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Only good manners needed in "the Diouf incident"

1) Introduction

I recently became a member of the "Shadow Cabinet" for the Christian Heritage Party, as Critic for International Cooperation, La Francophonie and Official Languages.

2) The Facts

(All my information comes from Le Devoir newspaper for May 16, 2006, and the official web site for the OIF [Organisation internationale de la francophonie]).

Mr. Abdou Diouf, ex-President of Senegal, and current Secretary-General of the OIF, came to Saint-Boniface (Manitoba, Canada) for the "Ministerial conference on the prevention of conflicts and for human security", held May 13-14, 2006.

As head of the OIF, Mr. Diouf holds the rank of "Head of State". But Canada's responsible minister, Ms. Josée Verner, was not at the airport to greet him. From what I understand, Mr. Diouf was treated just as badly as me, last time I took the airplane from Québec City to Saint-John, New-Brunswick (he was forced to remove his belt and shoes by airport security guards, while being screened).

The Foreign Affairs Minister of Senegal read a statement at the Ministerial conference, according to which "this grave incident, the very contrary of international diplomatic decorum, has struck the conscience of the international community in general, and the African and Senegalese conscience in particular".

3) Some thoughts on this affair

I hope the media give as much airtime and newspaper space to the official Declaration of this conference, concerning what it was actually all about - prevention of conflict and human security - as they did to Canada's "affront" to M. Diouf. Some members of the Opposition are calling for Ms. Verner's resignation.

Apparently neither Ms. Verner nor Mr. Stephen Harper have yet officially said they were sorry. No matter how silly the incident, my Mom always taught me that if you offend someone, you should say you're sorry.

Frankly I had no idea the head of some obscure organization could have "the rank of Head of State". Had I been in the shoes of Ms. Verner, I would not even have known I was supposed to go to the airport to greet Mr. Diouf. So perhaps the Opposition should ask for my resignation, too!

4) Conclusion

Note to myself: If I ever get elected, and designated Minister of so-and-so, I will give the red carpet treatment to all unknown persons with long titles, and grovel in excuses, if for some reason, they complain. It's inexpensive, and it works.

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