“Tear down the walls!” “No calculations!” — John Baird, speaking the U.N.
Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, in lieu of Prime Minister Harper, read a prepared text to a mainly empty U.N. General Assembly hall during the recent gathering of world leaders. His speech was roughly divided in half, the first part criticizing the U.N., the second half performing for its U.S./Israel overlords by criticizing Syria and Iran and actions related to them.
The latter, Iran and Syria, I have dealt with before, and his criticisms are simply reflections of Israeli/U.S. rhetoric on the two nations. There are many double standards in those arguments, many that can reflect back on the U.S. and Israel, as well as their allied Arab states (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the GCC states among others) that are supporting the U.S. and Israel in their verbal and physical threats against the two countries. What is new in this speech is the criticism of the U.N. as navel gazing and not being successful in its actions.
Don’t do as we do, do as we say….
Baird started speaking in French, asking for a moment of silence for the diplomats who have lost their lives in service over that past year. Without waiting a moment, he then turned to English—a language he reads more proficiently than French—to call out the U.N.
He tried a nautical analogy at first. By seeing Canada as a Maritime nation, with seas on three sides, he described how a sailor set sail with the North Star as a clear guiding light. This metaphor then becomes how Canada sets “fixed principles and chart[s] a course for immutable goals.” Those principles—well-being, prosperity, dignity, and security—he indicated are found in the U.N. Charter. Except that prosperity and security are not found in the Charter, although wellbeing and dignity are, along with equal rights for women, justice and respect for international law, and fundamental faith in human rights. Obviously true security comes from the others, not as is commonly conflated today from an ever increasingly militarized state (more below).
Baird then presents the case that we “Measure results by measuring results” not by “best efforts…good intentions…or calculating inputs.” A statement of meaningless obviousness, except that at home in Canada, everything comes down to the almighty dollar, the Conservative government’s favorite way of measuring results by “calculating inputs.” Our economy is measured by “calculating inputs,” our health services and education are all “calculated inputs.” The question then is obvious, how can something be “measured” without a “calculated input?”
Allow me a moment to return to the “maritime nation” analogy and some calculated inputs. Input one: the Atlantic coast in September received its highest level of rainfall for the month ever. Input two: the Arctic coast witnessed the lowest ever recorded loss of summer ice, at the fastest rate ever. Input three: the Pacific coast, at least the southern part near Vancouver/Victoria, received the least rain ever for the August-September period.
Three record inputs in one season. Perhaps that is why the Canadian government does not like “calculated inputs” because they speak the truth to their dismal environmental record. The current government’s agenda works against the environment, against global warming, against the indigenous cultures as exemplified by the tar sands developments in Alberta. The giga-tonnes of carbon that the tar sands are spewing into the atmosphere, the tonnes of chemical pollutants that accompany them or work their way through the water system, the huge amount of fracking required—and its demands on water and other poisonous chemicals—are all “inputs” this government does not want to be “calculated.” The government only wants to “measure results”—the billions of dollars of corporate profits from which they extract very little in royalties.
Another case of unwanted inputs, those nasty calculations that get in the way of conservative success, is the dollar amounts concerning the Conservative’s attempt to buy the U.S. F-35 fighter jet:
[I]n April 2012, Canada’s Auditor General, Michael Ferguson, blasted the government’s cost estimates and the way the Department of National Defence chose the F-35 without a competition.
“The department did not provide parliament with full cost information, or fully inform decision makers about the risks of this program,” Ferguson said during a news conference to announce his report.
In June 2012, the Government Accountability Office, the U.S Government agency that investigates how taxpayer dollars are spent, reported:
The cost of building just one F-35 had doubled from $81 million to $161 million.
Full production would be delayed by years.
Testing was behind schedule.
That’s a lot of “calculated inputs” that the current Conservative government wishes they could ignore and simply “measure results,” that is to buy the damned plane regardless of costs.
I’ll say it again…and again…and again…(but won’t do it)
The speech continued with a rambling section on how the U.N. kept looking at itself and not acting enough on the world stage. In repetitious tautological reiterations of the same idea, Baird says the U.N. “must spend less time looking at itself, and more time focussed on the problems that demand its attention.” Moments later, the U.N. should not participate in “inward looking exercises.” The U.N. should measure its achievements “not how [it] arranges its affairs.” It spends “too much time on itself.”
Then comes the big line, the line that actually rings true for Canada’s increasing loss of democracy: “The preoccupation with procedure and process must yield to substance and results.”
Yes, Baird for once reveals the truth about Canadian democracy as run by the Conservatives! Forget procedure and due process, we’re going to do what we want to do regardless. Which is why the Conservatives twice cancelled parliament (once to avoid a non-confidence vote, and the second time to avoid questions on Canada’s complicity with torture in Afghanistan) and once was found in contempt of Parliament, the latter partly as a result of the F-35 debacle as noted above—obviously “calculated inputs” can be harmful for democratic health.
This is a government that manipulated the voting process (in Canada called the “robocalling scandal”), and that fired many of its scientists and requires the others—and all other assistants—to vet questions received and answers given through a media coordinator for the government, those scientific “calculated inputs” being a bit too much for the government to comprehend, as noted above with climate change. This is the government that recently wrapped up numerous changes in many laws into one large omnibus bill pretending to be the budget, and then limited debate on all the issues created.
At least in this instance, there are no double standards, Baird is simply asking the U.N. to do as Canada’s Conservatives have done recently and avoid those nasty “procedures and processes” that are involved with democracy.
Somewhat confused about his own religion, Baird invoked the Creator, saying “Those of us who recognize a Creator….” continuing on saying that we should “use the Creator’s gifts for the well-being of all.” Well, what a wonderful little homily for the assembly.
So why the Creator … as if God won’t do? Is it because you were trying to hide the Conservatives’ attempts to demonize the Islamic people of the world, as PM Harper has said that “Islamicism is the greatest threat to Canada”? Is it because you support the Jewish God but do not want to adversely affect your relationship with the Christian God? Or vice versa?
Or are you trying to play up to our local indigenous groups who have always used the terminology of a Creator? There are of course several indigenous groups on the proposed route for the noxious tar sands to be shipped from Alberta through their territory, territory long revered as made by the Creator and held sacred by the indigenous people as the basis of their life and culture. The government certainly does not want “calculated inputs” on this line of thinking as the costs in dollar terms extrapolated from environmental and cultural damages would simply put stop to the project.