Search

 

Cablegate: Canada's Promotion of Human Rights Globally

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHOT #1123/01 2351350
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY ADCB4F74 MSI2043-695)
P 221350Z AUG 08 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8395
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2258
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON PRIORITY 0454
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 1466
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1291
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0458

UNCLAS OTTAWA 001123

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY TEXT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM CH IS BM CA
SUBJECT: CANADA'S PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS GLOBALLY

REF: A. OTTAWA 407
B. OTTAWA 123
C. OTTAWA 758
D. 07 OTTAWA 1982
E. OTTAWA 621
F. OTTAWA 373
G. OTTAWA 593

1. (SBU) Summary: Canada remains a strong partner in
promoting and defending human rights globally. Thanks to its
"principle-based" approach, the Conservative Party believes
that "Canada's voice is being heard" once again. Canada has
awarded honorary citizenship to the Dalai Lama and Aung San
Suu Kyi, served as the sole vote against anti-Israeli UN
Human Rights Council resolutions, and enacted tough sanctions
against Burma. Liberals and other critics, however, have
argued that the Conservative government has been too brash in
its handling of some human rights issues, claiming that PM
Harper's positions have reversed Canada's historic role as a
bridge-builder and balanced broker in foreign affairs. While
the main political parties always try to score partisan
points on various human rights stances and approaches,
Canadian society remains fundamentally committed to promotion
of democracy and human rights at home and abroad, and all
future governments -- of whatever party -- will maintain this
role for Canada throughout the world, both unilaterally and
in multilateral partnerships with the U.S. and other
like-minded democracies. End summary.

SPEAKING OUT
------------

2. (SBU) Under the slogan "Canada is back," Conservative
Prime Minister Stephen Harper since taking office in 2006 has
been especially vocal in his criticism of human rights abuses
in various countries of concern. Characterizing his approach
to human rights as "principle-based," PM Harper has
specifically cited democracy, freedom, human rights, and the
rule of law as the four core values that guide the
government's foreign policy. Conservative Party members have
claimed publicly and privately that, unlike previous Liberal
governments, PM Harper's government has not been afraid to
make difficult, and at times controversial, decisions. They
have criticized the Liberals for "talking a good game" on
human rights and democracy but when in office having mostly
worked to avoid upsetting relations with key trading
partners. In November 2007, PM Harper stated that, "for the
first time in a very long time, Canada's voice is being heard
and as a consequence of its voice being heard is that we're
getting the changes we want to see....That's what a country
with an active foreign policy does." Some journalists and
political commentators have praised PM Harper for his foreign
policy style and promotion of human rights abroad, with one
calling PM Harper a leader who "has the courage of his
convictions and who brushes off criticism as the cost of
leadership."

CHINA
-----

3. (SBU) China has been a special focus of PM Harper's
defense of human rights abroad. In June 2006, Canada's
Parliament -- at the Conservative government's request --
granted the Dalai Lama honorary Canadian citizenship, and in
October 2007, PM Harper became the first Canadian prime
minister formally to receive the Dalai Lama in his office on
Parliament Hill. China reacted angrily in both instances,
with China's political counselor in Canada warning that
Canada's policies would "gravely undermine" Canadian-Chinese
relations and calling the 2007 meeting "blatant interference
Qin China's internal affairs." The Prime Minister and Foreign
Minister also voiced their strong concern over the Chinese
response to unrest in Tibet in March 2008 (ref a), and the
Prime Minister made clear that he would not attend the
opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (although he
sent Foreign Minister David Emerson). PM Harper has also
pressured China to provide Canadian citizen of Uyghur origin
Huseyin Celil (whom China has sentenced to life in prison on
terrorism charges) access to Canadian consular officials and
family members. In defending his decision to pressure China
on the case, PM Harper stated that, while he believed
Canadians wanted their country to promote trade relations
worldwide, he did not think Canadians wanted their government
to "sell out important Canadian values" to the "almighty
dollar." PM Harper has also been quick to point out,
however, that Canada's trade with China continues to grow and
that one of his three stated foreign policy priorities was to
engage with emerging and growing markets, especially China
and India.

ISRAEL
------

4. (SBU) Canada has also taken a number of strong positions
in defense of Israeli human rights. In January 2008, Canada
announced it would not attend the 2009 Durban Review
Conference for the UN World Conference Against Racism,
stating the conference had "degenerated into open and
divisive expressions of intolerance and anti-Semitism" (ref
b). Canada also defended Israel in the UN Human Rights
Council (HRC), and in January 2008 was the sole vote against
a resolution condemning Israeli actions in Gaza. During
annual U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trilateral meetings in May 2008,
Canadian officials stated that one of Canada's top priorities
at the UN HRC was to prevent the unfair treatment of Israel
(ref c). In addition, in March 2006 Canada became the first
country to suspend donor aid to the Palestinian Authority in
response to the election of a Hamas-led government. Canada
remains committed to maintaining its suspension of aid until
Hamas makes a "clear commitment" to renounce terrorism and to
recognize the State of Israel.

...AND ELSEWHERE
----------------

5. (SBU) Canada has taken a strong stand against human rights
violations in Burma, imposing sanctions in 2007 that it
called the toughest any country has imposed (ref d). This
was a rare instance of Canada overcoming the very high
threshold that Canadian law sets for such sanctions. Canada
also stood up for human rights in Burma when, in May 2008,
Canada formally awarded honorary Canadian citizenship to
Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi (which Sein Win
accepted in her absence) in May 2008 (ref e).

6. (SBU) Canada continues also to defend human rights
elsewhere. When Pakistani President Musharraf imposed
emergency rule and cracked down on democracy in November
2007, Canada led the push for, and helped to achieve
consensus on, Pakistan's expulsion from the Commonwealth of
Nations. On Afghanistan, PM Harper skillfully worked out a
bipartisan consensus with the Liberal Party on the extension
of Canada's mission in Kandahar until 2011, which not
incidentally commits Canada to help rebuild the country in
support of democracy and human rights (ref f). Canada has
spoken out forcefully both in public and in private about
human rights concerns in Belarus, Cuba, Syria, Iran, Kenya,
and Zimbabwe, inter alia. In addition, Canada works
collaboratively to promote human rights through such
multilateral institutions as the UN HRC, the UNGA Third
Committee, the Organization of American States, the
Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, and the
Asia-Pacific Democracy Partnership (as ref f described more
fully).


...BUT NOT ALL ASSESSMENTS POSITIVE
-----------------------------------

7. (SBU) Not all commentary on PM Harper's foreign policy and
human right promoting has been positive, however. Liberal
Parliamentarians and some other critics have chastised PM
Harper, for example, for allowing Canadian-Chinese relations
to cool (notably his failure even to visit China since taking
office) and, according to them, hurting Canadian strategic
and economic interests. They have pointed to China's refusal
to classify Canada as an "approved destination status" for
Qto classify Canada as an "approved destination status" for
tourism as one worrisome consequence, and noted that, while
bilateral trade was growing, Canada's share of the overall
Chinese market was falling. Former Liberal prime minister
Jean Chretien stated in August that PM Harper's failure to
attend the Olympic opening ceremonies meant that Canada was
now "at the bottom of the ladder with China" and that Canada
had "lost a lot of ground" with China.

8. (SBU) One respected human rights activist told poloff in
August that, while he believed PM Harper's government had
defended human rights in "some" instances, such as on China's
human rights record, overall he was disappointed in the
government's "erosion of leadership" on human rights --
particularly regarding the Middle East. He claimed that the
current government had "clearly" sided with Israel, ignoring
human rights violations against the Palestinians and
"destroying" Canada's reputation as a fair mediator in the
Middle East. He also claimed that, by "aggressively"
campaigning against certain human rights instruments such as
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, PM Harper
had undermined Canada's historic legacy as a balanced partner
and a "bridge-builder."

COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) Canada continues to serve as a strong partner in
promoting human rights globally, in addition to having
established one of the world's most successful democratic
systems at home. While the main political parties always try
to score partisan points on various human rights stances and
approaches, Canadian society remains fundamentally committed
to promotion and protection of democracy and human rights,
and all future governments -- of whatever party -- will
maintain this role for Canada throughout the world, both
unilaterally and in multilateral partnerships with the U.S.
and other like-minded democracies.

Visit Canada,s Economy and Environment Forum at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/can ada

WILKINS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: