My website. Where rejected op-eds go to die. So without further introduction, for your weekend reading pleasures;
February 2nd emergency debate is embarrassing in the wake of a free Egypt
For 18 days the people of Egypt protested against a 30 year old dictatorship. They courageously gathered in Tahir square in Cairo, and in other centres, to protest systemic corruption and oppression. The people of Egypt wanted what we take for granted; freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and a government whose fate is decided by it's people.
Those 18 days, nearly unthinkable to Egyptians, was a bumbling display of meaningless rhetoric from Western governments, including Canada. For countries that supposedly represent freedom and democracy, no leader was willing to publicly state that President Hosni Mubarak should step down. For the Obama Administration never explicitly stating Mubarak should step down is not surprising, but Canada most certainly could have stood apart.
Never before has the Western non-committal support of democracy and human rights in autocratic states been so evident. A grand pool of weasel words and phrases was drawn from by leaders and politicians to state various country's stance on Egypt, like "we urge" and "meaningful reform" and my favourite, "ensure the legitimate needs of the Egyptian people are met."
Carefully crafted statements that meant nothing more than "we support human rights, but we are not willing to back it up by calling for someone's resignation." As such, a similar message was the response from the Canadian government.
As Canadians who live with truly free elections, liberties, human rights, and who do not live in fear of our police or government, we cannot imagine what life is like for people in countries like Egypt. And as Canadians, the least we could have done was denounce the Mubarak regime and lend full unanimous support to Egyptians and their plight.
On February 2nd, Liberal MP Bob Rae requested an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the situation in Egypt. Now that Mubarak has been deposed, the debate is an embarrassment for almost all federal politicians in this country.
This is a situation where political correctness and the fear of straying from it prevented all but a select few opposition MPs from outright stating Mubarak’s regime was illegitimate. Only NDP MP Paul Dewar and BQ MP Jean Doiron were able to articulate what Canada stands for, and only those 2 MPs were able to raise the question in voters minds why the Harper Government did not do so.
The statement from Prime Minister Harper following Mubarak's resignation was even more embarrassing: "Canada respects President Mubarak's decision to step down..."
If we are a country that represents freedoms of all kinds, if we are a country which supposedly sets examples for developing countries, the refusal to call for Mubarak to step down on February 2nd and Canada instead "respecting" a dictator incapable of respecting even his own people, is unacceptable.