By 1999, the treaty became recognized internationally as 40 states, led by Canada, were already on the signatory state list. Since then, more than 80% of the world states have either ratified or acceded. This international recognition is growing, as countries like Afghanistan and Angola still have over 10 Million implanted landmines each. In 2008 alone, the number of casualties worldwide was about 5,200, while the danger of potential victims in future years stands still. Also, not to mention these mines block access to schools and usage of farms, which are the main sources of support for many families in the affected regions. Clearly, these results seriously violate basic human rights, like the right to life and security.
Although they are not bound by the treaty, the 36 countries that have not signed were already on top of the AP mine production and usage lists. This is not a thing of the past either, as Russia and Myanmar were caught using those on multiple occasions in recent years, while 13 of the 36 countries still produce landmines, including the United States, which not only produces and stockpiles them but also develops new landmine systems for potential future usage. While the current universality is wide enough for international recognition and has already resulted in good progress that includes the destruction of 44 million AP mines, the negligence of some of the supposed world leaders in acceding and complying with the treaty puts the international effort in jeopardy, as it discourages the rest of the unbound countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Georgia, and Uzbekistan from joining the treaty. Furthermore, this non-compliance does not do good to the excessive usage of mines by the non-state groups in these countries, where often the state and these armed groups are in conflict.
Albert Schweitzer once said, "Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing", but when the global powers decide to deviate from the sensible direction and lead the world to its self destruction, and mines have their small but fair contribution there, then I would not be very hopeful in a soon to come major global shift that upholds humanity as its main principle. All in all though, focus should be given to the efforts of international cooperation, but while still internally and externally pressuring the other countries through all possible means, including political and economic influence to adopt landmine action conventions such as the Ottawa Treaty.
The basis of Canada's laws on freedom of expression are appropriate for the Canadian context. While our southern neighbors don't seem to approve of these, we should only continue to push for what has worked for us all along as Canadians.
The issue of free speech between Canada and the United States caught the media's full attention on both sides early last week, when Ann Coulter visited a number of Canadian university campuses. Prior to her entry to Canada and throughout her visit, she did not seem to get it. The poor lady thought, just like many Americans do, that Canada's law is a typical copy of America's.
Newsflash, things are much more mature up here! According to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there are legal penalties against "the wilful promotion of hatred". Fortunately for Ann Coulter and the rest of her friends, such well-needed limits do not seem to exist in America's "all you can eat" culture, when at no point you're obligated to stop.
While our government hasn't shown any interest or lack thereof in the whole matter, we all need to understand why things run the way they do here. After all, it is us who primarily get affected by these regulations. Lets first agree that the main reason these limits exist to begin with is to avoid hate violence or even violence in general, whether such violence is direct or triggered. To analyse this further, we need to make a simple comparison between violent hate crimes in Canada vs those in the US. Few hundred such crimes were reported in 2004 in Canada*, while a number in the high thousands was reported in the US. This makes Canada's rate of hate violence per unit of population well below that in States**. From this, it is very clear that people are more motivated to commit such violence in racially-tense environments like many areas in the States, where hate is fed to the public by those who intend to cause racial and cultural stirs, and believe me those people do exist, as individuals and groups too; and yes, Coulter is only one of them.
In Canada's ideology, at least up to this point, free expression is valued but strong communities and cultural harmony are even more important qualities that we care about. After all, we always want our true north to stay "strong and free" and not just free without the strong diverse cultural base that makes up the fabric of our society.
Finally, while changing our political culture and principles will make us like the rest, I don't see it helping our diversity or our environment of mutual respect and tolerance. Also, while our free expression laws do keep things subjective for the time being on what is or isn't allowed, the least we can do at the moment is support the foundation of these laws, while still keeping an eye on the decisions our federal government and its immigration officials are taking, at least until these laws get more clearly defined or become more objective by handing such matters to independent agencies.
*Canada Hate Crime Records: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85f0033m/85f0033m2008017-eng.pdf. The definition of hate crimes in Canada includes hate speech.
** US FBI Hate Crime Records: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offenses_reported/hate_crime/index.html#table2_32. US definition of hate crimes does not include hate speech.
I am no economist, but I can tell you what I see. While the government insists that Canada is well underway to economic recovery, small businesses are still suffering, and bigger corporations are either still laying more workers off or keeping tight on budget and praying that less spending will help them survive the ongoing economic crisis.
Canada's Economic Action Plan, our government's response to the economic recession, is a $40 billion dollar package over 2009 and 2010. While the government is claiming this full amount is intended to support the economy and create new jobs, a lot of this money seems to have gone or on its way to waste. The theoretical concept behind targeted stimulus spending is good in principle, but when spending becomes aimless or propaganda-oriented, that's when we, the supposed beneficiaries of stimulus, draw the line and question the choices Ottawa made.
The type of aimless spending I am referring to includes the stimulus given to industries that do not necessarily need it or those who have not been hit by the economic downfall. Industries such as aerospace, security, and defence are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars, and that's just the least of it. While I wouldn't object the regular spending on such industries for R&D purposes, putting the title of economic recovery on such help is purposely misleading us but is a calculated move on behalf of the government. Furthermore, this propaganda continues to include the massively large amounts of money dedicated to advertising the plan to the citizens of this country in all formats and mediums from print to web-based. The costs of the action plan road signs alone are estimated to have cost about $50 million dollars, an amount ridiculously large for the need knowing that you can find four or five of these within a block distance in some areas. What makes this even worse is that most of these signs were manufactured in the States by Zumar Industries defying the very purpose of stimulus spending, which is supporting your local businesses.
After all, it's like C. H. Spurgeon put it "Economy is half the battle of life; it is not so hard to earn money as to spend it well.", but Harper and Flaherty seem to be struggling with both, especially the latter, so their solution was to just spend it all to make the industry content and brag to the voters about how Canada has one of the largest economic stimulus packages in the world, all in hopes of pulling off a majority in the next Federal election.
Finally, while the action plan seemed to have delivered some results, its impact could have been a lot better if spending focused solely on what the government claimed the plan existed for, supporting the hard-hit industries and creating more local jobs.
It is a democracy, the one and only in the Middle East and beyond, at least that's what they've been trying to convince everyone for the past 6 decades. Now, it does not stop there, this democracy is the most threatened in the world, says its prime minister Netanyahu because of the many dictator rulers and extreme religious leaders surrounding it. With that, Israel has been getting by very easily without being questioned or judged about any of its many crimes against the Palestinians.
Being supported, for perhaps not the most genuine reasons, by the governments and lobbies that control the global political scene, this unlimited support needs to be justified to the rest of the world and I'd argue to the citizens of first world countries. To campaign for this support, many tricks have been used, some worked and others didn't, but one never seems to get old. The value of democracy has always been leveraged as the most common element that brings the West and Israel together. From there, it naturally followed that the state of Israel must be defended against any opposing activities, even if these were as simple as speaking up against its criminal policies or educating the public about its racist values that are pro-apartheid. It is a shame to see democracy, the value that supposedly sits at the core of the Western civilization, as a lousy method that enables the strong against the weak. Not only do I consider this disgraceful, but also contradictory of the very basis of democracy, which is the right to speak, especially when it comes to violations of human rights and justice.
I am writing this, as a response to the decision many of the Western parliaments, including Canada's, passing or trying to pass motions to condemn and oppose Israel Apartheid Week, an event its organizers claim is based on awareness and education. When asked about the reasoning behind such blind support, most defended "Israel's values are homogeneous with ours" stressing the factor of democracy in their response. It is unfortunate to see these politicians willing to give it all up for their parliament seats, even if it took associating their countries with the disgusting values and principles of the state of Israel.
The bottom line is we need to speak up and spread the word against apartheid, even if it was an Israeli apartheid, until our governments and politicians realize that their people know the facts and understand the plots, and only then they'll have no choice but to comply with the aware majority.
My intention behind this blog is that it will serve as an avenue for me to express my thoughts on areas of interest, namely politics and maybe business. Although it may seem useless to some, I want this to be part of my contribution to society. Contributing through speaking out on thoughts, ideas, and even emotions is something that I've always felt strongly about, and I will now use this blog as one avenue to realize this.
Although it is not my area of study or my profession, politics (especially Canadian Politics) is a definite area of interest that I have a lot to say about.
I do appreciate your response to my blog posts but request you to stay within the proper boundaries of appropriate conversation. Violations will be removed!
I finally thank you for visiting. Keep monitoring this blog on weekly basis, as this is the frequency I am planning to post at for the time being.