Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Content of Flyer–Speaker’s Ruling

Madam Speaker, I want to say this for the hon. member. If the flyer had condemned Durban 1 as being anti-Semitic, I would have no problem. Indeed, as I have said elsewhere in the House, I have written and spoken as much about that as any member of Parliament in any parliamentary forum in the world. However, the calumny is that in a flyer, which compares the positions of Liberals and Conservatives, it specifically says that the Liberals willingly participated in the anti-Semitic Durban I.

 

Hon. Jason Kenney: They did. They did.

 

Mr. Leon Benoit: How can you deny that?

 

Hon. Irwin Cotler: The clear inference is to associate the Liberal Party with anti-Semitism. Let me just quote from what my wife wrote on this issue in response to that:

 

  —on the "Jewish" values issue, the flyer is a series of false and arguably slanderous statements….The flyer accuses the Liberals of "willingly participating in the overtly anti-Semitic Durban 1 [conference in 2001]," thereby associating the Liberals — and my husband — with support for anti-Semitism. That is condemnable on its own.

 

That is condemnable on its own, but the facts are—

 

Hon. Jason Kenney: They did.

 

Mr. Leon Benoit: Leave the party and you won’t be associated with that any more.

 

Hon. Irwin Cotler: I would like to be able to conclude without being—

 

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Denise Savoie):
    
Order, please. I ask all members to exercise some moderation and those who cannot wait until questions and comments to please leave the House. Otherwise, the member for Mount Royal has the floor for now.

 

 

Hon. Irwin Cotler: 
    
Madam Speaker. I will continue with what was written by my wife in the op ed:

 

  But the facts are: [the member for Mount Royal], along with representatives of the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith, remained at Durban 1 at the request of the Israeli and other governments to combat a poisoned atmosphere that descended into vitriol and hate.

 

Taking this matter out of context, as the hon. member did, let me repeat so that there will be no ambiguity and so that he does not misrepresent this again. All governments went to Durban because it was the first anti-racism conference of the 21st century, and we went there with the hope and with the view of condemning racism.

 

However, that conference turned into a conference of racism against Israel and the Jews. That is when we stood up, that was when we were asked to remain, and that is what we did. We were praised for having been the party that most condemned anti-Semitism at that Durban 1 conference.
 

To view the complete debate in the House of Commons click here