Chretien dodges moral high ground

By Mat Farrell

Editor, the Gauntlet:

Re: "Our savvy prime minister," Sept. 5, 2002.

Kris Kotarski was wrong to praise Jean Chrétien for occupying the moral high ground and criticizing United States and European Union leaders over issues discussed at the United Nations Summit for Sustainable Developement. Chrétien cannot be held accountable for his actions in the next election because of his planned resignation in 2004. Consequntly, he is not acting in Canada’s best interests, but rather is pursuing policies that garner him popularity and approval on the world stage–particularly among the poorer countries that dominate the UN.

The things that Chrétien is pursuing, such as increased and unconditional foreign aid to Africa through New Partner in Africa’s Developement, expansion of the Federal Parks system and signing the accord are bad for Canada. Many of these initiatives would be bad for other industrialized countries as well and thus many other members of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (notably the U.S. and the U.K.) rejected them–and were attacked by Chrétien for doing so. Furthermore, many of the initiatives supported by Chrétien and African leaders would not aid African development either. For example, the call to reduce agricultural subsisdies would have very little effect on the overall development level of African nations, because, quite simply, there is no statistical relationship between African poverty and US/UK grain subsidy levels. Researchers have also demonstrated that the level of development is not linked to the amount of foreign aid countries receive, so pumping in more money would not help the situation either. Rather, it appears that the best indicators of development are closely linked to these, which is what the U.S. is doing.

Chrétien needs to do what is best for Canada (and to a lesser extent for the rest of the world), rather than what is popular. He is doing just the opposite, and so deserves not praise, but scorn.

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