinces over health care to demonstrate that somehow we were going to be great defenders of the system. I think that was an entirely negative dynamic. The approach we now take is we try to work with the provinces to assist them in tackling what are very real challenges going forward.

RUBIN: Prime Minister, if a province decided they didn’t want to have a single-payer system, would they be in a position where they could move away from that?

HARPER: They — technically yes, but they would not be receiving significant transfer payments from the federal government if they did that. And in fairness, there is no political appetite that I’m aware of in any province in any segment of — significant segment of political opinion to do that.

RUBIN: The gentleman over there. Yeah, that’s it.

QUESTIONER: My name is Andrew Gumlock (sp) from — (inaudible). You’ve had some recent bruising battles on economic nationalism. In the fertilizer sector you chose not to allow foreign investors in. In two recent energy deals, you debated it a lot but you ultimately allowed them in, ring-fenced some assets.

How do you see this playing out in the short term with the election? But more broadly, and perhaps more importantly, how do you see Canada attracting in the surplus countries into very capital-intensive industries? Frankly, they need capital well in excess of the savings of Canada.

HARPER: Yes, that’s true. We need — we need foreign investment and, at the same time, you should be under illusion that we want foreign investment in Canada. And in fact, although we screen all major foreign investments, only twice in our history have we actually rejected foreign investments.

I just want to talk briefly about the two issues you raised. The one where we did not allow the investment, this was a case of the potash industry, where currently it’s a Canadian/American company, and Canada is a dominate producer. And through a Canadian/American organization, it’s headquartered — or, you know, partly headquartered in Canada.

Canada has significant market power in that industry. In one single transaction, what was going to occur was that that significant market power as going to shift out of the country and towards a foreign, private investor. Our judgement was that, because we do screen foreign investments, that that simply was not in the long-term interests of the Canadian economy. I’d say that was fairly unique circumstances.

The second case you raise was our decision to allow certain state-owned investments — one by a Chinese state-owned corporation, another by a Malaysian state-owned corporation — into the energy sector. And we allowed those after considerable deliberation.

And while we allowed those, we were very clear going forward that in areas of the economy — like, for instance, the oil sands — where we see now a significant risk that if we did not restrict foreign ownership that we would have in — essentially have that sector be nationalized by some other state-owned enterprise.

Our view is that is not the direction we want for the Canadian economy. We want to have foreign investment. This government — in fact, it’s conservative governments in our country, like mine, who have opened up the economy for foreign investment and have privatized crown corporations. We did not privatize state corporations in order to see other governments nationalize our industry.

So while some foreign state-owned investment is desirable, we would not want it at a level at any critical part of the economy where essentially we began to put that sector of the economy under a foreign state management system, rather than having it essentially run by commercial forces. So as they say, it’s a matter of level and degree. And we’ll deal with that going forward.

The risk Canada actually has, given the attractiveness — we’re now rated — I forget — was it Forbes who said now Canada’s in the best place in the world to make an investment. We get that kind of rating elsewhere. Given the relative smallness of the Canadian economy and the relative size of some potential investors, I do think that if we don’t — if we don’t have this concern in mind, we could see our economy morph in a way we don’t intend.

And as I say, it’s not about foreign or domestic. It’s about the nature of state-owned enterprises versus genuinely commercial operations. And that’s the thing we’re keeping an eye on.

RUBIN: Yes, sir.

QUESTIONER: Jeff Laurenti with The Century Foundation.

Mr. Prime Minister, the gradual melting back of the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean, attributed usually to global warming, raises two issues, as you now have long, frozen territorial claims suddenly heating up as well. And I wonder if you might elucidate for us, first, on the mega-issue of global warming, on which Canada has taken a somewhat more nuanced stand — walking back from Kyoto — whether — for Canadians, perhaps the prospect of having a climate more like New Jersey’s is so appealing that, you know, it doesn’t seem to be urgent. So where do you see the global climate change issue going on the mega level?

And then, on the Arctic territorial claims question, what are the major claims and dispute that affect Canada, and do you see that as resolved by the six countries adjacent to the ocean relative to their bargaining power with each other, or under broader principles of international law like the Law of the Sea? What’s the interplay between those?

HARPER: First of all, on the issue of climate change — our government’s position from the outset is that we need a mandatory international protocol that includes all significant emitters, and that if we do not get that, we will not be able to control global emissions. Part of the reason our government was not supportive of the Kyoto protocol is it controlled one-third of global emissions and a shrinking proportion of global emissions. Even if the Kyoto protocol had — every country in it had realized their targets, which, of course, most weren’t — they would have had no impact whatsoever on the growth of global emissions.

So we need — we need some of the big emitters outside the developed world — not just the United States — China and others — to be part of a — of a global system. And I do believe a couple of things going forward if we’re going to make that global system effective. It’s not just a matter of setting targets. We actually have to have ways of reaching them. You know, many countries have tried simply setting a target as a way of demonstrating that they’re going to achieve something. We need a couple of things.

I think, first and foremost, we do need technological change. I am convinced that over time, we are not going to effectively tackle emissions unless we develop the technology — lower emission technology in energy and other sectors. And that is the thing that will allow us to square economic growth with emissions reduction and environmental protection. And I’m convinced that if we cannot square those two things, we’re not going to make progress globally.

And I don’t just say that about developed countries like ours, where people are still saying they need jobs as a consequence of the recession, but certainly, in the developing world, we’re not going to simply be able to put caps on economic growth as a way of achieving environmental targets. So that’s the framework we’re approaching it from, but look, there’s a lot of — there’s a lot of work to be done. There is still not — the reality is, there is still not an acceptance in many countries of the need for mandatory targets at all.

On the — on the issue of territorial claims, you know, with one — with one small exception, from our standpoint — with one small exception, there really aren’t significant land and territorial claims. There are some disputes, including with your country, on some offshore claims. We have some with the United States on the Beaufort Sea, we obviously have an ongoing dispute about the international status of the Northwest Passage; we have some dispute in the Lincoln Sea area with Denmark.

I think these are things that can be resolved bilaterally. We are obviously, at the same time, big supporters of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the process that’s going on there to deal with the — you know, the much farther offshore. And we will continue to support those international efforts. But I actually think the immediate territorial disputes, if they are to be resolved at all, can be resolved or managed bilaterally.

RUBIN: We have time for half a question more — (laughter) — and I’m going to — I’m going to take the liberty, if I may, of asking the question, because it relates to the question just answered. How do — can you see any way that the international community is actually going to effectively reach some kind of way of dealing with global climate change before it becomes a crisis that forces action? And in that context, is the G-20 an effective vehicle for dealing with transnational issues?

HARPER: Boy, that’s a big question.

RUBIN: Well, I — it’s a half a question, if you have a half an answer.

HARPER: Yeah. Well, look, I think the answer to the first question is yes. I think it’s going to be difficult. I think that — I think that most countries understand not just the question of climate change is serious, but understand that the price of having no effective environmental framework is already causing significant impacts and will cause greater impacts in the future.

I think even with marginal progresses in standard of living in places like China and India, there will be overwhelming public demand for environmental improvement in those countries. You know, it’s incomprehensible to me, when I look at the growth of China and India and I see the kind of environmental challenges that exist today, how those challenges could be tolerable if they became five or 10 times as bad. So I do think everybody will — will come to the realization, whether it’s on climate change or these broader economic problems of pollution and other such matters, that these things do have to be tackled.

I — I really do think that we’ll — we’ll get farther on these things if we take serious approaches. And serious approaches, Bob, means that we admit that not just they are big challenges, but they are also difficult ones. It is not a matter of just getting on a street corner and yelling and that will somehow lead to a solution. These are real challenges that — where environmental needs intersect and often appear to be at cross-purposes with economic and social development. And unless we realize that, take those things seriously, we’re going to keep talking around the real issues. So I think if we admit they’re real problems with real, difficult solutions and real, difficult choices that have to be made, that everybody has to contribute to, then I think we’ll make progress.

And I do think as time wears on and as we’ve had, you know, failures as we have through Kyoto and failures at some of these international conferences, I do think it will increasingly dawn on actors that we’ll just keep failing unless we actually get together and realize this is a — these are issues that — that don’t have simple, quick answers.

That was the first. What was the —

RUBIN: Oh, I’m just curious whether you think the G-20 is an effective mechanism for —

HARPER: Well, look, I don’t know. I — you know, I don’t — I wish I could tell you yes to that one. The G-20 was extraordinarily effective when President Bush first convened it in late 2008. It was extraordinarily effective at that meeting, at the subsequent ones in London and Pittsburgh, at arriving at a consensus on a series of issues that had to be addressed. And you know, we did a global stimulus. We worked for — we all worked together on — we shared, in fact, the panel on working together in more effective financial regulation. There’s been another — a number of other agreements.

What my observation would be, that going forward — when we all faced exactly the same problem, which was a collapse in economic activity, it — it — it sure led much more quickly to a consensus on what to do. Now that countries find themselves — you know, we talk about two three — two-speed, three-speed developed world, emerging economies on a different trajectory. As the situations and needs of these different countries diverge, getting consensus on these issues is proving to be more and more difficult. I don’t know whether it will be — whether it will be as effective going forward as it needs to be.

I do know this, that I think it’s the only mechanism at our disposal. I don’t think you’d want more than 20 players in the room. Unfortunately, the G-20 tends to mean, in practice, G-20 — something like G-35. But with 20 to 30 to 35 people in the room, I think you’re squeezing the — the bounds of effectiveness anyway, and — and there is nothing else that I see as a plausible substitute, other than the major sovereign players getting together and trying to — to work through some global needs.

What — what we lack — I would say often the real crucial problem is this. It’s — it’s not that — it’s not that — just that we have divergent paths and — and different situations. It’s that there is still often in these discussions a failure of many people around the table to fully grasp the holistic nature of the approach we need to take.

And look, we — Canada, like everyone else, we defend our national interests and our national perspective. But given that we are part of a global economy, effective — for lack of a better words, effective global governance through the G-20 — and that’s the closest thing we got — is only going to work if a lot of people around the table bring a holistic and global perspective to that economy and to — to what needs to be done globally. And that is still an area where we’re deficient, where I don’t think there’s still enough of a realization that the best we’re going to do — even in some of the largest economies, the best we have is coping mechanisms, unless we actually work together on how we address some of these challenges.

RUBIN: Prime Minister, we thank you for being with us and — (applause) — you were terrific.

(C) 2013 Federal News Service

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The Chinese are coming! And other challenges to Canadian self-determination….maybe

Some analysts say a little bit of economic imperialism isn’t all that bad.

By Massoud Hayoun
Posted: Oct 19th, 2012

They’re coming – The Chinese. The Americans. And of course, experts in empire, the British.

They want to slice a nation into concessions. They want to guzzle its fresh water and pump its oil into their cars, tractors and factories – extract more and more of its fuels for their burgeoning economies. Even move into its embassies abroad.

Surprisingly, the nation victim to this frenzied rush for resources isn’t in the so-called ‘developing’ or post-colonial world. It’s Canada.

Canadian politicians, environmentalists and media are perennially abuzz with news of a pending imperialist takeover. But the kind of imperialism they describe isn’t imperialism in the traditional sense, where the oppressor pushes an economic agenda – a wholesale heist of natural resources – after a political takeover.

The kind of economic imperialism Canadians seem to fear starts off with business and spills over into politics.

Red scare?

Some politicians and environmentalists say China – once bent into submission by Western nations, which divided Shanghai into colonial ‘concessions’ and forbade ethnic Chinese (except nannies and cooks) from entering certain parts of Central, Hong Kong – is now guilty of going after Canadian land, oil and politics.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May maintains Chinese enterprises bidding for Canadian natural energies represent a threat to national sovereignty.

“Chinese state-owned enterprises are an extension of the Communist Party of China and threaten to erode sovereignty in different ways than other foreign investors,” May told The Vancouver Observer in an article on Chinese energy company CNOOC’s bid for Canadian gas and oil giant Nexen last month.

While the CNOOC bid awaits approval until November on Parliamentary Hill, it seems Chinese Communism has yet to infiltrate Canadian politics.

Still, in an unpublished segment of May’s interview, she argued business deals with the People’s Republic have already harmed Canadian self-determination.

“We are experiencing a loss of decades of environmental laws in order to satisfy the Chinese government and state-run oil companies,” she said.

“Harper defied expert advice to ensure all foreign takeovers were reviewed against an objective definition of ‘national security.’ In the 2009 amendments to the Investment Canada Act, Harper and the PC refused to define “national security” saying the term was too fluid to be capable of definition.”

What May described then was a kind of economic imperialism.

“We will lose sovereignty and the ability to regulate to protect the environment if Harper follows through with a free trade deal with China,” she said.

The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA), slated to come into effect at the end of the month, will allow Chinese enterprises to sue the Canadian government for any measure seen as discriminatory to its operations, analysts say.

“If we have state-owned enterprises operating in Canada and if – on top of that — they get the same rights to sue Canada as the US and Mexico do under the Investor-State provisions of Chapter 11 of NAFTA, then we will have given away the store, lock stock and barrel,” May said.

Old friends

China is only the new kid on the block when it comes to Canada’s sovereignty woes.

May noted in the same interview that “Under NAFTA, [Canada] is hard-wired to be the number one supplier of foreign oil to the US,” and the United States has, in its ongoing presidential debates [see Republican candidate Mitt Romney on what he considers a kind of domestic supply] and legislative documents repeatedly referred to Canadian energy as part of its domestic ‘North American’ reserves.

Questions of sovereignty have colored the debate on various multi-billion-dollar bids to funnel more Canadian natural resources into the US – Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion and the Keystone XL pipeline.

And of late, Britain has entered the mix of allegedly nefarious super powers. Canadian commentators criticized a joint Ottawa-London initiative to collocate several Canadian and British embassies, saying the move, while economically sound in its gesture to cut back on public funds in the aftermath of a crippling global recession, would jeopardize “the ability of Canadian diplomats to act fully independently in certain foreign countries,” as The National Post writes.

The ebb and flow of the Canadian sovereignty woe

A sense of sovereignty under siege appears to be a kind of defining feature of Canadian national identity.

“Fears about Canadian sovereignty are as old as our country,” UBC political science professor Kathryn Harrison told The Vancouver Observer.

“After all, concern about a potential US invasion was one of the motivations for Confederation. I don’t think it’s surprising that there’s persistent anxiety either, though usually at a pretty low well. We are next door to a country with ten times more people and the largest economy in the world.”

Canadians worry about national sovereignty at some times more than others.

“There are some periods when economic or policy developments bring those concerns to the fore than others.  For instance the debate about Canada-US free trade in 1988. The proposed expansion of shipments of natural resources – coal, oil, natural gas — towards Asian markets is new, at least in scale,” she said.

High-profile pipeline expansion deals, slated to bring more Canadian fuels to the US have in turn fueled polemics on Canadian self-determination, Harrison argues.

“Export of large quantities of oil and gas is not new, but as long as we could rely on existing pipelines to do so, it was under the public’s radar. With the debate in the US over the Keystone XL pipeline and in Canada over the Enbridge Northern Gateway and, potentially, the Kinder Morgan pipeline [expansion] as well, people are more aware of those exports,” she added.

The problematic politics of polemics

Some analysts at both ends of the political spectrum say the debate on Canadian national sovereignty – directed most often against international business deals and pitting politics against profit – works against the national interest.

“They are classic know-nothing arguments. They are in some cases suicidal — maybe suicidal is too strong a word, but they certainly don’t support Canada’s national interest,” said renowned libertarian and McGill University economics and public policy professor Tom Velk.

Velk believes that what has been worded as an argument against economic imperialism is in fact a blow to globalization and economic development.

“Politically imposed isolation have been costly and unwise. I suppose the extreme examples are places like North Korea or Cuba,” Velk said.

“The word imperial has an automatic negative notion or weight attached to it. Great nations large and small are far more likely to benefit from working with one another,” Velk added.

“Where would we be without Roman empire and its language?” he asked.

Velk believes that the arguments for Canadian sovereignty are economically unsound, because various gestures to develop stronger economic ties with the Chinese and non-traditional partners will lessen Canada’s dependence on US business – and political directives.

“We don’t have the ability to pursue national goals against those of the United States… [but] Canada does have some levers,” Velk said.

“What Canada has been doing with the rest of the world is trying to expand a range of trading partners in Asia and Europe that may give Canada some limited degree of flexibility vis-a-vis the US markets,” he added.

Not only does Chinese business offer Canada a way out of a politically compromising tie to its neighbors down South, but there is a moral imperative behind selling natural resources to countries like China, Velk says.

“Canada has an enormous surplus of fresh water… China is in great need of water. They are trying to get water from the Tibetan highlands, at great political costs to the places that supply it. So it would be in the world’s interest, as well as in the Canadian interest to trade bulk water across the ocean,” he said, explaining that the “know-nothing” sovereignty crowd is “immoral.”

Double standards

On the other end of the political spectrum but equally opposed to sovereignty scares is Yves Engler, a liberal historian and political commentator and recent author of The Ugly Canadian, a book on the Harper administration’s foreign policy.

“It’s in the interest of Canadian companies to have local communities and the national government have greater control over natural resources,” Engler said, “Most Canadians want higher royalty rates and national control over resources. The more that becomes internationalized, the less likely that is.”

“But it’s a bit hypocritical of Canadian politicians to criticize foreign enterprises – and not to be critical of Canadian purchasing of international resources.”

Nexen, the Calgary-based Canadian energy giant at the heart of the China debate, owns oil operations in places like Colombia, Europe’s North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

What’s to lose?

Much of the discussion on sovereignty, as Engler noted, is about Ottawa and Canadians being able to dictate the destiny of their natural resources. But inherent in claims from politicians and media that the ostensibly communist Chinese government’s companies threaten Canadian sovereignty is the idea that they are threatening a Canadian way of life

The implicit fear is a loss of individual rights that set Canada apart from both China and the United States – healthcare, marriage for all and relatively unthreatened women’s reproductive freedoms.

Engler believes this idea bespeaks a fundamental misunderstanding of those rights.

“Those gains are won by unions, farmers’ groups, feminist groups, LGBTQ organizations – I certainly wouldn’t frame it in the kind of Canada sovereignty angle,” he said.

Civilian fights for basic human rights go both ways between Canada and the US.

“The influence is beyond borders. It’s no coincidence that you find most progressive states are border states- what Vermont is doing with health care, for instance.”

Analysts like Engler note that Canadian and US activists often work beyond borders for various social causes. The anti-corporate economic justice movements that swept the world in the Occupy movement that started last year were a cross-border, continental affair, for instance.

What is unclear from reactions against Canada’s various international business deals is what the alternative would look like in practice — a Canada where Canadians are empowered to determine the destiny of their own natural resources, or, as Velk says, something akin to hyper-isolated states like “North Korea or Cuba.”


Massoud Hayoun is a North African American writer and speaker on Middle East, North African and Chinese affairs. He has written for The Atlantic, TIME Magazine…Read Massoud Hayoun’s bio » http://www.vancouverobserver.com/contributors/massoud-hayoun

continue reading source: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/commentary/chinese-are-coming-and-other-problematic-canadian-sovereignty-woes


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Cameron and Obama ended the neocon era. But the era of Assad goes on

David Cameron and Barack Obama buried the neocons in Washington. But the west will pay a price for the quiet life

The Guardian
Wednesday 14 March 2012 21.20 GMT

Barack Obama welcomes David Cameron
Barack Obama welcomes David Cameron during an official arrival ceremony on the south lawn of the White House in Washington today. Photograph: Mark Wilson / POOL/EPA

It is as easy to be distracted by the outward glamour of a prime ministerial visit to Washington as it is to fail to discern its occasional real inner substance. Both things apply in the case of David Cameron’s White House talks with Barack Obama. On one level they were the very embodiment of the self-indulgent vacuity of which Simon Jenkins wrote here. On another, they marked the end of a chapter in modern history.

On Wednesday in the White House they buried the neocons. Or, to put it rather more carefully, since neoconservatism has been through many contrasting incarnations and the term is widely misused, Cameron and Obama marked the imminent close of the phase of US-UK foreign policy that began after 9/11 with the coming together of American imperial power and British support for the active promotion of democracy and liberal institutions, particularly in the Muslim world.

Of course, like most attempts to draw a line in the sand of history, this one is approximate and inconclusive in many ways. The Afghanistan campaign which, along with the jihadist threat, is one of the few constants of the past decade, is not over yet. There will still be nearly 70,000 US troops in Afghanistan at the turn of this year and 9,000 British until late next, with an “enduring commitment” beyond that. The interventionist reflex, the wish to nurture liberal institutions as a counterweight to jihadism, and the sheer ability to act with greater military effectiveness than most rivals will all continue to shape US and UK foreign policy in the Muslim world and elsewhere for as far ahead as the eye can see.

Meanwhile, for all the buddiness of the US visit and the Churchillian rhetoric of their Washington Post op-ed piece this week, the two leaders do not march in lockstep anyway. Obama put it with utter clarity in Wednesday’s White House press conference. Britain and America are different economies in different places. The one nation is an indisputable first-rank world power. The other is a leading second-rank one that cannot act unilaterally even if it wanted to. The US is bound into the Middle East, in particular in relations with Israel, in ways that do not apply to Britain to the same degree. Cameron was more committed to intervention in Libya and is keener on intervention in Syria than Obama.

Yet, even when all these and many other provisos are taken into account, Wednesday was still the end of an era. Over Afghanistan – despite all the talk about the upcoming Nato summit, the handover to Afghan security forces and Obama’s claim that there will be “no steep cliff” of rapid pullout at the end of 2014 – the aim is withdrawal. Recent killings of Brits and by Americans and Wednesday’s audacious attack inside Camp Bastion are all harbingers of that. “People get weary,” said Obama, in a moment of frankness. The pullout will happen because the voters have lost the will to fight.

The similar surface noise over Iran and Syria also conceals a deeper current, a long withdrawing roar of disengagement. Cameron and Obama dwelt less on Iran and Syria than they did on Afghanistan. That’s partly because there is less they can do there, even the Americans, certainly the British. The Washington Post joint article emphasised that there is time and space to pursue a diplomatic solution in Iran, buttressed by stronger sanctions. There is not an iota of ambiguity in the toughness of the language, but the unspoken reality is that Obama would do almost anything to avoid getting trapped into a military strike against Iran. That doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. But it does mean that he thinks, rightly, that it would be a mark of failure if it did.

In Syria the limits of engagement are even more stark. At the White House press conference, Obama spoke about aid to the opposition, about pressure on the regime, about mobilising the nations and tightening the sanctions. Cameron threatened the Assad dynasty with the international criminal court. It all sounds like action, and it is all useful incremental stuff. But it is action at a distance, with strict limits. It is not intervention, because the international order has a collective interest in inaction and because the costs – not least the political costs at home – are deemed too high.

All this is, in very large part, the politics of where we are now. Faced with all three of these grim situations at once – a decade-long losing struggle against a feudal patriarchal narco-state, the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of a paranoid revolutionary theocracy, and the readiness of a corrupt Arab socialist autocrat to kill his own people for the sake of the revolution – it is hardly surprising that Obama and Cameron hold back. Who’s to blame them for doing so? The historic failure in Iraq leaves them little choice. But so does the fragility of the global economy. Even if the US and the UK were faced with only one of the three problems, Iraq and the recession would make them think twice.

A large part of all of us breathes a huge sigh of relief at this. The post-George Bush era finally beckons. Withdrawal from Afghanistan means no more pointless deaths of young soldiers, no more massacres, insults and acts of desecration against Afghans – at least by Americans. Western nations think in instant gratification terms and short timescales and this has all gone on too long. The west has had enough of fear and shame and hard times, of making enemies out of strangers and realising that getting people to change their ways is harder than it first seemed. People get weary, just like Obama said.

Another part of us, though, ought to reflect on what is being lost by this overwhelming collective disengagement. The disengagement is happening because the mistakes – crimes if you prefer – of the past have created a collective war-weariness that has now become a collective war-wariness. It is natural to want the conflict to end.

Who wouldn’t? It’s not wrong to want a quiet life, but how right is it when it comes at a price that someone else will inevitably have to pay? That wasn’t acceptable to earlier generations who scorned non-intervention in Spain or Abyssinia. Obama and Cameron closed the door on the George Bush era on Wednesday, to the general relief of the world. But the era of Mullah Omar, Ayatollah Khamenei and Bashar al-Assad goes on, posing questions that will one day have to be answered.

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Tougher foreign policy vital to Canada: Baird

By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News
December 28, 2011

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird knows some of his government’s positions on the world stage are unpopular. Supporting Israel and walking away from the Kyoto accord earlier this month are two examples.

Baird won’t apologize for either.

“We don’t develop foreign policy to be popular around the world,” he says in a recent interview with Postmedia News. “Sometimes you’re alone saying something, and then a number of years later, it’s conventional wisdom.”

The refusal to concede on issues of importance to the government is one of the clearest marks that Canada’s approach to world affairs has undergone a dramatic change since the Conservatives first came to power nearly six years ago,

Gone is the so-called “soft power” and “human security agenda” of the previous Liberal government, symbolized by consensus building at the United Nations and diplomatic initiatives like peacekeeping.

In its place is a clear pursuit of interests linked to an uncompromising projection of values backed up by a strong military.

The government’s top concern, says Baird, is Canadian economic prosperity.

“It is a lens through which we view almost anything,” he says. “Foreign policy has become even more important to the economy. It’s really essential.”

The Foreign Affairs Department budget has increased by about $700 million since 2006 to $2.8 billion. Where it has resulted in more feet on the ground, those have largely been trade commissioners in trade offices opened in China, India, Brazil and other economic hotspots.

At the same time, Baird is quick to list the number of free trade and foreign investment agreements being pursued by the government. Perhaps not by coincidence, when Canada’s embassy in Tripoli, Libya reopened in September, the first officials deployed were trade officers, not political and human rights experts.

But nothing is bigger than the United States, and Baird identifies the recent Canada-U.S. border security agreement as the best example of “traditional diplomacy” from the last year.

“It took a solid, personal relationship at the top between the prime minister and the president in order to initiate something, successfully see its conclusion and announce it,” Baird says.

The same is true with the mission in Libya, he adds.

“I think Libya’s a big success because of strong leadership on behalf of the prime minister,” Baird says, though he also praises Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian commander who oversaw the NATO operation.

In fact, the foreign affairs minister describes Libya as Canada’s biggest diplomatic accomplishment in the past year.

“No doubt the diplomatic work, the coalition-building and the military success in Libya was a big one for Canada,” he says. “How many thousands, tens of thousands, of civilian lives were saved? It’s just a remarkable accomplishment. (Moammar) Gadhafi was just the worst of the worst.”

The Canadian military has emerged as a major player in Canadian foreign policy in recent years, bolstered by the fact the Defence Department budget has increased nearly $5.6 billion to $20.3 billion since the Conservative government came into power. This has included the purchase of new aircraft, ships and armoured vehicles, as well as heavy combat roles in Afghanistan and Libya.

Critics have lamented what they say is the Conservative government’s prioritizing of military power over Canada’s traditional strength, diplomacy.

Sitting in his 10th-floor office at Foreign Affairs headquarters, known in Ottawa circles as Fort Pearson, Baird says the government is simply undoing years of damage wreaked by Liberal governments in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“The military was gutted for 13 years,” he says. “Hollowed out. Even the man the Liberals appointed to be chief of defence staff (Rick Hillier) called it a ‘decade of darkness.’ That didn’t happen here at DFAIT.”

But while the government is preparing to spend billions on new F-35 fighter jets, Baird refuses to rule out the closure of Canadian embassies abroad through budget cuts next year.

“I’m confident within the department we can achieve our mandate,” he says. “If spending is unsustainable, that’s the biggest threat to the public service, that’s the biggest threat to the department.”

Baird’s appointment to the Foreign Affairs portfolio in May came as a surprise to many. Known for his bombastic style in the House of Commons, many wondered whether he would be able to make the transition to becoming Canada’s top diplomat.

Baird says the biggest lesson he’s learned is that nothing matters more in Foreign Affairs than personal relationships.

“When we have an issue, whether it’s in the United States, whether it’s in Turkey, being able to pick up the phone and talk to my counterpart directly about it,” he says.

The country’s failure to land a UN Security Council seat in October 2010, ultimately losing to Portugal, has called into question whether the Conservative government has squandered the goodwill built up over the decades by previous Canadian governments.

Baird initially tries to blame North Korea and Iran, but eventually acknowledges some of the unpopular positions taken by Canada in recent years were a factor in turning away countries in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world.

When asked how he reconciles the importance of strong relationships with the fact a number of positions adopted by the government are unpopular with the international community, Baird indicates those who are most critical of Canada’s stances aren’t likely to be friends anyway.

“We’ve taken a tough stand on human rights in some parts of the world, and that makes some people feel very uncomfortable,” he says. “If you’re a government which doesn’t respect human rights, you’re probably not keen on Canada talking about the rights of women, the rights of religious minorities, the rights of gays and lesbians.”

In recent weeks, Canada has been called out by many nations, including European allies, for abandoning the Kyoto Protocol.

Baird says only a few countries have brought the issue up with him personally, adding that the government is simply leading where other nations will eventually follow.

He says this is exactly what happened with Canadian calls several years ago for all major emitters to be included in whatever climate change agreement is negotiated after Kyoto.

“People may not have liked our position on climate change in 2007, but they’ve adopted it almost wholly across much of the world today,” he said

original source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Tougher+foreign+policy+vital+Canada+Baird/5916863/story.html

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How the Jewish Vote Swung from Red to Blue

How the Jewish Vote Swung from Red to Blue
By Michelle Collins – embassymag.ca
February 11, 2009

Just days into the Gaza conflict, on Dec. 29, even before the Conservative government had spoken on the situation, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff delivered the most strongly-worded statement on Israel’s right of defence of any Liberal leader in recent history.

“The Liberal Party of Canada unequivocally condemns the rocket attacks launched by Hamas against Israeli civilians and calls for an immediate end to these attacks,” Mr. Ignatieff said. “We affirm Israel’s right to defend itself against such attacks, and also its right to exist in peace and security.”

Not only was it a jump from the Pearsonian middle-road taken by Liberal parties past when it comes to the Middle East, but it came from the same man who had just two years earlier accused Israel of war crimes in a similar military operation carried out against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The move garnered support from some corners. National Post columnist Jonathan Kay—a longtime critic of the Liberal’s “even-handed” approach on the Middle East and Israel—wrote that with this statement, Mr. Ignatieff had “taken a firm pro-Israel line in the Gaza conflict,” calling the move smart politics and a “stirring demonstration of moral clarity.”

Some observers pointed to the fact that Hamas is a listed terrorist organization that has recklessly launched rockets into a sovereign state for years as likely reasons for the apparent switch. But Hezbollah is also a listed terrorist organization and has launched similar attacks.

Others note that in the summer of 2006, Mr. Ignatieff was not the leader of the Liberal Party, nor at the time was there much evidence that traditional Jewish support for the party was slipping toward the Conservatives because of the latter’s strong pro-Israel policies.

But it has now become clear that with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the helm, the Conservative Party’s pro-Israel politics have won the respect—and support—of a large segment of Canada’s organized Jewish community.

At the same time, a swing in Jewish votes toward the Conservatives in the last election cost the Liberals at least one affluent Toronto-area seat in Thornhill, where Peter Kent defeated Liberal Susan Kadis, despite the fact the latter is Jewish and had spoken out against Mr. Ignatieff’s comments in 2006. The election also saw Conservatives take marginal victories in a handful of other ridings where Jewish voters make up sizeable numbers, as reported by Canadian Jewish News on Oct. 23.

The message at the ballot box was loud and clear—the Liberals may have spent years listening to what the Jewish community had to say, but they hadn’t delivered.

“People were getting sick and tired of [the Liberal position],” says James Diamond, the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Chair of Jewish Studies at the University of Waterloo. “I know Canada always wants to play a neutral role, but sometimes people feel there’s a right and a wrong on an issue, so why play a neutral role? And you know, the Conservatives were coming out and they have been true to their word.”

Mr. Diamond, who voted for the Conservatives in October’s federal election, says Mr. Harper had struck a chord with him, and many other Jewish voters.

Now, experts say Mr. Ignatieff’s surprise declaration highlights the extent to which the Liberals find themselves playing catch-up to the Conservative Party, which is reaping the benefits of the Jewish community’s fulsome support.

The extent to which that support matters at the ballot-box and in influencing Canada’s foreign policy remains a sensitive and hotly debated topic. But that hasn’t stopped the Conservatives from enjoying the fact they have taken one of the Liberal Party’s traditional bases, or the Liberals from fretting over how to win them back.

At the same time, however, Canada’s Arab community is growing, and experts say blatant efforts to win the Jewish community’s support at the Arab community’s expense could alienate an expanding bloc of voters.

Middle East James Diamond,Dominates

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of Jewish people living in Canada, in part because in the government’s Census survey, “Jewish” can be described as a religion or an ethnicity. Experts estimate Jewish-Canadians represent about one per cent of the population, or upward of an estimated 350,000.

While they may have been important in deciding the winner in a number of important urban ridings during the last election, they represent only a small voting segment. Nonetheless, Jewish-Canadians are said to be more politically engaged than many other groups and are consistent voters.

“The Jewish community is a longstanding community,” says Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress. “They are quite sophisticated in terms of their voting patterns. Certainly in the last four or five elections that has been shown.”

Yet Mr. Farber and many experts insist there is no monolithic Jewish voting bloc in Canada.

“I don’t think today any particular party can count on a ‘Jewish vote,'” he says.

There is also sharp debate over just how much power and clout the Jewish community holds. However, what is clear is that the Jewish community is well-organized, extremely politically active, and that they get their message out to top politicians and bureaucrats in ways many other cultural, ethnic and religious groups just can’t hope to match.

“I think it’s not so much the vote that matters,” says David Bercuson, a historian and director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. “There are a lot of Jews who are active in Canadian society through just about every field or endeavour today, which was not true 50 years ago. And I guess politicians think that those are ‘more influential’, let’s say, than other groups. [They] are more to be listened to.”

Morton Weinfeld, director of Canadian ethnic studies at McGill University, says there are many issues on the “Jewish communal agenda” that voters look for, but the Middle East dominates.

A number of senior politicians, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they are often perplexed at how much political attention is directed at the Arab-Israeli conflict, suggesting that it diverts resources away from other conflicts and humanitarian crises Canada could help around the world.

Part of the reason, it is acknowledged, is the outspoken and active lobbying undertaken by the organized Jewish community as well as, though to a lesser extent, that of the organized Arab community, whose groups are less established or organized.

One of the leading Jewish organizations is the Canada-Israel Committee, which was formed in the late 1960s to promote “increased understanding” between the peoples of Canada and Israel. CIC’s operations really expanded in 1973, in response to the Yom Kippur war. It has since become one of the largest foreign policy lobby groups in the country and has a permanent staff in Ottawa.

“Certainly I would say that the stands of the [Canada-Israel Committee] and B’nai Brith represent the large majority of Canadians in the Canadian Jewish community,” says Ira Robinson, a professor of Judaic studies at Concordia University in Montreal.

Also very active on Canada-Israeli relations, B’nai Brith Canada, a membership-based organization that is known to lean toward the right of Canada’s political spectrum, describes itself as the voice of grassroots Canadian Jewry and the country’s foremost Jewish human rights organization.

Jewish groups such as the CIC really began building up their clout and contacts with all political parties in the early 1970s. They have maintained close contact since and, as a result, are perceived to garner a fair amount of political traction.

Senior politicians and Middle East policy advisers say these Jewish organizations are perceived as being influential, and past surveys of Foreign Affairs staff confirm such a perception.

“In Canada it’s harder to lobby, yet the pro-Israeli lobby is still very effective. And they do a good job, they’re very skilled, they’re very on-message,” says a Middle East policy adviser who didn’t want to be named. “They’re constantly in contact with MPs, with the Department of Foreign Affairs. Whenever Foreign Affairs does something [on the Middle East] it’s going to get sort of positive or negative signals from the [Canada-Israel Committee].”

CIC has traditionally been the most active group in federal politics with the goal of influencing Canada’s policies on the Middle East. Last year, according to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, CIC representatives met with, among others, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Mark Cameron, a director in the prime minister’s office. A search for meetings with Arab, Muslim and Palestinian groups elicited no results.

Of all the free trips MPs accepted last year, Israel outnumbered other destinations by nearly two to one—even outpacing Taiwan, which was the top destination for freebies in 2007. According to Canada’s ethics commissioner, the Canada-Israel Committee spent more than $200,000 to send 23 federal politicians and their spouses to the Middle East.

Despite some of their best efforts to influence policy, however, Jewish organizations’ degree of success is apparently immeasurable, and experts generally say it has been low. In fact, in what little academic work has been devoted to exploring the role of Canada’s well-established Jewish organizations, all have concluded that they have had little effect.

“It’s not clear that the CIC has had major impact on government policy,” Mr. Weinfeld says. “They’ll probably say they’ve had a significant impact…certainly on the margins it has had some impact. It’s provided information and gone with MPs on tours to Israel…[but] I don’t think they have an enormous amount of power.”

Akaash Maharaj, who was national policy chair of the Liberal Party from 1998 until 2003, says Jewish and Arab groups have been “extremely successful” at raising their issues, noting that for a country geographically located far from Israel, their lobbying efforts ensure Middle East affairs remain a prominent political topic.

“The issue of peace in the Middle East, as important as it is, occupied vastly more political oxygen in Ottawa than it does in many capitals around the world because of the activism of Muslim and Jewish organizations than it would otherwise,” Mr. Maharaj says. “But having raised the profile of that question, I don’t believe either group of groups has been disproportionately successful in having its answers to those questions being embraced by government.”

In 2004, this lack of tangible success by the major groups led to the creation of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, or CIJA, a pro-Israel advocacy group to act as an umbrella organization that would streamline their combined lobbying efforts.

On its website, CIJA posts politicians’ comments about Israel dating back to 1998 and encourages its members to contact politicians, to call in to radio shows, and to blog their support for Israel online.

But Mira Sucharov, associate professor of political science at Carleton University, says it’s hard to know whether Canadian foreign policy towards the Middle East has been changed as a result of such activities.

“It’s difficult to analyze, in the case of particularly the Conservative government, whether they cause a policy tilt that is more sympathetic toward Israel or whether that is the Harper world view to start with.

“And I think there’s a lot to be said for the latter, and I think it’s a natural convergence of interests,” Ms. Sucharov says.

Mr. Robinson, too, says it is unlikely that the advocacy of Jewish organizations would cause a government to reverse a position.

“If you have a conviction that is less supportive of Israel, the fact that you have contacts from the Jewish community making representation is not going to change your mind all that much, this is what the historical record shows,” Mr. Robinson says.

“Stephen Harper is supportive of Israel not because the Jews sent a lobbying group and said: ‘Please Stephen Harper, support Israel.’ If he did not want to, he would cordially talk to all kinds of groups and do what he feels is right and proper.”

Harper and the Middle East

Mr. Harper is not the first prime minister to be accused of taking a pro-Israel stance to the Middle East—both Conservative prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney first entered office with pro-Israel policy ideas—but it seems Mr. Harper is the first who has not been forced to back down.

So pivotal has the Middle East been considered within Canada that academics widely agree the measure of a prime minister’s approach to the Middle East inevitably becomes a matter of historical record.

“The Middle East frustrated Lester Pearson, preoccupied Joe Clark, angered Pierre Trudeau, and remains a minefield which Brian Mulroney has attempted to avoid, not always with success,” authors David Taras and David H. Goldberg wrote in the 1989 book The Domestic Battleground: Canada and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Mr. Harper is known to have strong ideological views on the Middle East, which he has repeatedly tried to contrast with those of the opposition. This stance is believed to be borne of his own convictions, rather than of any outside influence or political agenda. As a result, he keeps a tight grip over all statements on Israel and is heavy-handed about which MPs can speak on the issue.

“Obviously Stephen Harper as prime minister, and the Conservative Party in general, have adopted a very pro-Israel stance. I think they’re doing that out of conviction,” says Harold Waller, a political science professor at McGill University.

Since the Conservatives came to power in January 2006, many analysts and former foreign affairs officials say, there has been a marked shift in Canada’s approach toward the Middle East. While welcomed by many as a principled stance in support of Israel and against terrorism, others say the policy doesn’t hold Israel to the same standards as other countries.

Critics of the Conservative’s foreign policy have also accused Mr. Harper of modelling his positions after former U.S. president George W. Bush, who is considered to have presided over the most pro-Israel administration in history.

Two months into governing, in March 2006, Mr. Harper cut aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. Canada was the first country to do so, apart from Israel.

His pro-Israel position has been underscored by public statements, speeches, and a changed voting pattern at the United Nations, though this realigning of diplomacy against “unbalanced” UN resolutions, in fact, started under Liberal prime minister Paul Martin.

In 2005, Mr. Martin explained this shift as an attempt to depoliticize the United Nations, including the new UN Human Rights Council, rather than a move to appease Israel.

“We will continue to press for the kinds of reform that will eliminate the politicization of the United Nations and its agencies, and in particular the annual ritual of politicized, anti-Israel resolutions,” he said.

But the Conservatives, led by Mr. Harper, have repeatedly stated that Canada and Israel share the same values, namely respect for human rights, the rule of law, freedom and democracy, which makes the two mutual partners. At the same time, the Conservative view is Israel is a fellow democracy that is under siege, and it is imperative Canada stand with its ally.

“Unfortunately, Israel at 60 remains a country under threat, threatened by groups and regimes who deny, to this very day, its right to exist,” he said on May 8, 2008 at an event in Toronto. “And why? Make no mistake. Look beyond the thinly veiled rationalizations—because they hate Israel, just as much as they hate the Jewish people. Our government believes that those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada.”

Reaching Out to Jewish Voters

Whether the Conservative Party’s policies have simply happened to coalesce with the greater Jewish community’s views or not, it isn’t skimping from taking full advantage of the appeal its policies have for many Jewish voters.

“I think it is clear that, without question, this particular government has been very supportive of some of the causes that have been of concern to this community specifically, like the issue of security around our buildings and schools, the issue of anti-Semitism and racism, the issue of human rights, and Israel,” says Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress. “Of course these are all matters of concern to our community and this particular government has been very supportive.”

At the same time, the Conservatives have been actively using their outright support for Israel to reach out to the Jewish community and recruit what were traditionally Liberal Party loyalists over to their political party.

“At the heart of relations between Canada and Israel is the dynamism of our shared communities,” the prime minister said in a statement released on May 14, 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

Over the last two years, Mr. Harper has made a habit of sending New Year’s cards to Jewish-Canadians, many of whom were surprised—and some angered—to be on the prime minister’s mailing list.

In the Globe and Mail last September, Jewish broadcaster and producer Ralph Benmergui wrote an opinion piece about the Tory government’s robust support for Israel and the tactic of sending Rosh Hashanah cards, calling it an “unctuous political strategy.”

The Conservatives have been anything but shy about promoting their pro-Israel stance while painting the Liberals the exact opposite. After the October 2008 election, Canadian Jewish News reported the Tories had succeeded in gaining more Jewish voters, in part because they “touted themselves throughout the campaign as the only party with a staunchly pro-Israel record.”

It was clear, however that the Liberals were already floundering among Jewish voters.

When business-magnates and couple Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz—CEOs of Indigo Books and Onex Corporation—announced they were throwing their support behind Mr. Harper in August 2006 because of his support for Israel, their partisan switch was headline news. Both had previously played leading roles in the Liberal Party; Ms. Reisman is a past national policy chair and Mr. Schwartz a former Liberal Party president. “Liberal power couple back Harper on Mideast,” the Globe and Mail reported; “Canada’s pro-Israel premier lures Jews to Tories,” reported The Jerusalem Post.

Around the same time, noted filmmaker Robert Lantos also spoke publicly of his switch to the Conservatives, telling a pro-Israel rally in Toronto in August 2006 that he thanked Mr. Harper for his “principled support” of Israel.

“I hereby take off my lifelong federal Liberal hat to you. Symbolically, I toss it away, if there were anyone willing to catch it,” Mr. Lantos said.

The most blatant example of the emerging partisan divide came in Mr. Harper’s response to Mr. Ignatieff’s comments accusing Israel of war crimes in the Lebanon conflict. In October 2006, Mr. Harper told reporters this was “consistent with the anti-Israeli position that has been taken by virtually all of the candidates for the Liberal leadership. I don’t think it’s helpful or useful.”

The accusation outraged Liberals and triggered drastic action within the party. An open letter calling on the prime minister to make a public apology, signed by 172 MPs and supporters, was released on Oct. 19, 2006.

Liberal Party officials are frank about the drop they’ve witnessed in Jewish support, and reporters and media pundits have been scratching at the issue for the past three years.

As Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein put it, “I think what happened is that the Liberals have always taken a position of balance, and the Jewish community had felt that balance was unfair.”

Akaash Maharaj, former national policy chair for the Liberals, says mixed reactions among Jewish voters to the party’s Middle East politics started to emerge even before the Tories took over government.

“I would say there was a criticism of the Liberal Party’s foreign policy during that period, that it tried to walk this middle path when people would argue that the truth does not necessarily lie midway between two extremes,” Mr. Maharaj says.

In November 2006, Steven Pinkus, vice-president of the Liberal’s Quebec wing, told The Jewish Tribune the party had “lost significant support from one of its traditional strong bases” as a result of the fallout to Mr. Ignatieff’s reaction to the conflict in Lebanon. Mr. Ignatieff was the presumptive frontrunner for the Liberal leadership at the time, which eventually went to Stéphane Dion.

Ariela Cotler, former justice minister and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s wife, went so far as to publicly quit the Liberal party over Mr. Ignatieff’s comments, and in a letter to the National Post said Mr. Ignatieff lacked “moral integrity.”

At the same time, interim Liberal leader Bill Graham refused to take a position on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict while the party was busy choosing a new leader—though he did accuse Mr. Harper of abandoning Canada’s traditional role as an “interlocutor” in the Middle East.

While Mr. Ignatieff was levelling strong criticisms at Israel over its actions in Lebanon and the rest of the Liberal Party, led by Bill Graham, refused to take a side, Mr. Harper was taking a strong stand. He voiced outright support for Israel—describing its actions as a “measured” response at a time when the rest of the world was aghast—and he was one of a tiny group of world leaders who openly resisted international calls for a ceasefire.

The Tories’ aggressive efforts to paint the Liberals as anti-Israeli prompted the creation of a group called Liberal Friends of Israel within the party. The group’s co-chairs, Meredith Caplan, Michael Levitt and Jason Cherniak, have been outspoken of their party’s pro-Israel views and organized several rallies across Canada.

“Those who seek to characterize the Liberal Party as anti-Israel should take note of what we’re doing and of our leader’s support for what we’re doing,” Ms. Caplan said at a Walk with Israel event in Winnipeg in May 2007, which then-leader Stéphane Dion attended, along with many Liberal MPs, among them Mr. Ignatieff, Anita Neville, Ken Dryden, Irwin Cotler, Bob Rae, Carolyn Bennett and Senator Art Eggleton.

Liberals say the party is making a concerted effort to re-earn the support of voters, from all cultural and religious groups, who have either voted for other parties or stayed away from the polls in recent elections.

“I don’t think this is likely to translate into a dramatic shift in policy positions, but it certainly has manifested itself in terms of willingness to forcefully articulate existing positions; support for the state of Israel, for example,” Mr. Maharaj says of the Liberals outreach to Jewish voters. “I would say it’s more an understanding that it must articulate its positions rather than mumble quietly when asked difficult questions.”

The Growing Arab Community

According to Statistics Canada, the number of people in Canada of Arab origin is growing considerably faster than the overall population, and Canadians of Arab origin make up one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada.

In 2001, an estimated 350,000 Arabs lived in Canada. By 2006, Montreal’s Arab population had grown by nearly 50 per cent to number an approximate 109,000 in that city alone.

While experts agree Jewish organizations have been extremely effective at reaching out to politicians, there is an awareness that Canada’s Arab community is getting stronger and more politically active.

McGill professor Harold Waller says Arab and Muslim groups carry out similar activities as Jewish organizations, contacting members of Parliament and the bureaucracy, but that Arab groups aren’t as well established at this point.

“I don’t think their influence is as great as the pro-Israel groups,” Mr. Waller says. “On the other hand, I think that the political parties are very much aware of the growing number of Arab and Muslim voters in the country, so some of the MPs in particular are beginning to respond to constituents and espouse that cause.”

Noting Mr. Ignatieff’s strong support for Israel during the Gaza conflict, Mr. Waller says it will be tricky for the Liberal Party to try to sway Jewish voters back to them while also trying to attract new immigrant voters.

“They will have to be very careful if they want to try to hold both Jewish and Arab voters. And, of course, one way to do that is to avoid taking critical positions on these issues, which I think was what some of the more recent Liberal governments tried to do,” Mr. Waller says.

Senator Grafstein says he finds that Arabs and Muslims are extremely active and are constantly sending emails to him.

“I would think that when it comes to working at the party level that they’re much visible and much more pro-active, certainly within the parties, certainly more than any Jewish organizations are,” Mr. Grafstein says.

However, he says much of the correspondence is “heated and unbalanced,” adding that he is influenced by facts, not vitriol.

He says that parliamentarians are very much affected by such communications, particularly when it comes in such high numbers.

Some of the more prominent groups include the Canadian Arab Federation, Palestine House, the Muslim Canadian Congress and the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations.

Samah Sabawi, a Palestinian-Canadian and an advocate for increasing dialogue on issues of the Middle East, says it is true that Arab and Muslim groups are younger and less organized. She says they continue to struggle to establish strong political connections.

Despite repeated requests for a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon in response to the Gaza crisis, groups such as the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations were told the minister was unavailable.

Another challenge, she says, is that Arab-Canadians are hesitant to join advocacy organizations because they are a newer ethnic community in Canada and they don’t fully understand the political system.

“Most of the Arab-Canadians come from countries where they don’t trust institutions, and they don’t trust the system and so they’re not as willing to donate to advocacy groups. It’s really hard to get them behind an advocacy organization because of that lack of trust,” Ms. Sabawi says.

Some events in the last 10 years, however, have prompted many in the Arab community to become more involved, she says, beginning with the period following 9/11, the Lebanon war in 2006, and now the Gaza conflict.

However, Ms. Sabawi says there is still much work to be done in making their concerns heard among politicians.

“Different parties are more open to exploring the Arab community and to listening to members of the Arab community, for sure with the Conservative Party of Canada we still have a lot of work to do.

“And more recently with the Liberals as well as they try to figure out their direction and to re-establish themselves.”

continue reading source: http://embassymag.ca/page/printpage/jewish_vote-2-11-2009

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A Conversation with Stephen Harper

A Conversation with Stephen Harper

Watch Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada, discuss priorities for Canadian foreign policy, including climate change, the Americas and NAFTA, security in Afghanistan, and arctic sovereignty.


SPEAKER: Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, Canada
PRESIDER: Marie-Josee Kravis, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Inc.


ORIGINALLY RECORDED September 25, 2007
Uploaded by cfr on May 3, 2011

Category: Nonprofits & Activism
License: Standard YouTube License

continue viewing source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo8cNuBUGX4


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This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. and intend its use to be for education and instructional purposes only. Therefore, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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A Very Scary Harper Story

A Very Scary Harper Story

By Jodie Giesz-Ramsay – Tuesday, January 17 2006

What the Conservatives plan to do to change Canada – for worse.

The following is an essay written by Stephen Harper in June, 2003 and posted on the Christian Coalition International (Canada) site. It’s a frightening look into Harper’s views on Conservative policies, including references to George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and how Canada should be like America.

If you had no reason to vote before, you have an obligation as a true Canadian citizen to vote against the Conservative Party, do what you can to elect whomever is in second running to your local right-wing candidate.

Despite the sometimes-dull points in the following essay, you will surely be absorbed as you read, in shock, the twisted words from Stephen Harper’s mind.

Save Canada ? Stop the Conservatives!

Rediscovering The Right Agenda

June 2003
By Stephen Harper – Report Magazine

The Canadian Alliance leader outlines how social and economic conservatism must unite

After years of strategic drift, Harper positions the Alliance as an equal partnership of social and economic conservatism. This article is based on his remarks at the Civitas meeting in Toronto on April 25, 2003

The Canadian Alliance wrapped up its leadership race a little over one year ago. At the time, the chattering classes told us the race was about the so-called “unity” issue – the question of whether we should have one “conservative” party or two. But I asked the 100,000-plus members of our party a different question: do we actually stand for something, or don’t we?

I posed this question because what Alliance members feared most was seeing our agenda slipping away. Simply put, our members worried less about having two so-called “conservative parties” than about having no conservative party at all.

I believe the majority of members supported my leadership bid for approaching the debate in these terms. My mandate as leader is therefore to ensure that the Alliance remains a strong and principled voice for conservatism in national politics.


There are two ways conservatives can respond to the challenges faced at the national level. Our party has explored both over the years, in two important phases. These two phases were not “Reform” and “Alliance”: they were not about name or organizational changes.

Rather, our party underwent one period in which it was policy-driven, and another period in which it was process-driven. In the policy-driven phase, the party emphasized what it stood for. It took stands on a litany of issues, from its fight against he Meech Lake/Charlottetown constitutional agenda, to the battle for deficit reduction, lower taxes and fiscal responsibility. This was the period in which the party grew from nothing to become an important electoral and parliamentary force.

However, for the past half-decade or so, the party moved into a phase in which it emphasized process. Specifically, the party focused its energies on a process by which it could garner greater electoral success. This was called “coalition building.” In practice, it involved disassembling the party’s institutional structures in order to bring in new supporters from other entities. In terms of policy, conferences were held to create and sell a new “vision.” In practice, this amounted largely to making existing policy stands vague or simply invisible. Whatever the electoral potential of this approach promised by the polls, the results were clearly going in the opposite direction.

Those two options still confront us today. One option is to work within an existing political party to create a conservative “coalition.” In my judgement this option is the way to go, and the best vehicle to do it is the Canadian Alliance.

I also believe that a combination of existing political parties, such as the Alliance and the PCs, could potentially be an ever better vehicle. But that is not Joe Clark’s opinion. It appears not to be Peter MacKay’s. In fact, there is no guarantee or likelihood it will ever be the opinion of a federal PC leader. They seem to prefer to use the PC Party to build their own coalition.

While I may disagree with the Tories choice, it certainly makes more sense than the other option – to work outside both entities and, in the name of “uniting the right,” to promote their mutual failure. To use George W. Bush’s phrase, whatever your political objective or party, electoral success requires a “coalition of the willing” and nothing less.


Whatever attraction a coalition of parties may have, we need to concentrate on what is actually doable. That is, we need to form a coalition of voters and, to attract them, a coalition of ideas.

What is the “conservative coalition” of ideas? Actually, conservatism and conservative parties, as we’ve known them over the decades, have always been coalitions. Though these coalitions are complex and continually shifting, two distinctive elements have long been identifiable.

Ted Byfield labelled these factions “neo-con” and “theo-con.” More commonly, they are known simply as economic conservatives and social conservatives. Properly speaking, they are called classical or enlightenment liberalism and classical or Burkean conservatism.

The one called “economic conservatism” does indeed come from classical liberalism. Its primary value is individual freedom, and to that end it stresses private enterprise, free trade, religious toleration, limited government and the rule of law.

The other philosophy is Burkean conservatism. Its primary value is social order. It stresses respect for customs and traditions (religious traditions above all), voluntary association, and personal self-restraint reinforced by moral and legal sanctions on behaviour.

The essence of this conservatism is, according to Russell Kirk, “the preservation of the ancient moral traditions of humanity. Conservatives respect the wisdom of their ancestors: they are dubious of wholesale alteration. They think society is a spiritual reality, possessing an eternal life but a delicate constitution: it cannot be scrapped and recast as if it were a machine.”

In the 19th century, these two political philosophies, classical liberalism and Burkean conservatism, formed the basis for distinct political parties that opposed one another. On the one side was a liberal party in the classical sense – rationalist, anticlerical but not anti-religious, free-trading, often republican and usually internationalist. On the other side was an older conservative party – traditionalist, explicitly or implicitly denominational, economically protectionist, usually monarchist, and nationalistic.

In the 20th century, these opposing forces came together as a result of two different forces: resistance to a common enemy, and commitment to ideas widely shared.

The common enemy was the rise of radical socialism in its various forms. In this context, Burkean conservatives and classical liberals discovered a commitment to a core of common ideas. Both groups favoured private property, small government and reliance on civil society rather than the state to resolve social dilemmas and to create social process. Domestically, both groups resisted those who stood for public ownership, government interventionism, egalitarian redistribution and state sponsorship of secular humanist values. Internationally, they stood unequivocally against external enemies – fascism, communism and socialist totalitarianism in all its forms.


For decades, conservative parties were successful, often dominant, coalitions in western democracies. But conservatism has been in trouble in recent years. Partisan success has been much less common. In some countries, the traditional conservative coalition even appears to have broken down.

The irony is that these hard times have fallen on the heels of perhaps the most successful period in democratic conservatism’s history – the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions. I believe that it is this very success that is at the heart of the current difficulties.

The Reagan-Thatcher revolution was so successful that it permanently undermined the traditional social-democratic/left-liberal consensus in a number of democratic countries. It worked domestically to undermine the left-liberal or social-democratic consensus, causing those parties to simply stop fighting and adopt much of the winning conservative agenda. Socialists and liberals began to stand for balanced budgeting, the superiority of markets, welfare reversal, free trade and some privatization. At the same time, the fall of the Berlin Wall signalled the collapse of Soviet Communism as a driving world force, depriving conservatives of all shares of a common external enemy.

It is critical we realize that this breakdown is not a fundamental incompatibility between “neo-cons” and “theo-cons,” between economic and social conservatism. Even in the worst-case example, Canada’s Mulroney coalition did not break up because of divisions between these groups. Rather, it broke up over regional and constitutional questions, and the abandonment of both forms of conservatism. In fact, the strongest economic and social conservatives both found homes within the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties.

The truth is that strong economic and social conservatives are more often than not the same people, and not without reason. Except at the extremes of libertarianism and theocracy, the philosophical fusion has become deep and wide-spread. Social conservatives more often than not demand the government stop intervening in individual decisions, just as classical liberals often point to the religious roots of their focus on the individual. As the American humourist P.J. O’Rourke observed, “the great religions teach salvation as an individual matter. There are no group discounts in the ten commandments, Christ was not a committee, and Allah does not welcome believers into paradise saying, ‘you weren’t much good yourself, but you were standing near some good people.'”

O’Rourke also summarized the moral and civilizing importance of markets by reminding us that “the rise of private enterprise and trade provided a means of achieving wealth and autonomy other than by killing people with broadswords.” Private enterprise and trade, as Adam Smith pointed out, can turn individual selfishness into useful social outcomes. In fact, the founder of classical liberal economics came to his theories as much by his study of moral philosophy as anything else.


What this means for conservatives today is that we must rediscover the common cause and orient our coalition to the nature of the post-Cold-War world.

The real enemy is no longer socialism. Socialism as a true economic program and motivating faith is dead. Yes, there are still lots of statist economic policies and people dependent on big government. But the modern left-liberal economic philosophy has become corporatism. Corporatism is the use of private ownership and markets for state-directed objectives. Its tools are subsidization, public/private partnerships and state investment funds. It is often bad policy, but it is less clearly different from conventional conservative economics than any genuine socialism.

The real challenge is therefore not economic, but the social agenda of the modern Left. Its system of moral relativism, moral neutrality and moral equivalency is beginning to dominate its intellectual debate and public-policy objectives.

The clearest recent evidence of this phenomenon is seen in international affairs in the emerging post-Cold-War world – most obviously in the response of modern liberals to the war on terrorism. There is no doubt about the technical capacity of our society to fight this war. What is evident is the lack of desire of the modern liberals to fight, and even more, the striking hope on the Left that we actually lose.

You can see this if you pay close attention to the response to the war in Iraq from our own federal Liberals and their cheerleaders in the media and the universities. They argue one day that there are no weapons of mass destruction, yet warn that such weapons might be used. They tell us the war was immoral, then moral but impractical, then practical but unjustified. They argue simultaneously that the war can’t be won, that it is too easy for the coalition to win and that victory cannot be sustained anyway. Most striking was their obvious glumness at the fall of Baghdad. But even previous to that were the dark suggestions on the anniversary of September 11 (hinted at even by our own prime minister) that “we deserved it.”

This is particularly striking given the nature of the enemy here, the bin Ladens and the Husseins, individuals who embody in the extreme everything the Left purports to oppose – fundamentalism, fascistic nationalism, misogyny, bigotry.

Conservatives need to reassess our understanding of the modern Left. It has moved beyond old socialistic morality or even moral relativism to something much darker. It has become a moral nihilism – the rejection of any tradition or convention of morality, a post-Marxism with deep resentments, even hatreds of the norms of free and democratic western civilization.

This descent into nihilism should not be surprising because moral relativism simply cannot be sustained as a guiding philosophy. It leads to silliness such as moral neutrality on the use of marijuana or harder drugs mixed with its random moral crusades on tobacco. It explains the lack of moral censure on personal foibles of all kinds, extenuating even criminal behaviour with moral outrage at bourgeois society, which is then tangentially blamed for deviant behaviour. On the moral standing of the person, it leads to views ranging from radical responsibility-free individualism, to tribalism in the form of group rights.

Conservatives have focused on the inconsistency in all of this. Yet it is actually disturbingly consistent. It is a rebellion against all forms of social norm and moral tradition in every aspect of life. The logical end of this thinking is the actual banning of conservative views, which some legislators and “rights” commissions openly contemplate.

In this environment, serious conservative parties simply cannot shy away from values questions. On a wide range of public-policy questions, including foreign affairs and defence, criminal justice and corrections, family and child care, and healthcare and social services, social values are increasingly the really big issues.

Take taxation, for example. There are real limits to tax-cutting if conservatives cannot dispute anything about how or why a government actually does what it does. If conservatives accept all legislated social liberalism with balanced budgets and corporate grants – as do some in the business community – then there really are no differences between a conservative and a Paul Martin.

There is, of course, much more to be done in economic policy. We do need deeper and broader tax cuts, further reductions in debt, further deregulation and privatization, and especially the elimination of corporate subsidies and industrial-development schemes. In large measure, however, the public arguments for doing so have already been won. Conservatives have to more than modern liberals in a hurry.

The truth of the matter is that the real agenda and the defining issues have shifted from economic issues to social values, so conservatives must do the same.


This is not as difficult as it sounds. It does not require a radical redefinition of conservatism, but rather a shifting of the balance between the economic and social conservative sides that have always been there.

In particular, Canadian conservatives need to rediscover the virtues of Burkean conservatism as a key component of that balance. Rediscovering this agenda, to paraphrase Ted Byfield, means not just worrying about what the state costs, but also worrying about what the state values.

For example, we need to rediscover Burkean or social conservatism because a growing body of evidence points to the damage the welfare state is having on our most important institutions, particularly the family. Conservatives have to give much higher place to confronting threats posed by modern liberals to this building block of our society.

Take, for example, the debate over the rights of parents to discipline their children – the so-called spanking debate. Of course, there are legitimate limits to the use of force by parents – limits outlined in the Criminal Code. Yet the most recent Liberal Throne Speech, as part of its “children’s agenda,” hinted at more government interference in the family. We saw the capacity for this abuse of power in the events that took place in Aylmer, Ont. Children there were seized for no reason other than the state disagreed with the religious views of their parents. No conservative can support this kind of intrusion, and conservatives have an obligation to speak forcefully against such acts.

This same argument applies equally to a range of issues involving the family (all omitted from the Throne Speech), such as banning child pornography, raising the age of sexual consent, providing choice in education and strengthening the institution of marriage. All of these items are key to a conservative agenda.

We also need to rediscover Burkean conservatism because the emerging debates on foreign affairs should be fought on moral grounds. Current challenges in dealing with terrorism and its sponsors, as well as the emerging debate on the goals of the U.S. as the sole superpower, will be well served by conservative insights on preserving historic values and moral insights on right and wrong. As we have seen in recent months, these are debates where modern liberals (with the exception of Tony Blair) have no answers: they are trapped in their framework of moral neutrality, moral relativism and moral equivalence.

But conservatives should have answers. We understand, however imperfectly, the concept of morality, the notion that moral rules form a chain of right and duty, and that politics is a moral affair. We understand that the great geopolitical battles against modern tyrants and threats are battles over values. We can disagree vehemently with the values of our civilization’s opponents, but that does not deny the validity of the cause in their eyes. Without clear values ourselves, our side has no purpose, no meaning, no chance of success.

Conservatives must take the moral stand, with our allies, in favour of the fundamental values of our society, including democracy, free enterprise and individual freedom. This moral stand should not just give us the right to stand with our allies, but the duty to do so and the responsibility to put “hard power” behind our international commitments.


Rebalancing the conservative agenda will require careful political judgment. First, the issues must be chosen carefully. For example, the social conservative issues we choose should not be denominational, but should unite social conservatives of different denominations and even different faiths. It also helps when social conservative concerns overlap those of people with a more libertarian orientation.

Second, we must realize that real gains are inevitably incremental. This, in my experience, is harder for social conservatives than for economic conservatives. The explicitly moral orientation of social conservatives makes it difficult for many to accept the incremental approach. Yet, in democratic politics, any other approach will certainly fail. We should never accept the standard of just being “better than the Liberals” – people who advocate that standard seldom achieve it – but conservatives should be satisfied if the agenda is moving in the right direction, even if slowly.

Third, rebalancing means there will be changes to the composition of the conservative coalition. We may not have all the same people we have had in the past. The new liberal corporatist agenda will appeal to some in the business community. We may lose some old “conservatives,” Red Tories like the David Orchards or the Joe Clarks.

This is not all bad. A more coherent coalition can take strong positions it wouldn’t otherwise be able to take – as the Alliance alone was able to do during the Iraq war. More importantly, a new approach can draw in new people. Many traditional Liberal voters, especially those from key ethnic and immigrant communities, will be attracted to a party with strong traditional views of values and family. This is similar to the phenomenon of the “Reagan Democrats” in the United States, who were so important in the development of that conservative coalition.


To be successful as a conservative party – indeed, to have any success at all – the Canadian Alliance must be driven primarily by policy, not by process. I have written many times that the Reform Party and Canadian Alliance made gains in the past by taking principled conservative stands on the issues of the day. I believe our party has been doing that under my leadership on a range of issues – from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to defence and foreign policy, taxes and spending, childcare and criminal justice, healthcare reform, and even on environmental matters like the Kyoto accord.

The rediscovery of the conservative agenda requires us to maintain the coalition of ideas that is the heritage of enlightenment liberalism and Burkean conservatism. Yet contemporary reality requires us to re-emphasize the Burkean tradition as a key part of our conservative agenda. In other words, while retaining a focus on economic issues, we must give greater place to social values and social conservatism, broadly defined and properly understood.

Eight years ago, I wrote that the Reform Party had to become the principal force in the democratic Right in Canadian politics by adapting contemporary issues to a new conservatism. This remains the essential task of the Canadian Alliance – to unify conservatives in a broad coalition of conservative ideas.

Posted on Christian Coalition International


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The Imperial Bluster of Tom Delay – Dreams and Delusions

by Edward Said
August 20, 2003

During the last days of July, Representative Tom Delay (Republican) of Texas, the House majority leader and described routinely as one of the three or four most powerful men in Washington, delivered himself of his opinions regarding the roadmap and the future of peace in the Middle East. What he had to say was meant as an announcement for a trip he subsequently took to Israel and several Arab countries where, it is reported, he articulated the same message. In no uncertain terms, Delay declared himself opposed to the Bush Administration’s support for the roadmap, especially the provision in it for a Palestinian state. “It would be a terrorist state” he said emphatically, using the word “terrorist” as has become habitual in official American discourse without regard for circumstance, definition, or concrete characteristics. He went on to add that he came by his ideas concerning Israel by virtue of what he described as his convictions as a “Christian Zionist,” a phrase synonymous not only with support for everything Israel does, but also for the Jewish state’s theological right to go on doing what it does regardless whether or not a few million “terrorist” Palestinians get hurt in the process.

The sheer number of people in the southwestern United States who think like Delay is an imposing 60-70 million and, it should be noted, included among them is none other than George W. Bush, who is also an inspired born-again Christian for whom everything in the Bible is meant to be taken literally. Bush is their leader and surely depends on their votes for the 2004 election which, in my opinion, he will not win. And because his presidency is threatened by his ruinous policies at home and abroad, he and his campaign strategists are trying to attract more Christian right-wingers from other parts of the country, the Middle West especially. Altogether then, the views of the Christian Right (allied with the ideas and lobbying power of the rabidly pro-Israeli neo-conservative movement) constitute a formidable force in domestic American politics, which is the domain where, alas, the debate about the Middle East takes place in America. One must always remember that in America, Palestine and Israel are regarded as local, not foreign policy, matters.

Thus, were Delay’s pronouncements simply to have been either the personal opinions of a religious enthusiast or the dreamlike ramblings of an inconsequential visionary, one could dismiss them quickly as nonsense. But in fact, they represent a language of power that is not easily opposed in America, where so many citizens believe themselves to be guided directly by God in what they see and believe, and sometimes do. John Ashcroft, the Attorney General, is reported to begin each working day in his office with a collective prayer meeting. Fine, people want to pray, they are constitutionally allowed total religious liberty. But in Delay’s case, by saying what he has said against an entire race of people, the Palestinians, that they would constitute a whole country of “terrorists,” that is, enemies of humankind in the current Washington definition of the word, he has seriously hampered their progress toward self-determination, and gone some way in imposing further punishment and suffering on them, all on religious grounds. By what right?

Consider the sheer inhumanity and imperialist arrogance of Delay’s position: from a powerful eminence ten thousand miles away, people like him, who are as ignorant about the actual life of Arab Palestinians as the man in the moon, can actually rule against and delay Palestinian freedom, and assure years more of oppression and suffering, just because he thinks they are all terrorists and because his own Christian Zionism–where neither proof nor reason counts for very much–tells him so. So, in addition to the Israeli lobby here, to say nothing of the Israeli government there, Palestinian men, women and children have to endure more obstacles and more roadblocks placed in their way in the US Congress. Just like that.

What also struck me about the Delay comments wasn’t only their irresponsibility and their easy, uncivilized (a word very much in use concerning the war against terrorism) dismissal of thousands of people who have done him no wrong whatever, but also the unreality, the delusional unreality his statements share with so much of official Washington so far as discussions of (and policy toward) the Middle East, the Arabs and Islam are concerned. This has reached new levels of intense, and even inane abstraction in the period since the events of September 11. Hyperbole, the technique of finding more and more excessive statements to describe and over-describe a situation, has ruled the public realm, beginning of course with Bush himself, whose metaphysical statements about good and evil, the axis of evil, the light of the almighty and his endless, dare I call them sickening effusions about the evils of terrorism, have taken language about human history and society to new, dysfunctional levels of pure, ungrounded polemic. All of this laced with solemn sermons and declarations to the rest of the world to be pragmatic, to avoid extremism, to be civilized and rational, even as US policy makers with untrammeled executive power can legislate the change of regime here, an invasion there, a “re-construction” of a country there, all from within the confines of their plush air-conditioned Washington offices. Is this a way of setting standards for civilized discussion and advancing democratic values, including the very idea of democracy itself?

One of the basic themes of all Orientalist discourse since the mid-19th century is that the Arabic language and the Arabs are afflicted with both a mentality and a language that has no use for reality. Many Arabs have come to believe this racist drivel, as if whole national languages like Arabic, Chinese, or English directly represent the minds of their users. This notion is part of the same ideological arsenal used in the 19th century to justify colonial oppression: “Negroes” can’t speak properly therefore, according to Thomas Carlyle, they must remain enslaved; “the Chinese” language is complicated and therefore, according to Ernest Renan, the Chinese man or woman is devious and should be kept down; and so on and so forth. No one takes such ideas seriously today, except for when Arabs, Arabic, and Arabists are concerned.

In a paper he wrote a few years ago, Francis Fukuyama, the right wing pontificator and philosopher who was briefly celebrated for his preposterous “end of history” idea, said that the State Department was well rid of its Arabists and Arabic speakers because by learning that language they also learned the “delusions” of the Arabs. Today, every village philosopher in the media, including pundits like Thomas Friedman, chatters on in the same vein, adding in their scientific descriptions of the Arabs that one of the many delusions of Arabic is the commonly held “myth” that the Arabs have of themselves as a people. According to such authorities as Friedman and Fouad Ajami, the Arabs are simply a loose collection of vagrants, tribes with flags, masquerading as a culture and a people. One might point out that that itself is a hallucinatory Orientalist delusion, which has the same status as the Zionist belief that Palestine was empty, and that the Palestinians were not there and certainly don’t count as a people. One scarcely needs to argue against the validity of such assumptions, so obviously do they derive from fear and ignorance.

But that is not all. Arabs are always being berated for their inability to deal with reality, to prefer rhetoric to facts, to wallow in self-pity and self-aggrandizing rather than in sober recitals of the truth. The new fashion is to refer to the UNDP Report of last year as an “objective” account of Arab self-indictment. Never mind that the Report, as I have pointed out, is a shallow and insufficiently reflective social science graduate student paper designed to prove that Arabs can tell the truth about themselves, and it is pretty far below the level of decades of Arab critical writing from the time of Ibn Khaldun to the present. All that is pushed aside, as is the imperial context which the UNDP authors blithely ignore, the better perhaps to prove that their thinking is in line with American pragmatism.

Other experts often say that, as a language, Arabic is imprecise and incapable of expressing anything with any real accuracy. In my opinions, such observations are so ideologically mischievous as not to require argument. But I think we can get an idea of what drives such opinions forward by looking for an instructive contrast at one of the great successes of American pragmatism and how it shows how our present leaders and authorities deal with reality in sober and realistic terms. I hope the irony of what I am discussing will quickly be evident. The example I have in mind is American planning for post-war Iraq. There is a chilling account of this in the August 4 issue of the Financial Times in which we are informed that Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz, unelected officials who are among the most powerful of the hawkish neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration with exceptionally close ties to Israel’s Likud Party, ran a group of experts in the Pentagon “who all along felt that this [the war and its aftermath] was not just going to be a cakewalk [a slang term for something so easy to do that little effort would be needed], it [the whole thing] was going to be 60-90 days, a flip-over and hand-off to Chalabi and the Iraqi National Council. The Department of Defense could then wash its hands of the whole affair and depart quickly, smoothly, and swiftly. And there would be a democratic Iraq that was amenable to our wishes and desires left in its wake. And that’s all there was to it.”

We now know, of course, that the war was indeed fought on these premises and Iraq militarily occupied on just those totally far-fetched imperialist assumptions. Chalabi’s record as informant and banker is, after all, not of the best. And now, no one needs to be reminded of what has happened in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The terrible shambles, from the looting and pillaging of libraries and museums (which is absolutely the responsibility of the US military as occupying power), the total breakdown of the infra-structure, the hostility of Iraqis–who are not after all a homogenous single group–to Anglo-American forces, the insecurity and shortages of daily life in Iraq, and above all, the extraordinary human–I emphasize the word “human”–incompetence of Garner, Bremer and all their minions and soldiers, in adequately addressing the problems of post-war Iraq, all this testifies to the kind of ruinous sham pragmatism and realism of American thinking which is supposed to be in sharp contrast to that of lesser, pseudo- peoples like the Arabs who are full of delusions and a faulty language to boot. The truth of the matter is that reality is neither at the individual’s command (no matter how powerful) nor does it necessarily adhere more closely to some peoples and mentalities than to others. The human condition is made up of experience and interpretation, and those can never be completely dominated by power: they are also the common domain of human beings in history. The terrible mistakes made by Wolfowitz and Leith came down to their arrogant substitution of abstract and finally ignorant language for a far more complex and recalcitrant reality. The appalling results are still before us.

So let us not accept any longer the ideological demagoguery that leaves language and reality as the sole property of American power, or of so-called Western perspectives. The core of the matter is of course imperialism, that (in the end banal) self-assumed mission to rid the world of evil figures like Saddam in the name of justice and progress. Revisionist justifications of the invasion of Iraq and the American war on terrorism that have become one of the least welcome imports from an earlier failed empire, Britain, and have coarsened discourse and distorted fact and history with alarming fluency, is proclaimed by expatriate British journalists in America who don’t have the honesty to say straight out, yes, we are superior and reserve the right to teach the natives a lesson anywhere in the world where we perceive them to be nasty and backward. And why do we have that right? Because those wooly-haired natives whom we know from having ruled our empire for 500 years and now want America to follow, have failed: they fail to understand our superior civilization, they are addicted to superstition and fanaticism, they are unregenerate tyrants who deserve punishment, and we, by god, are the ones to do the job, in the name of progress and civilization. If some of these fickle journalistic acrobats (who have served so many masters that they don’t have any moral bearings at all) can also manage to quote Marx and German scholars–despite their avowed anti-Marxism and their rank ignorance of any languages or scholarship not English–in their favor, then how much cleverer they seem. It’s just racism at bottom though, no matter how dressed up it is.

The problem is actually a deeper and more interesting one than the polemicists and publicists for American power have imagined. All over the world people are all experiencing the quandary of a revolution in thought and vocabulary in which American neo-liberalism and “pragmatism” are made on the one hand by American policy-makers to stand for a universal norm, whereas in fact–as we have seen in the Iraq example I cited above–there are all sorts of slippages and double standards in the use of words like “realism,” “pragmatism,” and other words like “secular” and “democracy” and “pragmatism” that need complete re-thinking and re-evaluation. Reality is too complex and multifarious to lend itself to jejune formulae like “a democratic Iraq amenable to us would result.” Such reasoning cannot stand the test of reality. Meanings are not imposed from one culture on to another, any more than one language and one culture alone possesses the secret of how to get things done efficiently.

As Arabs, I would submit, and as Americans we have too long allowed a few much-trumpeted slogans about “us” and “our” way to do the work of discussion, argument, and exchange. One of the major failures of most Arab and Western intellectuals today is that they have accepted without debate or rigorous scrutiny terms like secularism and democracy, as if everyone knew what those words meant. America today has the largest prison population of any country on earth; it also has the largest number of executions than any country in the world. To be elected President, you need not win the popular vote, but you must spend over 200 million dollars. How do these things pass the test of “liberal democracy?”

So rather than have the terms of debate organized without skepticism around a few sloppy terms like “democracy” and “liberalism” or around unexamined conceptions of “terrorism”, “backwardness,” and “extremism,” we should be pressing for a more exacting, a more demanding kind of discussion in which terms are defined from numerous viewpoints and are always placed in concrete historical circumstances. The great danger is that American “magical” thinking à la Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Bush is being passed off as the supreme standard for all peoples and languages to follow. In my opinion, and if Iraq is a salient example, then we must not allow that simply to occur without strenuous debate and probing analysis, and we mustn’t be cowed into believing that Washington’s power is so irresistibly awesome. And so far as the Middle East is concerned, the discussion must include Arabs and Muslims and Israelis and Jews as equal participants. I urge everyone to join in and not leave the field of values, definitions, and cultures uncontested. They are certainly not the property of a few Washington officials, any more than they are the responsibility of a few Middle Eastern rulers. There is a common field of human undertaking being created and recreated, and no amount of imperial bluster can ever conceal or negate that fact.

EDWARD SAID is a professor at Columbia University. He is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s forthcoming book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism (AK Press).

© Edward W. Said, 2003.

This article may be reproduced only with the permission of the author.

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