02/03/2009

Canada's Foreign Policy Skewed. Cannon drops the Ball


The conference for the reconstruction of Gaza began today hosted by Egypt. Leaders from Europe and North America are meeting to determine what help they can contribute to the rebuilding of Gaza after the destruction wrought upon it by Israel in their recent, brief attack.

About 1,300 Palestinians, of whom 412 were children, were killed and thousands of homes, schools, medical facilities and businesses were destroyed in December and January as Israel tried to bring an end to cross-border rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. It is estimated that Gaza needs $2.8 billion for reconstruction. Saudi Arabia has already agreed to contribute $1 billion and the USA has offered another $900 million.

One of the hurdles is still the Israeli blockade which prevents supplies from, entering Gaza. All but essential supplies are still stopped from entering Gaza at the crossing points, controlled by Israel. Building and raw materials deemed by Israel to be useful to militants as well as civilians have been banned.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said now was the "time to think freshly, to lead boldly". The UN Secretary General is optimistic if he expects that kind of thinking from Canada.

Although Canada is at conference but one has to wonder how serious the Harper Government is when it comes to helping the people in Gaza. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon is there but he claims to be their only to "take stock" and to listen so he can report back to his colleagues and give them a sense of what has taken place.

In an effort to get a real sense of what Gaza needs Cannon visited Israel in advance of the conference. He met with Israeli politicians to reconnect with Israel and to emphasize the "great and important relationship that Canada has with Israel."

Out of step with most western leaders what he did not do was visit Gaza to see the destruction, first hand. I am sure Cannon thinks the briefing he got is Israel is all he needs.

Harper is once again out of step with the majority of Canadians in this issue. His government's unabashed support of Israel during the brief war was an embarrassment to most Canadians who want to our government to take an active but unbiased role in seeking a peaceful solution in the region.

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