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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Canada and Mandela

Canada has reasons to be proud of our long association with Nelson Mandela and the international opposition to apartheid.  Mandela even in prison came to know of this support through the BBC.  He has come to know as one who remembers his friends who supported him and his struggle over the years.  He made his first of three trips to Canada, the first being his first trip abroad just four months after his release from prison.  He came to meet Prime Minister Brian Muroney to thank him and Canada for their support. On this occasion he spoke to a joint session of  Parliament and was well received. 

Nelson Mandela and Brian Mulroney

Brian Mulroney, to his credit, (I am not one of his fans but I could forgive him a lot for his stand with Mandela and against apartheid.)  broke rank with is fellow conservative leaders at the time, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.  These good friends he talk frankly that they were on the wrong side of history by dismissing Mandela as a communist terrorist and continuing to support the fascist apartheid government of South Africa.  Mulroney also faced down the banking, business establishment in Canada, which largely supported the South African regime because of the business ties.  Mulroney was an early world leader in the struggle against apartheid when he declared at the United Nations that Canada would boycott business between Canada and South Africa.  His foreign minister at the time, John Clark did much of the heavy lifting on this, promoting the sanctions against South Africa and defending Canada's position.  Canada, and Australia took the leadership on this in the Commonwealth of Nations when Britain failed to do so, this influencing other nations to follow their lead.

The struggle for Mandela release and the condemnation of apartheid had long been a cause for many Canadians: labour unions, churches, and student groups, kept up the pressure on successive government. 
It was another conservative prime minister, John Diefenbacker,  who insisted an apartheid government has no place in the Commonwealth of Nations. As a result, South Africa was excluded in the 1960's. putting international pressure on that government.

aTwice more, Nelson Mandela came to Canada, 1998 and 2001.  He spoke once again before the Canadian parliament, now as Prime Minister of South Africa.  In 1998 he was awarded the Order of Canada and addressed a gathering of 45,000 students at the Skydome. He was treated like a rock star and no doubt left a big impression of the gathered students from the Toronto area.  In 2001, he came and was made an honorary Canadian,  a very rare honour granted by Canada.  He also visited a very interesting school in Toronto named after him.  It is in the poorer area of Regent Park. The school includes the life and values of Nelson Mandela in their curriculum.

Canada sent a significant delegation to Mandela's funeral. It included four prime minsters; Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, Kim Campbell  and Stephen Harper two former Governor Generals:  Adrian Clarkson, and  Michaëlle Jean. Other prominent Canadians were there including Stephen Lewis, who worked so long for the UN in Africa, and Tom Mulcair, leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

I must say I am embarrassed that Stephen Harper, our current Prime Minister, was the one to praise Nelson Mandela and Canada's role in supporting him and opposing apartheid. It came off as so insincere. Stephen Harper leads a government that serves business and economic matters before all else. If he had been Prime Minister earlier he would have stood in solidarity with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in support of the South African government, if for no other reason than it was good for business. If he ever was concerned about  apartheid and the oppression of people he would be speaking up on behalf of the Palestinian people if no leading in the struggle against the apartheid system of the Israeli government. Instead he has the strongest unconditional support for the right wing Israeli government of  any current world leader. It would have been nice if he had stood aside and let Brian Mulroney take the lead to speak on Canada's behalf.

There are those Canadians who feel Canada was somewhat slighted by not being asked to have a spokesman at his funeral.  It would have been nice to have Canada recognized in proportion to it's significance in Mandela's eyes. Of course, it was not Canada's decision to make. Canada was represented at the funeral, not for our honour but to honour Nelson Mandela, who we so long supported and respected

The program below is worth listening to. It is a CBC program called Ideas. It is program about Nelson Mandela life, based on recording done over a number of years and it part of a very extensive archive in South Africa of his ideas This is the first time they have been broadcast.


At 2:49 p.m., Blogger possum said...

Funerals of the great ones are always interesting. Suddenly there are all these great friends who claim to have always been there... yeah, right.
Not meaning to take anything away from Mandela or your post about him, but I have always been baffled as to why so many thought Reagan such a great president!?!?!?! He was a ACTOR, and was given a role to play and he played it. But I truly don't think any real decisions were his. He was never in control any more than baby Bush.
Mandela was one of the truly Great Men of our time, and they are few and far between - a man to be honored.

At 8:39 p.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

As usual, you have you fingers on the pulse of events and Canada's role in them. Stay warm, Philip.

At 11:21 a.m., Blogger Owen Gray said...

Like you, Philip, I am no fan of Mulroney. But I believe that he showed remarkable courage when he stood up for Mandela. It was his finest hour.

Have a happy holiday season.

At 5:43 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

I learn so much about your country from your blog, Philip. It makes me want to make the effort to visit there.
That was a lovely tribute to Nelson Mandela. Isn't it sad that we don't have more people that follow his lead.

At 9:12 a.m., Blogger troutbirder said...

Most interesting retrospect on Canada's role in the world. I'm most impressed. One more reminder of why we always loved Canada, headed north for our summer camping trips and enjoyed meeting Canadians....:)

At 1:03 a.m., Blogger Ien in the Kootenays said...

Harper, stand aside? Dream on! In retrospect Mulroney was benign and statesman like. Love your solid grasp of Canadian history. It was a country as good as it gets. Let's hope there is some of it left when the present regime is done.

At 12:46 p.m., Blogger J C said...

Happy New Year Philip!

At 3:38 a.m., Blogger Unknown said...

When dying people like Nelson is always sad. He was a good, sincere man, and a good example for generations. I write articles like this on . The eternal memory for Mandela.

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At 2:43 p.m., Blogger J C said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2:46 p.m., Blogger J C said...

For some reason I was thinking about you today Philip, 3/6/2019. I hope you are spreading your wings happily and that Heidi is with you. R.I.P. judie

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