Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Stephen Harper deserves praise for his action on Ukraine

Stephen Harper and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.
Maybe there's some political motive involved or maybe Stephen Harper is taking a principled position.
Regardless, Canada's prime minister is earning praise — in this country — for his action on Ukraine.
Harper has emerged as one of the world's most vocal critics against Russia and their annexation of Crimea. His government held emergency parliamentary and cabinet debates on the issue. With support from the opposition parties, Canada was quick to impose sanctions and travel bans against Russian officials.
[ Related: Russian sanctions against Canadians a 'badge of honour' ]
Harper was the first G7 leader to visit Ukraine to visit with the new Crimean administration — something Postmedia News described as doing the "rhetorical heavy lifting" for the west.
And he was the one leading the charge to expel Russia from the G8, an action which led to the Group of Seven industrial nations barring Moscow from future meetings.
His harsh words have even caught the attention of the Russians.
Alexander Romanovich, a Russian parliamentarian, told the Globe and Mail that Canada has no reason to get involved in a dispute so far from its borders.
"Where is Canada? Over there," he said pointing to a far off place.
[ Related: Harper warns Germany about Russia, says Putin trapped in Cold War mindset ]
Harper's recent behavior has also caught the attention of some of Canada's most prominent journos:
The Ottawa Citizen's Michael Den Tandt wrote under the headline "Crimea Crisis has shown Harper at its best."
"On the Ukraine file, since Russia’s illegal, duplicitous and reckless invasion of Crimea, the prime minister has been at his best. Both he and Foreign Minister John Baird deserve credit for the clear, principled and authoritative position they have taken, up to and including championing Russia’s indefinite suspension from the G8, now again the G7."
The Globe and Mail editorial board penned this glowing review of Harper's efforts:
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper has demonstrated Canada’s worth as a member of the G8, by his forthright advocacy of the suspension of Russia from the group, in the light – or rather the shadow – of Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and threats against Ukraine.
Canada has often been classified as a “middle power.” It was admitted in 1976, a year after a G6 group of the six leading industrialized powers took shape. But in the Ukrainian crisis, this middle power has shown its prescience."
And the Toronto Star's Tim Harper wrote about all the questions about Stephen Harper's international affairs' abilities early in his career.
"It has been a long, eight-year journey for a man who came to office mocked for his lack of international curiosity, but Stephen Harper has become the Cold Warrior of the G7.
Harper has a rigid sense of black-and-white, evil-and-good in the world. He is a man who demands to see actions before he will move off a position and he is not swayed by promises and conciliatory language."
There is still more work to do for Harper and his G7 brethren: there are worries over Russia's stance in eastern Ukraine and the BRIC countries recently condemned the hostile language against Russia. Then there's the issue of potential economic sanctions.
But to date, Harper is leading the way and, for that, he should be lauded.
(Photo courtesy of Reuters)
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