Too bad we can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube of your Prime Ministership
Katie Toth, Opinions Editor
On Friday, Feb. 11, 2010, people around the world cheered as history was made in Egypt. President Mubarak had been pushed to resignation.
After 30 years of enduring a brutal and oppressive rule, protesters had come together in the streets, peacefully demonstrating for five days in the face of violence from state police and inaction from the military. Finally, their non-violent, direct action had been rewarded with the opportunity to hold a stake in their own direction as a country.
The twittersphere blew up. People from every corner of the world celebrated.
And Stephen Harper said, “I think the old expression is: ‘They’re not going to put the toothpaste back in the tube on this one.'”
Harper’s response to people fighting to be represented justly by their government was confusing at best. What happened to his willingness to continue funding over nine years of Canadian occupation in Afghanistan for the sake of promoting Middle Eastern ‘democracy’? Do we only celebrate the democracies that we enforce, or the ones which work in our interest?
This mass, non-violent revolution had been a clear expression of the will of a united people. Christian and Muslim protesters had stood together in solidarity, setting aside differences of faith in hope for a safe, democratic future. While they took their stand, Egyptians also directed traffic, protected the Alexandria library, and formed human walls around the Cairo museum.
Harper’s response to this grassroots display of the power of Egypt’s citizenry, however, was one of discomfort and fear. Rather than trusting the people who had fought for a free and democratic elections process, he told Egypt’s current leaders to get the admittedly unstable situation under control: “get in front of it.”
“Make a bright future happen for the people of Egypt,” he said.
Maybe Harper should look at the courage and compassion the people of Egypt showed one another over the past week. It’s clear: the people of Egypt can make their future bright pretty much by themselves. They don’t need corrupt leaders to grasp hold of power, or get “in front of” their demands.
Harper had the opportunity to stand on the side of justice, direct democracy, and human rights. Instead, he chose to commemorate a historical moment by comparing it to a household hygiene product.
I’m disappointed, but I can’t say I’m surprised.