Human Rights: Beyond Indignation (in the Competition for Global Markets, One Nation's Criticism of Another's Human Rights Record Does Little)
Pratt, Cranford, Compass: A Jesuit Journal
Two incidents during the recent visit of Chinese Premier Li Peng are sadly symptomatic. The route chosen from Ottawa's airport was altered so that Li would not see a boat on the Rideau Canal that had mounted a critical banner and was anchored in wait for his passing cavalcade. Then, at the end of their visit as they were to leave their hotel, a curtain was strung across the lobby so that Li Peng and his party need not see a peaceful sit-in protesting the human rights record of the Chinese regime. For many, indignation must surely have taken over at this point. As Charles Taylor wrote to the Toronto Globe and Mail, "Doesn't there come a point when regret for the murdered Chinese democrats (and anger for those still in jail) takes precedence over Mr. Chretien's desire to flog a couple of Candu reactors?"
Over the years, indignation has very often been the reaction of Canadians who have paid attention to their government's aid and trade relations with highly oppressive regimes. And understandably so. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Canadian policies towards such regimes varied widely but not randomly. Canada was firm and vigorous towards states that were gross human rights offenders as long as they were either closely allied with the Soviet Union or else unimportant to Canadian exporters and investors. We were tough, for example, towards Equatorial Guinea, Afghanistan and Poland.
However, Canada had at best timid and minimal policies relating to the human rights records of states that, while equally repressive, were important or potentially important markets for Canadian exports or geopolitically significant and within the American orbit. El Salvador, Indonesia and …
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Publication information: Article title: Human Rights: Beyond Indignation (in the Competition for Global Markets, One Nation's Criticism of Another's Human Rights Record Does Little). Contributors: Pratt, Cranford - Author. Magazine title: Compass: A Jesuit Journal. Volume: 13. Issue: 6 Publication date: January-February 1996. Page number: 14+. © 1996 Compass Foundation. COPYRIGHT 1996 Gale Group.
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