When Harper plays host

Sommet de Montebello - 20 et 21 août 2007

As summits go, the Three Amigos meeting in Montebello is likely to be a snoozer. It is hard to imagine Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderón sorting out the global stock meltdown, Mideast peace, Arctic sovereignty, drug cartels, China's shoddy exports and climate change when they get together Monday and Tuesday.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership compadres, all conservatives, may swap thoughts on these hot issues, but any deals they cut will focus on technical topics: cross-border co-operation on health issues such as avian flu, product labelling, labour mobility and the like.
And the summiteers will be carefully insulated from critics such as Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, who are pressing – with good reason – for more transparency when bureaucrats and business leaders hold clubby meetings under the SPP to step up continental security in the aftermath of 9/11, and to press economic integration.
Yet Harper as summit host can still leverage his brief bilateral session with Bush on Monday to flag a few 9/11-related issues that roil Canadians, before Bush's dwindling political capital runs out.
First and foremost, Harper should invite Bush to start strong-arming our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies to signal readiness to step in and take over from Canadian combat troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when our mission ends in February 2009. We have been carrying a heavy load and taking disproportionate casualties.
As a matter of urgency, Harper should also reverse Ottawa's policy of neglect toward Omar Khadr and press Bush to release him. The young Canadian is the only Westerner still held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facing a trial that would not meet Canadian, or American, standards of justice. That is a disgrace.
Harper should remind Bush that requiring passports at the border is burdensome and that secure drivers' licences should suffice.
And he should urge Bush to instruct U.S. officials that Maher Arar be allowed into the U.S. Arar is the Canadian who was wrongly detained in the U.S. as a terror suspect, then deported to Syria where he was tortured. Cleared in Canada, he is still denied entry to the U.S.
Bush may be in the twilight of his presidency, but Harper still hopes to connect with Canadians and to win a majority. He should be prepared to speak up for Canada's interests with his amigos.

Laissez un commentaire

Aucun commentaire trouvé