Canada will be on display during the G20 meeting in Toronto June 27-28, but what exactly are we showcasing to the participating countries?  Two days of closed meetings reveals little, so it seems Harper is counting on the artificialities such as the ‘fake lake’ exhibit to show the magnificence that is Canada.  Looking at recent history, what should people know about the current government, its policies and the sensibilities of those people who support it? 

The current Canadian government, it seems to me, differs from previous governments including progressive conservative ones in that it quite openly embraces the so-called neo-con institutions favored by our southern neighbors, in both policy and rhetoric.  These include the more aggressive foreign policy strategy of nation building, as well as divisive domestic policies favoring faux culture war issues over issues of substance, all presented to the viewing public with a familiar ‘you’re either with us or against us’ attitude. 

When the current government is challenged by official opposition or the press, it reacts like any school yard bully:  with threats and petulance.  You want to subpoena conservative staffers to lawfully appear before committee?  Tough.  We’ll just yell and obfuscate instead. 

You want to exercise a legitimate shot at bringing down the government and forcing an election?  Tough.  We’ll just prorogue parliament, take our marbles and go home. 

You want to debate our mission in Afghanistan and question foreign policy?  Fine.  You must be a terrorist sympathizer. 

You wish to move forward with environmental policies that acknowledges climate change and help reduce carbon emissions while promoting ‘green’ technologies?  That’s too bad since the agreed upon emission targets are simply unrealistic and unattainable, which is actually fine since the science behind global warming is not very sound, and the findings of the vast majority of the world’s scientists really isn’t a consensus. 

The cumulative effect of these policies has been a chilling of our international reputation of being more moderate and centrist, and I think some people around the world might look at us and wonder what happened to our sensibilities.  The recent Amnesty International report critical of Canada confirms this erosion of our position in the world.  The one thing to note, in my opinion, is that the conservatives would not be able to pursue their plutocratic efforts were it not for Canadian equanimity and our eroding moderate sensibilities, the same sensibilities that have served us well in the past.  These days however it seems more important to appear righteous than it is to do the right thing. 

Ottawa’s attempts to showcase Canada to the G20 participants with ‘fake lakes’ is like the old Bacon Bits slogan:  ‘Tastes more like bacon than bacon itself!’  Canada’s progressive heritage and potential is, at the moment, tethered to the monolith also known as Brand Harper and doesn’t seem to going anywhere.