There’s not enough maple syrup in the world…

Elizabeth May

It was reported on CBC this morning that in a last ditch effort to win over votes for a seat on the U.N. Security Council, Canadian diplomats were giving out maple-leaf shaped bottles of maple syrup. 

Maybe our government’s grasp of the concerns of the world’s nations is a bit lacking in substance.  Maybe it would have won some votes if the Harper government had sent any member of federal cabinet to the emergency meeting on the food crisis in Rome in June 2008.  Instead, we let our Ambassador to Italy sit there without instructions, speaking volumes about Canada’s concern for the world’s poor and hungry.

Maybe it would have helped if we answered the call for peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  We were once the world’s number 1 contributor to peace-keeping.  Now we are 56th.  From over 3,000 soldiers deployed in the past to 2009’s compliment – 57.

Maybe it would have helped if we had lived up to our commitments to fight poverty in Africa.  Or maybe it would have worked better than maple syrup if Prime Minister Harper had not ignored the special meeting on climate at the General Assembly, leaving for an event at Tim Horton’s instead of staying to deliver a speech. 

I remember once, a long time ago, when I was at Sierra Club, speaking to a Conservative MP when Stephen Harper was Leader of the Opposition.  I won’t use his or her name.  I wouldn’t want her (or him) to feel the PM’s wrath. 

I was pushing for any kind of commitment that, in power, the Conservatives would reduce Greenhouse gases.  The answer stayed with me.  Regardless of how achievable Kyoto would be, the MP saw no chance of the Conservatives being able to support action, because Stephen Harper would “always see Kyoto as one of those U.N. things.”

So, no matter how much we give out last minute bottles of maple syrup, and no matter how sincere the pitch for membership from the PM to the General Assembly seemed two months ago, actions speak louder than words.  The actions of the Harper government led to this outcome  --  not their words, nor the words of Michael Ignatieff in saying what everyone knew, that our reputation in the world was tarnished after four and a half years of Harper government policies. 

You reap what you sow.  Let us hope that this is the nadir in Canada’s world reputation.  Let us commit to be the country we once were, with a Prime Minister and a House of Commons that understands what it takes to be a constructive member of the family of nations.