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Saturday, January 1, 2011
Canada has lost its way under Harper
Gulf News Editorial
Effective Sunday, all Canadians entering the UAE will require a visitor's visa. Previously, Canada was one of 33 countries whose citizens were exempt from pre-obtaining a visa, with permission to enter being granted on arrival.
So why this change? That question is best answered from the Canadian perspective.
Canada had rightly earned a status in the international community as a fair and open-minded country, willing to open its doors to all, willing to assist the needy, willing to embrace the downtrodden. It was always viewed as a nation willing to accept those fleeing political, religious and ethnic strife; its fabric enriched by the fact that one-in-three of its people were born elsewhere.
Sadly, this progressive outlook has changed.
Ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his right-wing Conservative government came to power, the veneer of civility has slipped. Politics in Ottawa has become polarized — it is Harper's way or the highway. Independent institutions such as Statistics Canada or the Atomic Energy Control Board have suffered from political interference from the Prime Minister's Office.
Where Canada once was a friend of the Palestinians, the Harper government now embraces Tel Aviv and its politics of colonization. Where open skies were supposed to exist, the government of Canada embraces protectionism. Where companies were independent, they are now subsidized and granted preferential treatment, as is the case with Air Canada.
Where Canada was a nation once dedicated to peacekeeping, it is now engaged in peacemaking, its handling of detainees in Afghanistan a blight on the record of Canada's Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Canada. And it has ignored its own court decisions to abandon Omar Khadr in Guantanamo Bay. He was but a boy soldier in Afghanistan, now convicted by a kangaroo court.
That's why Canada's citizens need a visa.
Photo: Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper