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Blame Canada

So maybe you’ve heard: Canada has lost its bid for a seat on the United Nations security council for the first time in 60 years.

So maybe you’ve heard: Canada has lost its bid for a seat on the United Nations security council for the first time in 60 years.
Outrage, shock and confusion poured out of the the Conservative Party spin machine. According to Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, “Not being able to speak with one voice as a country had a negative impact on Canada’s bid.” Or, translated to English: it’s Michael Ignatieff’s fault.
And on the other side of the aisle, the opposition whines about how Harper’s neglect of the UN is to blame.
Has nobody considered that Canada just sucks?
Let the vague sense of nausea pass: that’s just the lingering sense of patriotism.
Truth be told, we’re a country with decreasing purchase on the international stage. What’s more is that we were never really that great.
Sure, three-quarters of the world has a favourable opinion of Canada (down 11 points from last year according to the BBC), but it’s quite obvious after a little research: we’re kind of jerks.
We’ve been really flaunting it recently, too. Take the Copenhagen conference that took place last year where we were feted as a ‘colossal fossil’ for being the world’s most regressive country on climate change policy. In the barbed ‘acceptance’ speech, Ben Winkler of Avaaz.org explained that Canada not only went into the conference with a weak plan, but also vigorously defended it, contributing to the eventual deadlock amongst the delegates.
There’s grittier stuff, too. Take, for example, what we allow our mining companies to get away with in South America and Africa. In the Congo, Canadian companies were implicated in illegally obtaining resources from the country, which has been locked in a bitter civil war over a decade. Those indigenous people living next to the mines won’t be awarding any popularity points soon, assuming they survive the high levels of lead and arsenic in their bloodstream. I’m sure they’re not exactly in love with the paramilitary goon squads on these companies’ payrolls, either.
And hey, we’re still locked in an unpopular, unnecessary and wildly expensive (both in dollars and human lives) war in Afghanistan. Documents just released on WikiLeaks tell the story of two innocent Afghan teenagers, 14 and 16, who were shot by Canadian troops while driving their motorbike. We’ve lost 152 of our own citizens too. Is that what we signed up for? A decade is too long to be fighting America’s war.
Giving Canada some constructive criticism is taboo in this country. We like to define ourselves as unique from the United States, so we present ourselves off with an air of superiority. Are we really that much better, though? From having our police officers club unarmed protesters in the streets of Toronto to deporting the homeless from Vancouver before the Olympic games—are we a country or some cheesy stock-character villain?
Those things we take such pride in are also just a fleeting memory. Peacekeeping? We have 126 troops in missions overseas, which puts us at 55 out of 108 peacekeeping countries. Foreign aid? As of last year, the government is only targeting 20 countries that it feels need it the most (yet somehow only seven African countries made it onto that list). Furthermore, we’re well behind the aid targets we set for ourselves just a decade ago.
Maybe we’re great people, but we tend to elect some pretty awful governments. Remember Trudeau? (Well, no, of course you don’t.) He’s the one who posted soldiers on street corners all over the country because of a few trigger-happy separatists in downtown Montreal. Then there’s the Vietnam War, which ranks up there with Iraq in ‘wars-we’re-proud-we-didn’t-fight’, which was made possible largely by Canada’s export of $2.5 billion worth of war supplies, including weapons and napalm.
The reality of our country doesn’t match our daydreams. Maybe it would someday, if we stood up and took notice. It would be worth noticing, however, that since Confederation we’ve taken turns electing governments that seem to have, essentially, the same policies.

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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