The state of Israel, which trumpets itself as some kind of democratic beacon in the Middle East despite its shameful treatment of the Palestinians within its occupied territories, must indeed be grateful to a Prime Minister who, even as I write this, has made it easier for Israel to bomb Iran by cutting off diplomatic ties with the theocracy, something that hardly seems wise since we are always told that engagement is better than isolation.
How else can one explain this award to a man who has shown such deep and abiding contempt for democracy in his own country, behaviour that grossly violates the principles of the foundation which, according to its website “believes that freedom, democracy and human rights are the fundamental values that give nations their best hope for peace, security and shared prosperity.”
In today's Star, Bob Hepburn offers compelling reasons that all Canadians should be outraged by this 'honour' being bestowed on our rogue head of government.
Among the reasons:
In April, his government killed the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy), which for 24 years had promoted democracy and monitored human rights around the world.
In 2010, Harper slashed funding for the Canadian Human Rights Commission so deeply that the agency had to close its offices in Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax.
In 2009, the prime minister approved cutting funds to Kairos, an organization of church groups that advocated for human rights, after it criticized Israel for bombing a Gaza health unit. In 2006, Harper’s government severely chopped funding to Status of Women Canada, resulting in the closure of 12 of the agency’s 16 regional offices. Also in 2006, the Conservatives shut down the Court Challenges Program, which had worked on behalf of the rights and equality of women, immigrants and gays and lesbians by helping to fund court challenges to discriminatory laws.
At the same time, Harper orchestrated two controversial prorogations of Parliament in less than a year, became the first prime minister ever to be found guilty of contempt of Parliament, and approved the distribution of a handbook on how Tories can disrupt committee hearings, such as by barring witnesses with potentially damaging testimony.
In addition, Harper and his cabinet have flagrantly ignored freedom of speech and information tenets by muzzling senior bureaucrats, withholding and even altering documents, launching personal attacks on whistleblowers and lying to voters.
Also, there’s the anti-democratic robocall affair in the 2011 federal election, with allegations of voter suppression by the Conservatives. The Federal Court of Canada will start hearings into the allegations on Dec. 10.
All of us should do whatever we can to voice our outrage over this insult to the values and traditions Stephen Harper shows such egregious contempt for.