A Google search of Canadian reports on the G20 meeting turns up multiple references to Paul Martin, as is appropriate. And it doesn't matter one bit that former British prime minister Tony Blair also claims to be the guy who came up with the idea. Success has a thousand fathers, the saying goes. And, as has been said of politics, the media in the end cater to the local audience.
What is a bit strange, therefore, is that a similar search on Moammar Gadhafi's United Nations speech turns up not a single reference to Mr. Martin's visit to Libya in 2004 as prime minister. Meeting the half-mad dictator in his tent while, outside, copulating camels kept reporters entertained, was the most embarrassing moment in Canada-Libya relations until the Conservatives came up with the idea of having our Foreign Affairs Minister fly to Newfoundland to berate Africa's King of Kings.
Yesterday, Lawrence Cannon told the General Assembly that eradicating terrorism "in all its forms" is part of the UN's responsibility in fulfilling its international peace and security mandate. In that context, the problem with the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing - which killed 270 people including three Canadians - is not the "hero's welcome" Abdel Basset al-Megrahi received in Tripoli. In fact, by what we've seen of Gadhafi's antics in recent days, the reception at the airport could even be said to have been understated.
Focussing on the welcome was simply the spin of a Prime Minister and government that came under severe criticism for the way they handled the whole issue. If our government has a problem with the release of al-Megrahi, Stephen Harper should have taken it up with his British counterpart, Prime Minister Gordon Brown - whose fingerprints are all over the release - as President Barack Obama did. And Canadian diplomats should be making their displeasure known to the Scottish authorities who actually made the decision - as their U.S. counterparts have done.
Sure, Colonel Gadhafi - who this week tore up the UN Charter, called the Security Council the Terror Council and wove elaborate conspiracy theories about swine flu and the assassinations of Kennedy and King - makes a convenient target to Conservative partisans. But, let's be frank, aside from his other "qualities," Mr. Gadhafi is also a Bedouin. And scapegoating Arabs and Muslims should have no place in Canada's foreign policy.
Update A reader sent along this reminder:
''On a personal level, we have gained a quite personal friendship. We are friends not just because he is the Prime Minister of Canada but we shall always be friends, even if he is not the Prime Minister,'' said Mr. Gaddafi, wrapped in a brown wool robe and wearing a traditional black Libyan cap. He said Canadians are ''lucky'' to have ''His Excellency, the Prime Minister'' as their leader. Mr. Gaddafi even joked about Mr. Martin leading a revolution someday just like he did.
''Pretty soon I expect Canada to be a jamahiriya ,'' he said in reference to his own socialist revolutionary state.
... Mr. Martin called Mr. Gaddafi a ''philosophical man with a sense of history''Report Typo/Error