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Letter to Prime Minister Harper

The Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street,
December 15, 2006


Dear Mr. Prime Minister;

It is with a sense of disbelief and a deep feeling of embarrassment that we see that Canada has joined with the United States as the only two countries in the Americas to oppose a standard resolution by the OAS that would send a congratulatory letter to Venezuela’s head-of-state Hugo Chavez following “elections held in a general frame of normality”. It should be noted that the OAS’s own Observer Mission and the Carter Centre judged the Venezuelan elections to be free and fair. However, because of this unprecedented position taken by our government officials, the required unanimity for passage of this resolution at the OAS has been blocked.

Ever since the bloody era of the generals and their dirty wars in Latin America, Canada has been in the forefront of pushing for a return to democracy in countries south of the Rio Grande. Now that all countries in the region have returned to democratic practices (and arguably none more than Venezuela with ten elections/referenda in less than a decade) Canada should be continuing to show top level support for the exercise of democracy in the Americas, no matter what the will of the majority turns out to be.

It has not gone unnoticed that in the case of the recent Mexican elections where considerable grounds for alarm do exist over the possible manipulation of the vote count, Canada congratulated Mr. Calderon even before the Supreme Electoral Council in Mexico had made public its judgment on that closely contested election. There appears to be a double standard at work here which tarnishes Canada's image in the eyes of other countries in our hemisphere.

However, Canada can act quickly to redeem itself as Marina Valere, the Ambassador to the OAS for Trinidad and Tobago and the current President of the Permanent Council of Ambassadors has asked that a working group of the OAS go to work right away to produce a mutually agreeable resolution on the matter.

We ask for a full explanation of the rationale of the position taken by Canada, and we call on Canada through the offices of the Canadian Ambassador to the OAS, to correct this outrage by immediately signaling a change of heart and allowing the standard protocol of a congratulatory letter to Hugo Chavez to go forward unchanged.




Rick Arnold. Common Frontiers-Canada

Copied to:
The Honorable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ambassador to the OAS Graeme Clark