Bob Rae for UN Secretary General
By Tarek Fatah
Nearly every morning we wake up to the dreadful news coming from Syria. Dead bodies of children, throats slit, mass graves and a sectarian inter-Islamic fight that is a repeat of medieval monstrosities Damascus has witnessed since the 8th century. Thousands have died in this 21st century slaughter by a bloodthirsty regime and its pretty-boy dictator, yet we sit — unable to do anything.
On top of an inept U.S. president, we have a UN Secretary General who has neither the personality nor the persuasive character of some of his predecessors. I can imagine Ban Ki Moon sitting opposite Bashar Al-Assad wagging his finger, urging the doctor dictator to stop the killing.
Then last week while I was scrolling through my twitter feed from Syrian opposition activists, the breaking news that Bob Rae will not be seeking the leadership of the Liberal Party interrupted the flow.
I felt sad for Bob, who I have admired and followed since the early ’90s when I served on his staff at the Premier’s Office in Queen’s Park.
The fact that Canada will never get a chance to be led by a gentleman and a scholar, in the true sense of the word, was disappointing.
Robbed twice of the chance of leading the Liberal Party, he was now stepping away just as more knives were being sharpened by the backroom boys who have turned the once great hope of Canada into a private club of pompous self-righteous king-making puppeteers for whom control of the party is of more significance than the future of the just society envisioned by one their leaders.
Yet, as I read the news, I had a “eureka” moment. Bob Rae may never become the prime minister of Canada, but how about the world stage? How about Bob Rae as the next Secretary General of the United Nations? How about bringing back the qualities and personality of a Dag Hammarskjold back to the highest seat of authority in the world?
The field of international politics and dispute resolution comes naturally to Rae. During his sabbatical from politics, Rae was involved in a number of conflict theatres, most notably the Sri Lankan civil war as well as the Middle East.
Imagine Bob Rae in the current Syrian crisis. He would not have relied on the likes of Kofi Annan. He would have been headquartered in Beirut in touch with the Saudis, Qataris, Turks and the all-important Iranians. There wouldn’t be those puff ball denunciations and unarmed blue caps roaming around in white SUVs holding iPads.
Sri Lanka and the Middle East aside, Bob Rae’s international efforts have taken him to places where no Canadian media has any reach. For example, in 2007 he went to Pakistan to address the turmoil and the armed freedom movement in the troubled state of Balochistan.
Canada’s loss can be Canada’s gain if Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government takes the lead and proposes Bob Rae’s name if and when the sad term of Ban Ki Moon comes to an end.
Today if the UN has the audacity to raise questions about human rights in Canada, some argue we must leave the international body. I say we send a Canadian to the UN to show the best we have and why we are as a society what the rest of the world should aspire to be.
Send Bob Rae to head the United Nations to bring it back to its ideals.