By Tony Burman
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s graceless encounter with Cuban President Raul Castro at last weekend’s historic Summit of the Americas in Panama reminded me of something.
We need to keep telling our grandchildren that, yes, there was a time — long, long ago, perhaps — when Canada stood as a proud, independent and constructive presence in the world.
We saw it in 1959 when, in spite of intense American pressure, Canada — also led then by a Conservative government — was one of only two countries in the hemisphere to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba following the Cuban Revolution.
We saw it again in 1970 when Canada became one of the first Western countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China.
And we saw it on display for decades — until Harper’s first election in 2006 — when Canada skilfully gained the respect and friendship of all sides in the Middle East by acting as a genuine “honest broker” instead of being an unquestioning cheerleader for only one side.