Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Canadian Image in the World

Linda McQuaig has an excellent opinion piece in The Toronto Star. Here are the key bits:

After its humiliating rejection at the UN last week, the Harper government wasted no time in signalling it didn’t plan to pay the slightest attention to the judgment of the world’s nations.


Like a kid who can’t get along with the other kids in the sandbox, our prime minister promptly implied he never wanted to play with them anyway, that he wasn’t interested in winning “based on popularity.” Meanwhile, Conservative commentators suggested Canada’s rejection by the world’s nations amounted to a “moral victory.”


But this attempt to repackage us as a warrior nation has always been a top-down effort, orchestrated by Conservatives and our military establishment, not a grassroots yearning among Canadians for a more muscular role in the world. Indeed, exactly the opposite has been the case.

In polling done last year for the Department of National Defence, Ipsos Reid found Canadians not only strongly attached to peacekeeping, but becoming increasingly so.

Based on in-depth interviews with focus groups, the March 2009 survey found Canadians to be keenly supportive of Canada’s role as peacekeepers and deliverers of humanitarian assistance, but having growing reservations about our soldiers engaging in actual warfare. The survey found that fully 50 per cent of Canadians — up from 46 per cent the year before — supported a “peacekeeping only” role for Canada.

Ipsos Reid concludes that while Canadians sense a shift is underway, they “seem to be experiencing nostalgia” for Canada’s traditional role.

The shift away from peacekeeping is part of the Harper government’s overall coolness toward the UN.


What the world liked was the Canada that helped find collective solutions, that promoted peace and respected — even advanced — international law.

It also reminds us that if we want to continue to feel welcome and appreciated as we travel the world, we might consider getting some Portuguese flags for our luggage.
Go read the whole article.

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