January 25, 2008
OTTAWA – The Conservative government must lay out its next course of action now that it has made the correct decision to pull out of the second Durban anti-racism conference, said Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae.
“We support the government’s decision to withdraw from preparatory meetings for the 2009 Durban conference. The first meeting was turned into a political circus, and became a platform for blatant anti-Semitism and an effort to make the very existence of Israel illegitimate. Judging by early rounds of discussion, Durban II will be no better. The world deserves better,” said Mr. Rae.
“But Canada’s commitment to fighting racism and intolerance in Canada and around the world is still very important and we must not remain silent about it. Now that Canada has withdrawn from Durban, the government must set out an alternative course of action to try and bring international partners together in a different forum.”
During the first Durban conference in 2001, Canada made a point of strongly opposing any mention of the Middle East conflict, or any anti-Israel and anti-Western bias in the conference’s final declaration.
“Since the preparatory discussions for Durban II appear to be a repeat of Durban I, Canada can not possibly participate,” said Mr. Rae.
“But our withdrawal doesn’t mean the government can sit back and do nothing. We must continue to strongly advocate against racism and convene a formal process to set out a course of action to fight it. The government must also continue to fund UN efforts at combating racism.
“To do anything less would be irresponsible and would cast yet another blight on our international reputation as a leader on human rights and tolerance,” said Mr. Rae.