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Even as Mubarak falls, Harper sides with power

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
The mobilization & courage of millions of Egyptians led to the fall of Mubarak's regime. CC Al Jazeera
The mobilization & courage of millions of Egyptians led to the fall of Mubarak's regime. CC Al Jazeera

It's been a stunning ride watching the revolution in the streets of Egypt, and particularly in the epicentre at Tahrir Square. President Hosni Mubarak's resignation and the people's movement that pushed, unceasingly, over the last three weeks even when it seemed like he would hold strong, is proof that change can come from a mass movement. And one that isn't led by political parties, NGOs or charismatic leaders. 

There are important questions already being raised: with power handed to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, what is their plan for a transition? Will the entire Mubarak regime - including Vice President Omar Suleiman, CIA operative complicit in 'extraordinary renditions' and torture - be removed, clearing the way for a complete change in the power structures?

The level of international solidarity has also been inspiring, with people celebrating and urging on the Egyptian people throughout their struggle. Not the least in terms of spreading news and helping create ways for information to get out of the country as the Mubarak government tried to block the flow of information.

We must also keep up the pressure internationally. While this revolution is the revolution of the Egyptian people, the jockeying by outside governments to exert influence and ensure that the right people get in will soon begin (and probably already has). The US government had squarely called on Mubarak to go, but reportedly backed a Suleiman-run government. In Canada, the situation is more precarious.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon was one of very few government officials internationally to come out and back Mubarak's last ditch attempt to hold on to power by saying he would resign in September at the end of his term. The only others were a US special envoy to Egypt, who was criticized by his own government which quickly distanced itself from him, and the government of Israel.

The link was not lost on some, with the Canadian press reporting that the Canada-Israel Committee had circulated their similar concerns to Canadian MPs shortly before Canon's statement. The major sticking point for coth the CIC and the Conservatives? That it was unclear whether a new Egyptian government would recognize the State of Israel. While it's an important question (no matter which side of the debate you are on), to withhold clear support for a pro-democracy revolution that clearly was (and is) based on the broad will of the people, shows a twisted set of priorities. It clearly puts into question the Conservatives' constant call for democratic & human rights reforms in dictator-led countries around the world.

Prime MInister Stephen Harper, who always carefully chooses his words, spoke today about Egypt, three hours before Suleiman announced Mubarak's resignation. Without knowing that Mubarak would soon be gone, Harper said, "Our strong recommendations to those in power would be to lead change. To be part of it and to make a bright future happen for the people of Egypt."

Calling on those in power not to step aside, as the people have been calling for over the last 18 days, but rather to "lead change," Harper belied his continuing support for Mubarak and his government to remain in place. In the past, Harper has trumpeted the fact the Conservatives - and the Canadian Alliance and Rerform parties before it  - has grassroots support. But when we see one of the most striking grassroots movements in recent memory, he sides clearly with the group which should be on its way out.

Our government's statements won't sway the result of this people's revolution. But in the coming months and years, as western governments jockey for continued influence in the Middle East, we need to maintain support and vigilance for the Egyptian people's movement. As many Egyptians have been saying, this is not the end, this is the beginning. We must make sure to be there with them along that road, and ensure that our governments are not standing in their way.


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