Showing posts with label russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label russia. Show all posts

Sunday, August 11, 2013

an open letter to prime minister stephen harper

To Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

My name is Mark Grondin. I am twenty-three years old, a Canadian citizen living in Toronto, and at one point in my life, I was a member of The Conservative Party of Canada. I have voted for you, Mr. Prime Minister. And though we disagree on many points, I have respected you for your intelligence, your stances on certain policy, and your shrewd politics.

Which is why, today, I am calling upon you to boycott the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and call for a relocation of the Olympic Games to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

I am sure at this point, you are aware of the gross human rights abuses currently exploding across Russia targeting the LGBT community. You have likely heard of Stephen Fry's plea to his Prime Minister David Cameron to take a stance against Vladimir Putin and his autocratic, wholly corrupt reign that allows grotesque atrocities to take place within his nation. I do not care that said atrocities may have popular support within Russia, and that such prejudice and homophobia may be condoned by both the Kremlin and the Russian majority. The world community has grown large and will continue to grow, and if Russia wants to be included in that community and hold a place of respect in that community by hosting the Olympic Games, they must shed the backwards-looking bigotry that serves no purpose other than rancorous hatred.

I will not attempt to appeal to your emotions, Mr. Prime Minister. At this point, I'm sure those appeals have been made and discarded. Instead, I will put forward the following reasoned points that will show not only will this will be the right choice, but will benefit you, the Conservative Party, and Canadians as a whole. You have protected the rights of the LGBT community within Canada by blocking bills from your own party to restrict them, and even if the intent is only to secure your reelection, it is still the right choice to make. 

To begin, you have always made your position clear regarding your support for our men and women in uniform. The athletes that Team Canada is sending to Russia this year wear our uniform, and will put their bodies through grueling challenges in the greatest test of their lives. They have trained for years for this opportunity, and now some may have justly founded fears that they may be targeted for their sexuality before they have a chance to take to the slopes or the ice. Furthermore, there are Canadian citizens travelling to Sochi to watch and support our athletes, non-combatants who may be walking into territory that may be hostile to them. Should they have to cower or conceal who they are because of thuggish brutes who might kidnap, rape, torture, or kill them, all under the negligent eye of an autocrat? You know the answer to that, Mr. Prime Minister - you took an oath of office to stand for the safety and protection of all Canadians, including those abroad, including those who wear our flag and represent us on the world stage.

But it is not just the safety of our people, Mr. Prime Minister, but of athletes across the world from many nations who might feel in danger setting foot in Sochi - which is why I have put forward the option of Vancouver. We already have the facilities in place, and it would not require work to get them in top condition. We are one of the few nations that have that ability. And while it would be expensive, you and I both know that the economic stimulus thanks to tourism, business investment, and tax revenue to the Canadian economy through hosting this event would be a great boon to us. According to the Olympic Games Impact report conducted by the University of British Columbia, a conservatively estimated fifty million dollars was collected in tax revenue alone! Once again, we could increase Canada's economic stature on the world stage, something in which you have a vested interest. We can show the world yet again that Canada is a place of solace and safety and freedom, regardless of your race, gender, or sexuality.

And this boon is not just confined to Canada as a whole, Mr. Prime Minister. If you choose to lead your party towards this option, you will gain political capital across Canada and the world. You will show that not only will we refuse to stand along side those who advocate abhorrent and repugnant policy, but that we are offering a better alternative on our shores. You will be a leader not just of our country, but of the world, one willing to take that first, lonely step forward in favour of truth, justice, and the protection of human rights. This would be an opportunity for the Canadian government to take a stand and affirm our commitments to the protection of our citizens abroad and the preservation of higher principles we hold sacrosanct.

We will pay a diplomatic cost for this. The Russian government will not look favourably upon this. We will likely pay something of an economic cost for this as well. And there may even be a political cost for this at home, from within your own party or by those who will make the timid assertion that we should not take international action like this without the unilateral support of our allies, or that we should focus on issues within our borders before bothering to look out. You know all this, Mr. Prime Minister, and that is why as of this recording you have made statements disapproving of the Russian policy, but nothing more. President Obama has made similar statements, but he can do little at this time - the United States' international political capital is running dry in Russia. If you choose to take this step, for a moment, you may stand alone.

But that is the role of the leader. That is his purpose. The position of a man strong in his convictions and courage, his eyes clear and his gaze unwavering. Such a man knows that there is a time for words, but when words prove ineffective, action is required - and this is the time for action. We are one of the few nations on this planet that can take this action, Mr. Prime Minister, and rest assured, there will be others that will follow if you choose to lead. I know you hold respect towards the annals of history, and the great men who have led us, and you may have questioned how you might be remembered as time marches onward.

This is one such way history is made, Mr. Prime Minister, by those willing to put money and action where their mouths are and show courage to stand against those who have betrayed their oaths of office and willfully endangered the lives of their own populace. I have never doubted your courage of convictions, Mr. Prime Minister, and I know you have integrity. Now is your chance to prove it to not just to me, or to your party, or to your electorate, but the world.

To quote Theodore Roosevelt: "The credit belongs to those people who are actually in the arena... who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions to a worthy cause; who at best, know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Step into the arena, Mr. Prime Minister. Stand against tyranny and persecution so that lives might be saved. Make history.