Kenney says no negotiations with terror group
Attacks comments in Lebanon by opposition MPs
Aug. 23, 2006. 04:36 AM
OTTAWA—Conservative MP Jason Kenney yesterday compared Hezbollah to the Nazi party, and argued that there should be no negotiations of any kind with the organization.
"We need to learn the lessons of history," Kenney said. "There was another political party in the past which had democratic support, which provided social services, which played an important role in the political life of its country — Germany in the 1930s — which was also dedicated to violence against the Jewish people."
Kenney, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary, said the world was wrong to negotiate with the Nazi party then, and it would be wrong to negotiate with Hezbollah today.
He called the news conference to attack comments made over the weekend by Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre), New Democratic Party MP Peggy Nash (Parkdale-High Park) and Bloc Québécois MP Maria Mourani (Ahuntsic).
While visiting Lebanon on a mission organized by the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, the three MPs said Canada should support discussions with Hezbollah, the Shiite group in Lebanon that waged a 34-day war with Israeli forces.
Canada has placed Hezbollah on a list of terrorist organizations and forbids contact with it. Wrzesnewskyj was initially reported as saying the group should be dropped from the list but he denied having said that.
"I’ve said all along that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and will continue to be," Wrzesnewskyj said Monday.
"Where I have difficulty is with the legislation that says a group on the list cannot be communicated with."
Kenney pressed the attack yesterday, saying the three MPs … "called for legalization, decriminalization of Hezbollah here in Canada, an organization whose explicit purpose is the destruction of the democratic Jewish state of Israel, and whose tactics in achieving that end are violence, including the violent targeting of innocent civilians."
Yesterday, the Canadian Arab Federation expressed alarm at statements made by Kenney and by Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay.
"By refusing to deal with Hezbollah, a political party represented in the Lebanese government whose resistance to Israel’s aggression is supported by 87 per cent of Lebanese citizens, Peter MacKay is parroting the Bush administration’s stand and is emboldening Israel to launch further wars against its neighbours," CAF National President Khaled Moummar said in a statement.
Kenney said the MPs had tried "to backpedal and duck and dodge" after their remarks in Lebanon were reported.
"But their words are clear, they’re on the record. They cannot skate away from what they said."
Kenney pointed out that Wrzesnewskyj is the associate foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal party.
"He speaks in that capacity for his party," he said. "Mr. Graham and his party cannot distance themselves from Mr. Wrzesnewskyj’s words unless they are prepared to remove him from that position."
Kenney made it clear that he did not think there should be any talks with Hezbollah.
"We don’t think there’s anything to negotiate," he said, arguing that the government of Lebanon was responsible for disarming Hezbollah.
On Monday, all three opposition leaders issued statements distancing themselves from the comments made by their MPs.