Buried in a routine United-Nations budget appropriation for the Office of the Secretary-General back in November is an amount of $390,700. It was meant to finance Ambassador Robert Fowler's increasingly obvious "clandestine mission" to Niger.
The significance of the amount struck me at year's end after the apparently ungrateful Brenda Martin complained that she'd rather be back in Mexico than wintering on Canadian soil in Belleville, Ontario. I am sure that Ambassador Fowler and his companion, Ambassador Louis Guay, would gladly change places with her.
It was just last spring that the Canadian Government moved heaven and earth...left no stone unturned, to return Brenda Martin from a jail in Guadalajara, Mexico where she'd rotted for two years. The miserable woman got the media's attention by tearfully threatening to commit suicide if she wasn't allowed to return to Canada. Obviously there is nothing like a tearful suicidal woman to get politicians to act. In rapid succession she received jailhouse visits from the former Prime-Minister, Paul Martin. Conservative M-P, Bill Casey, threatened a boycott of Mexican tourism; and Prime Minister Harper's emissary, Jason Keney, committed the Government to action.
A couple of weeks after the Prime Minister spoke with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, the hapless Martin was on her way home. Excluding the jailhouse visits from politicians, diplomats, lawyers and flacks...the return flight by private jet alone cost Canadian taxpayers just shy of $90,000. In a blog post published on "Orato" at year's end, Brenda Martin complained from the comfort of her Belleville home that she hates winter..."believe it or not. Mexico was my life...I was comfortable." Go to Hell!
Meantime in a United Nations mission gone horribly wrong, Ambassadors Fowler and Guay, languish God knows where in West Africa. It is now closing-in on four weeks since they and their U.N. driver were abducted heading back into Niamey, the Capital of Niger. Official Ottawa's clamp-down on any information about the disappearances or any efforts to come to their aid and rescue speaks volumes of our incompetence and impotence abroad. I suspect that if American, Russian or Israeli diplomats went missing; the surrounding area would by now have been pounded back into the Middle-Ages. But not us...So sorry; excuse us; we don't want to bother...we're Canadian. Give me a break!
As a result of the generous backing of CIDA financing, at least two Canadian exploration companies, Samara Hill Gold Mines, owned by Ethruscan Resources of Halifax, and Samafo Resources of St.Laurent, Quebec operate gold and uranium mines in the rebellious Tuareg Region which at the center of this debacle. For whatever reason, If our government is paralyzed with inaction over securing the release and safe return of our diplomats to Canadian soil; maybe it's time to send the military's JTF2 Commandos on a rescue mission. The late lamented Peter Sellers as the bumbling "Inspector Clouseau" would likely have done better than the results we've achieved so far.