Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Anita Neville Blasts the UN -- and Shoots Herself in the Foot

Interesting statement from Anita Neville, the Liberal MP from Winnipeg South Centre:

Mr. Speaker, Canada and the world increasingly view the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as a failure.

Tasked with the protection of human rights worldwide, its members now include Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and even Sudan. Hypocritically, it fails to task these and other serious human rights violators. Instead, it criticizes Israel, the only place in the Middle East where Arabs have recourse to independent courts for alleged abuses.

On March 14, the Minister of Foreign Affairs alluded to the integrity problems of the UNCHR stating, “the credibility of the Commission on Human Rights, in particular, has been challenged”.

Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated last Thursday, “the commission's ability to perform its tasks has been undermined by the politicization of its sessions and the selectivity of its work”.

There are a lot of social conservatives who, under normal circumstances, would agree with Ms. Neville. However, it's not a coincidence that her statement comes shortly after the release of the Commission's report on indigenous peoples, which reported on Canada in its third addendum:

Despite the progress already achieved, Aboriginal people are justifiably concerned about continuing inequalities in the attainment of economic and social rights, as well as the slow pace of effective recognition of their constitutional Aboriginal and treaty rights, and the concomitant redistribution of lands and resources that will be required to bring about sustainable economies and socio-political development.

Priority attention must be given to the persistent disparities between Aboriginal people and other Canadians as reflected in higher poverty rates and lower than average health, educational, housing and welfare services for Aboriginal people, which continue to be among the most pressing issues facing Aboriginal people.

The Addendum, in other words, roasts the Liberal government over its past and present policies with regard to our Native peoples.

As Hunter S. Thompson would say, "Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then." If you look at the recent reports on the state of Aboriginal peoples in Canada--from our own government as well as others-- you'd have to acknowledge that the UNCHR might have a point.

Ms. Neville, in other words, isn't attacking the UNCHR for being a useless bureaucracy. She attacked it because it tattled on the Grits to the world--shooting the messenger, if you will.

Memo to Ms. Neville: in light of everything else going on, drawing attention to failed Liberal policies by trying to defend them is not a good idea. Far better to acknowledge the fault and move on.