Monday, November 25, 2013

Remember when Canada supported nuclear disarmament?

The reaction of the Harper government to the nuclear deal with Iran is astounding.

A government that was under suspicion of developing nuclear weapons has agreed not to do so and it has also agreed to greater oversight than what is already required as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Further the deal was made with the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, which is a great deal of diplomatic firepower. 

The Canadian government should be happy about this agreement.  Instead they pretty much came about against it.  Why?  Because they apparently do not trust Iran to live up to it.  That for them is a reason not to support with the agreement.

You know the same concerns were voiced by many about the different SALT agreements in the 1970s and '80s.  The Soviets could not be trusted they said but wiser heads prevailed and agreements to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world were agreed to, enacted and implemented.  The confidence building measures between the two superpowers worked and they probably contributed to the rise of Mr. Gorbachev to the leadership of the Soviet Union instead of someone more reactionary.  In short, those two agreements contributed to the world stepping away from the nuclear brink. 

Of course the agreement with Iran is only a first step and it will probably not lead to a greater thaw in and of itself but it could be a step towards that.  As well, Iran will need to be watched to make certain it lives up to its side of the agreement but you only need to look at their negotiating partners to see that they will have a great deal of difficulty hiding any move to cheat.  Most of those powers are not new at negotiated and enforcing nuclear deals.

This agreement should be greeted with cautious optimism from any country that strives for peace, which should include Canada, as a middle power watching its influence in the world steadily drain away.  Instead we get the stupidity that was demonstrated by Mr. Baird and by extension Mr. Harper on the weekend.


I know it is great fun to talk about them but tonight's by-elections will not decide any great political questions in this country.

When it is all over Stephen Harper will still be leading a majority Conservative government.  Mr. Mulclair will still be the Leader of the Opposition and the Liberals will still be the Third Party.

All will have more or less the same seat count as right now.

That of course will not stop commentators, professional or otherwise, from spinning them like a tornado but that is all it will be. 

2015 will be the real deal and we will see what happens then.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Admired no, be impressed with, absolutely

So the Conservatives and their supporters in the media are making a little political hay from a statement Mr. Trudeau made a few days ago about China.  His remarks seemed innocuous enough but you would think by the reaction from the Conservatives that Mr. Trudeau suggested Canada follow the Chinese model.

Of course that is BS and all the reaction does is demonstrate that the Conservatives' internal polling is telling them what the public polls have been saying for months.  Mr. Trudeau is a real threat to win the next election.

Buried by all of the Conservative hyper-ventilating is a real assessment of the country of China.

Let's remember that 20 years ago China was a poor country.  The size of its economy was not even in the top ten.  Now it is the second largest economy in the world and it is on a trajectory to overtake the largest economy by the end of this decade.

To put that in perspective, the Communist dictatorship in China is beating the entire capitalist democratic world at their own game.

That is a remarkable achievement.

No one can admire a government that slaughtered 100s or even 1000s of its citizens for the temerity of demanding democratic reforms but objectively speaking one can be impressed with how they have guided one of the fastest economic expansions in history and how that expansion shows little sign of abating any time soon.

As well, with economic power comes political power so Canada and other democratic countries better begin to come to grips with some of the implications of that.  In all likelihood the Chinese government will frown upon any western government that makes any comments they do not like and with political power will come the ability to demonstrate that dislike in tangible ways against the offending government.  Very soon, gone will be the days that Canada or any other western government will be able to lecture the Chinese government on its human rights record without suffering a heavy price for it, one that would probably have a significant economic impact in the offending country.

Mr. Trudeau's statement was questionable but it could have elicited a reaction from his opponents that could have advanced the understanding of the new dynamic that is shaping up in the international community.  Imagine, if the Conservatives would have made nuanced statements that caused debate on how to handle that and informed Canadians of the pending new reality.  It would have been in the public interest.

Instead they went for the cheap "gotcha" moment and that moment was lost.  Not that I was expecting anything different.