I first saw the hashtag #bringbackourgirls in a tweet from talented actress Emma Watson, however I’ve been following the kidnapping of Nigerian girls since it happened. I follow the BBC Africa Today podcast and get a sampling of African news from across the continent, so I’m aware of the problems in Western Africa, the Central African Republic, South Sudan’s descent into civil war and many other events. I recommend the podcast to anyone who wants to get news while it’s happening and not wait until a celebrity tweets about it a month later. It is good that people are lending their popularity to good causes but it should be everyone’s responsibility to keep informed of current events. Remember, Nigeria is a major oil and chocolate producer and if it falls to the looneys prices of both go up. I’d mention the people suffering in this situation but pandering to people’s self interests is the fashion of our times and more likely to hit home.
Maybe if Emma, Madonna, the Obamas or other celebrities used a hashtag to call attention to Canada’s murdered or missing Aboriginal women and girls there would be more concern of about 1200 identified over the last thirty years. Instead of just tweeting these celebrities could call for a boycott on Canadian products until progress is made to improve safety and opportunities for Aboriginal people world wide. Barack Obama and David Cameron could show some real leadership and slap sanctions on all Canadian Federal politicians, business leaders and resources extracted from First Nations territories without agreement with the First Nation. A delegation of Aboriginal women should go to Nigeria and offer the supports developed to deal with decades of similar events happening here in Canada.
Pitifully Canada has no democratically elected forum to debate critical national and international issues. The assembly tasked with that job spends too much time pandering to local issues, interfering in other jurisdictions, campaigning to get re elected to the job they never perform or picking fights with people who actually perform their jobs. Canada is sending forces to Eastern Europe, close to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and expected annexation of Ukraine but Parliament debates abortion, yet again. The only time the Canadian government engages with the rest of the world is when there is a possibly for a photo op with Canadian Forces personnel or a resource company needs help selling or lobbying. Our once proud diplomatic service has gone from making a difference to being a lobbying service, really just another form of corporate welfare.
Funny isn’t it, while Canada’s strong, stable, majority government is pushing through the Fixed Elections Act the Parliament that is the basis of Canada’s has a coalition government tackling major issues and attempting ambitious projects like High Speed Rail 2. The situations in Ukraine and Nigeria have been debated in the UK’s Commons and Lords, yet here we have MPs saying they can only do their job by going on self indulgent publicity tours. It would be nice to have a few MPs that were less concerned with divide and rule partisanship or pandering to village idiots. Other countries are sacrificing sacred cows to improve people’s lives while in Canada the sacred cows are growing fatter, and more numerous. All out of political lethargy and fear of actually making a difference that leads to electoral defeat.
Canada has offered token support to help find these missing Nigerians, which is commendable. The problem Canada has is it is in an era of ignorance, real information is attacked in favour of made up numbers to score political points. How can Canada find either the Nigerians or the missing Aboriginal women, who may have been trafficked abroad, without intelligence on the people who have kidnapped them? There is no human intelligence service to go abroad and gather information on the whereabouts of these people. Meanwhile, Canada’s domestic intelligence services are to busy spying on the victim’s families and communities for fear of protests disrupting resource exploitation or staged political events.
The Canadian Forces are capable of helping Nigeria with training and expertise, all the hard earned knowledge from Afghanistan is an asset here. The rest of Canada could support the CF members by not allowing politicians to discard them like kleenex when they’ve served the purpose of scoring extra votes. Instead of cutting the CF budgets Parliament could increase them for training, benefits for serving and retired members, and transform the forces to be more flexible and responsive to a changing world. With the situation in Ukraine, Vietnam and Japan’s current dispute with China, and the rise of groups like Boko Haram all over the planet it would be foolish to keep Canada without claws or without having eyes in the shadowy places.
Every military theorist I’ve read makes a point of having good intelligence before operating, they almost always make a point of denying the enemy of needed resources. Canada can start throttling terrorists access to weapons by ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty, especially the provisions on small arms. As it stands now Canada is standing with groups like Boko Haram by refusing to ratify this treaty. Treaties alone won’t stop the flow of arms, which is why Canada should take the lead in hunting down and arresting or if necessary killing those who facilitate the arms sales to criminals, terrorists or anti-democratic groups. Like someone did with the engineer who was providing Saddam Hussein with superguns. The only safe haven for the arms dealers should be their graves and every arms plant should be watched carefully.
Canada, Nigeria and every other place suffering violence and missing people should take a serious look at the causes and put an end to the corruption that allows such activity to continue unchallenged. The problems are transnational and so should the solutions, instead of countries becoming isolationist, xenophobic or too cowardly to ask for help. Pride and arrogance that is causing a mishmash of methods to deal with global crime is benefitting the criminals. We can’t bring back the dead, but we should use every means possible to bring back the living and prevent more missing/kidnapped people around the world.