Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Bennett Defends Israel

August 22, 2006

The Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP for St. Paul’s, is deeply concerned by the remarks of her caucus colleague, Etobicoke-Centre MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj.

In the Ottawa Citizen (August 21), Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj, MP for Etobicoke-Centre, was quoted as saying that he would support having Hezbollah taken off of Canada’s list of terrorist organizations and in the Toronto Star (August 21), Mr. Wrzesnewskyj was quoted as describing Israel’s actions during the recent conflict as “state terrorism”.

Dr. Bennett welcomes Mr. Wrzesnewskyj’s subsequent public statement in which he clarified that he believes that Hezbollah should continue to be listed as a terrorist organization. However, Dr. Bennett is very troubled to note that Mr. Wrzesnewskyj did not retract his comments regarding Israel’s conduct during the conflict.

In July, during the height of the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, Dr. Bennett wrote, “Our support for Israel, and for her right to self-defence, is a constant. There can be no indulgence of terrorist groups bent on the infliction of civilian casualties and the destruction of Israel, or of the states which support them. Yet every one in the region, including Palestinians and the Lebanese, must be confident that Canada will continue to work to understand their concerns and facilitate the search for peace.” Dr. Bennett stands by these comments, and hopes that both her constituents in St. Paul’s and citizens across Canada understand that Mr. Wrezenwskyj’s comments reflect neither her views on the Middle-East nor, as the Hon. Bill Graham reiterated yesterday, the views of the Liberal Party of Canada.

For this reason, she feels that it would inappropriate for Mr. Wrezenwskyj to continue his role as associate critic for foreign affairs. “Hezbollah has demonstrated time and again that it is an organization committed to the destruction of the state of Israel. Until it ceases to use tactics of intimidation and violence on civilians both within Lebanon and Israel, and until it accepts the right of the state of Israel to exist peacefully, the Canadian government should refrain from all dealings that will enable it to continue to destabilize the region”, she said.

As Mr. Wrzesnewskyj has been a vocal supporter of Gerard Kennedy’s leadership campaign, Dr. Bennett hopes that Mr. Kennedy will distance himself both from the remarks made by Mr. Wrzesnewskyj as well as anti-Semitic comments posted by one of Mr. Kennedy’s youth supporters on a well-read Canadian blog. Dr. Bennett feels the Liberal Party should be united in it’s message of condemnation of international terrorism and it’s support both for Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself and for continued progress in the peace process.