Thursday, April 02, 2009

Images More Than Just a Photo Op – It Could Cost Us Valuable Land

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – for those who were out of the room when the item came up on the news – was apparently in the bathroom when 20 of the most influential world leaders got together for a group photo.

The photo, part of the pomp and circumstance of the G-20 Summit being held this year in the United Kingdom, was a photo beamed around the world. Prime Minister Harper appeared, for a re-take of the photo, but by then a handful of leaders had already left the room – presumably to discuss really big and important worldly things.

We can laugh at our leader, as I’m sure most others around the globe did when they heard this on their local newscasts. It really isn’t that big a deal, I mean, it’s just a photo shoot – right?


Being present and accounted for is more than simply showing up – it’s about being aware, informed and interested about what is going on, so that you can make a worthwhile contribution.

We all have to go to the bathroom – that’s just a basic biological bodily function. However, unless you have an illness which makes you “go” more often than others, chances are you can, and have, held it in so that you don’t miss important things.

Maybe Prime Minister Harper doesn’t like having his photo taken? Who knows – who cares? But what his absence said was that his presence – and in turn Canada’s as a whole -- really isn’t all that important.

Essentially, by not – ahem – holding it in until a better time to go to the bathroom, Prime Minister Harper said to the world Canada doesn’t matter.

We’ve got a long tradition of compliancy when it comes to global issues. During the often heated softwood lumber disputes with the United States, we lost much ground in the negotiations, not because we were going up against Big Brother USA, but because our reputation preceded us as peaceful and non-confrontational.

When American battleships and subs conducted Arctic manoeuvres without first seeking Canada’s permission to do so back in the late 1980’s, America’s initial response was one of compliancy. They didn’t need to ask permission to run about and shoot missiles in our country – because they didn’t think we’d mind. Just ask the surprised locals who thought we were under attack if we minded. Eventually, the American government apologized, and does get consent before coming up here – but it took a lot of politicking before we got that apology.

We Canadians have a sad reputation as the ones to always concedes to whoever challenge us. This is because our leaders lack substance, and don’t take issues on the world stage seriously.

We’re currently being bullied by Russia for control over the Arctic – and despite Canada’s claim on this continental shelf since we officially became a country, the Russians may actually win this fight, because of our wimpy leaders, not being present on the world stage.

I can’t believe the United Nations is even considering the debate about the Arctic being part of Canada. Since the earliest days of the Hudson Bay Company, when fur traders hunted up in the north, establishing trading posts. These trading posts eventually became communities, which today are cities and towns. These cities and towns were born from the great Canadian fur trade and later the gold rush which followed.

But our Canadian politicians are too wimpy to defend our land – Prime Minister Harper’s government is participating in the contest for control over the Arctic. This contest – more like a bid where both Canada and Russia put forth proof as to who can best manage its resources and the UN will decide the victor – began because of claims that there is over 25% of the world’s untapped oil reserve deep in the Arctic Ocean.

By not being present among the world’s most powerful leaders, our prime minister has once again told the world that Canada’s opinions, ideas, thoughts and concerns don’t matter – we’ll just go along with what everyone else wants.

It may have just been a missed group photo, but if Canada loses control over a land mass which we’ve managed, defended, and called part of our home and native land since day one, then we’ve lost more than just a portrait to hang on the wall. We’ll have lost a bit of our heritage, our history, and most of all, a part of our home.

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