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Landmines can be next ethical export for Harper government

Arguably, the single worst thing the Harper government has done during its feckless term in office is to walk away from Canada's global responsibility to address climate change.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Liberal predecessors weren't fundamentally better. The Liberals signed the Kyoto treaty with no intention of implementing it.

But Mr. Harper's team is worse, because not only are we continuing to fail to meet our responsibilities, and not only has the government of Canada become a huckster for some of the most carbon-intensive products on sale in the global marketplace, but Mr. Harper and his ministers want us to think this is a principled thing to do -- something to celebrate.

The case, wittily concocted by a Sun News television comedian, is that our government's determination to produce ever more carbon and to profit from it is "ethical," because Canada is a good country. Not like bad countries, like Iran or Saudi Arabia. We're a nice democracy. So any product we produce is "ethical."

This being so, perhaps when he returns from disgracing our country in Durban, the Environment Minister can be given a new mandate. In addition to being a global salesman for carbon, Peter Kent can take on a new ethical sales job: Let's get into ethical landmines.

Consistent with their vision, the Harper team can next withdraw from the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Treaty.

After all, if the world's despots and paramilitaries can't buy ethical landmines from Canada, they'll have to buy them from countries like Iran, Burma and China. To the Harper government's mind, it's not ethical for a child to be killed by a landmine produced by prison labour, or in a country where women are not allowed to vote. Not when they could be killed by a landmine produced ethically right here in Mr. Harper's Canada.

So then, to perfectly fit the template, the Harper government will need to contrive to send just the basic components of landmines to, say, Texas, for our friends there to assemble into landmines, which can then be resold to us at a handsome profit. The Harper government doesn't believe in processing our resources in Canada. So the ethical thing to do is sell the components overseas and south of the border, to be resold to us as finished products. Which we can then market to the world.

Landmines -- the next ethical export of the future. Get to it, Mr. Kent. And then, surely, there's more Mr. Harper and his salesman can do, ethically, with asbestos...

This article was first published in the Globe and Mail.

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