Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tory MP Peter Kent Needs a Haitian Vacation

[as originally posted 01/08/09 on my formerly free thinking blog ]

Rookie Tory MP and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs - and former TV newsman - Peter Kent has questioned
the annual winter getaway choice of 600,000 plus Canadians this week by scolding those who flock to Cuba to escape the ball-busting cold as being "too willing to accept a candy coated vision" of life (in "an artificial bubble") on the island. Cuba "is still a dictatorship, any way you package it," Kent informed us. Huh?

Thanks for the metaphors Peter, but we two arseholes don`t believe that most Cuban-bound Canucks care one Cuban peso for what you think. Nor, presumably, do they care that you are wasting time demonizing the aging Castro regime as you flounder about looking for a way to promote Harpo's weak Latin America policy.

Not "an expert on the region", Kent's words should be appreciated for what they are: covering fertilizer for our pathetic approach to the region. Tasked with pushing Canada's "agenda" in the region, Kent is now putting all his experience from his years as a talking-head to good use - he's talking a lot. But words are cheap. And cheap words are nothing, if not a Tory mainstay, when it comes to Latin American policy.
Kent wants us to believe that the Western Hemisphere is "a top international priority for the Conservative government" and that Harpo & co. have a plan with "two-prongs" to deal it:

There's the aggressive economic agenda to forge closer ties with stable partners such as Brazil and Chile, while pushing free trade deals with Colombia and Peru. Underneath it all is a value-based policy that pushes democracy and human rights.

Unless, of course, you are Cuba.

If you are Cuba, you will note Canada has "been noticeably silent about" about you since Harpo came to power three years ago. Of course, this was because he was trying to curry favour with the Bush mal-administration when it took a page out of the Twilight Zone era of US policy and tightened the economic blockade around Cuba. When Bush moved to limit "travel to the island by Cuban Americans" and the amount of money they could send, Harpo (like a ventriloquism doll without a hand up its ass) stayed mute. He did not call on Bush to reconsider; he did not point out the hardship the restrictive US policy was causing; he made no plea for a "humanitarian" reconsideration of the effects the measures were going to have on US-Cuban kinship relations. No, he did none of that.

He did nothing.

As a Cuban scholar said, the business opportunities for Canada on the island were, for a time, paying dividends. Our opposition to the US embargo gave us credibility as honest brokers and our business was welcomed. But when Harpo & co. began "following US guidelines much more closely" than had Paul Martin, the Canadian-Cuban relationship began to "deteriorate." Canadian investors grew wary and the result is that Cuba’s economic relationship with Venezuela "has grown steadily stronger" in the interim, much more than it might have otherwise had we acted differently.

Now that Obama is poised to re-assess American-Cuban policy, what can we expect from our intrepid PM? Apparently, the tea-leaf reading Kent believes Obama "is going to...bring striking change to Cuba and its place in the hemisphere" and that Canada has a role to play in "engaging and encouraging" Cubans who have a "hunger for democracy and democratic change."

Well, if all that's the case Mr. Kent, why bother with the ridiculous "reminder" that Cuba is still a dictatorship? Is it not time for you, Harpo & co., and the Colombian-free-trade-cult over at Foreign Affairs to stop this kind of juvenile grandstanding? Better you should be making efforts to re-engage Cuban authorities now on both the political and trade fronts before Obama lifts the embargo. Is this too much to ask? Do we want to lose out on these opportunities, or, will we soon find ourselves directed to Haiti for our winter getaway because that is a place our government "supports?"

In fact, we think Mr. Kent, while he is reminding us of how the Western Hemisphere is a top priority, should visit Haiti - where we allocate more foreign aid than anywhere else but Afghanistan. Let him have a look around at our great "successes" there: disease, dislocation, and death. THEN come tell us what we should be thinking when we choose to escape yet another frosty parliamentary session dominated by you damn Tories and your stone cold lies.

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