To do no harm

FTLComm - Tisdale - Friday, December 8, 2006

It is part of the creed for practicing medical doctors, they pledge "to do no harm." This may be an excellent week to apply this motto to a number of issues in the country's political arena and indeed, even more so in the world political arena.

We often surmise that action of some kind, is absolutely imperative, when faced with some crisis and we have ample evidence of actions that though meant well at the time, proved to be an outrage.

This week the inactivity of the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police came under so much criticism that he felt it necessary to resign from his position. His harm was to fail to act responsibly as the head man of the country's police force. When he discovered that his men had given false information to the Americans about Mr. Arar he did nothing and the force continued, up until a month ago, continued to pump out leaks and false statements about the man, in order to protect their initial error. Arar spent a year in prison being tortured and that would seem to be a grievous harm that one of us Canadians should be treated in such a manner, caused by the Commissioner's failure to respect Canadian law.

The federal government decided that it would be politically cute to place a motion before parliament to recognise Quebec as a nation. Simply opening up this divisive issue was an act of extreme carelessness on the part of the Prime Minister and we will look back on this action in the future and be sadly embarrassed to see the harm created by even discussing this matter yet again.

American agricultural economists recognise that Canada's Wheat Board is one of the most sensible and proper institutions for the international process of marketing wheat and barley. These are world wide commodities and the individual producer is helpless as a marketing agent for his or her own production. But, the federal government locked into its straight-jacketed ideological mentality is determined to crush this successful institution and once destroyed, it can not be re-established. It would be wise for the government to consider the issue and how doing no harm might be a much better course of action.


Meanwhile, Canadian soldiers are facing the role as an army of occupation, in a country where the Soviet Union was unable to affect any meaningful change and yet we have two thousand hard working people there attempting to do the impossible. Our forces are unable to achieve any good and their only course of action is to do harm. They can only kill more Afghans and by so doing, create an even stronger movement to oppose them, it would seem they need to be withdrawn so that no great harm will be done.

This week the policies of the Bush administration in Iraq have been front and centre as the Secretary of Defence has stepped down and been replaced and a think tank group has released their report on what to do about the sinking project, that was suppose to free and democratise the people of Iraq. Civil war is not something that will take place, it is already in motion and the United States must accept full responsibility for the harm it has created. Iraq posed no threat to the United States when it was invaded, it was not a source of terrorism, it was not bent on producing weapons of mass destruction and had a stable government. It had electricity, some form of law and order and there was no mass slaughter of one religious group by the other. The United States invaded allowing the country to move into total chaos, safety, utilities and crime all became outrages. Now the American forces fight a growing resistance movement and while they do that, the death rate from cultural unrest increases each and every day. One could suggest it, but there is little likelihood of them heeding the suggestion, but this would be a good time to "do not harm."

If you look around this world you will see situation after situation where those involved are reaching for guns instead of extending a hand of friendship and good will. We can see in Africa, Sri Lanka, even Fiji, instance after instance of people choosing to do harm rather than work out a positive solution. Many would tell me that this is as it has always been and I have my doubts about that. We are not stupid beings, people are, for the most part, pretty quick to know what is the right thing to do and doing harm to one another is not the right thing.



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