Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Privilege: Content of Flyer

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the occasion to address the chamber on this important matter. I thank the hon. member for giving us the opportunity to address it here today.

 

    I am going to start by addressing the facts, because the hon. member indicated that he wanted this to be a factual discussion. So let it be.

 

    The Liberal Party was in government in 2001 and willingly partook in the Durban conference at that time, and continued to participate in that event after its hateful nature had become completely apparent and, in fact, after our party had clearly called on the government of that time to withdraw from the conference.

 

    By contrast, this government, the Conservative government under this Prime Minister, was the first in the entire world to pull out of the Durban II hatefest. All the other countries of the world followed us in making that decision.

 

    There is a clear and present distinction between these two approaches. The hon. member might not like that fact, but it continues to be a fact whether he likes it or not.

 

    I want to quote from the Victoria Times Colonist on this point:

 

      The continued presence at the conference of Canada’s secretary of state for multiculturalism no longer serves any useful purpose and, in fact, helps to legitimize what has become a propaganda forum for some of the worst anti-Jewish hatemongering since the Second World War.

 

    I am quoting right out of the Victoria Times Colonist for September 5, 2001.

 

    Mr. Speaker, we have a clear and very different position from the Liberal Party on the Durban process. The Liberals stayed with Durban; we left Durban. They have come up with some very strange and convoluted explanations for their position years later; but their explanations notwithstanding, we had the courage to walk out. We had the courage to stand alone and lead the world, and the world followed us because of that courage.

 

    Let us move to the second point in the brochure which the hon. member has identified, “On Fighting Terrorism”. It is true that this government was the first in the world to cut off public aid funds for the Hamas government elected in the Gaza Strip.

 

    When we made that courageous decision, we encountered opposition from the Liberal Party. Let me quote again. I have here from the Globe and Mail of March 30, 2006, a quote from the then foreign affairs critic of the Liberal Party, who went on to become its penultimate leader. He said:

 

      The government should, right away, commit itself to maintaining the $52-million in help. The social problems in the (territories) are awful, and, in fact, Canada should do more not less.

 

    Hence, cutting the $7 million would be a mistake in his view. The Liberal Party, under the leadership of the member who represents Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, indicated they would like to continue the funding of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. That is the position of the Liberal Party.

 

    I have the reference here and I would be happy to table it afterwards. I am quoting directly from the Globe and Mail.

 

    On the subject of the legalization of Hamas and Hezbollah in Canada, they are two organizations that are rightfully listed as terrorist bodies in this country today. Anyone who was here during the debate in the early part of this decade on whether or not to list those two organizations, would proudly and resoundingly give all of the credit for that decision to the current Minister of International Trade, who led the charge against tremendous resistance within the Liberal government of that day.

 

    One need only look at the exchanges in the House, where the then foreign affairs critic for the official opposition, currently the Minister of International Trade, had to rise to his feet on probably two or three dozen occasions to demand that Hezbollah be criminalized. He was confronted with the position of the then government that Hezbollah was a social program and not a terrorist organization.

 

    The Liberal Party collapsed under pressure from organizations across this country who support peace and oppose terror. I am glad that the party backed down under the pressure from the now Minister of International Trade. That is a fact. However, the Liberal Party did not back down entirely.

 

    Let me look at the positions taken since that time. On the matter of funding for Hezbollah, the Liberal member for Etobicoke Centre was asked point blank during his visit to the Middle East whether he thought that Hezbollah should be de-listed, that is, whether it should be legalized in Canada, and he replied, yes. That was the position of a Liberal member, a member of that hon. member’s caucus. These again are facts, and if the member does not like those facts, it is irrelevant.

 

    I will quote the Vancouver Province:

 

      When asked if he was in favour of Hezbollah being taken off the terror list, [the Liberal member for Etobicoke] said: ‘Yes, I would be.’ He likened the situation in the Middle East to Northern Ireland,

 

    That is in the Province of August 21, 2006.

 

    The evidence continues to pile up. I have here some quotes from the current public security critic for the Liberal Party, who is a spokesman on these issues for that party. He says in the headline of an op-ed piece, which he appears to have sent to his constituents:

 

      [The Prime Minister’s] pro-Israel cheerleading is dangerous foreign policy shift.

 

    That is a quote made on July 26, 2006 by the member of Parliament for Ajax—Pickering. I will be happy to table that as well.

 

    The following is another quote from him:

 

      [The Prime Minister’s] reversal of Canadian foreign policy and one-sided pro-Israeli stance is short-sighted, and dangerous.

 

    I note that the wording was very careful there. It was not just that he said that the Prime Minister’s position in support of Israel was dangerous, but also that his support for Israel represented a “reversal”, in his words, from the era of Liberal government. He is absolutely right in pointing to a reversal, because we take the opposite position of the former Liberal government.

 

    I will continue to quote this piece from the Liberal Party’s most senior spokesman on public security matters:

 

      At a time when Israel was bombing civilians and infrastructure around Beirut in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by the Hezbollah militia, [the Prime Minister] called the Israeli response “measured.” Even after a family of eight Canadians was killed by Israeli bombs in southern Lebanon, and the fighting escalated, [the Prime Minister] refused to back down from this statement.

 

    Once again, we have the most senior spokesman for the Liberal Party on matters of public security attacking the Prime Minister for his support of Israel. I will be happy to table all of those quotes.

 

    He went on to say in the same op-ed piece on a separate page:

 

      [The member for Ajax–Pickering] condemns [the Prime Minister’s] Middle East policy. Canada’s foreign policy has shifted over the years, but never before has it been so strongly pro-Israel.

 

    Again, those are the words of that party’s senior public security spokesman.

 

    In the summer of 2006, the same member for Ajax—Pickering said:

 

      Indeed [the Prime Minister’s] pro-Israel tone exceeded even that of U.S. President George W. Bush, who acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself, but also urged the Jewish state to be mindful of consequences.

 

    Thus he again he criticized the Conservative government and the Conservative Prime Minister for his support of Israel. I will be happy to table that as well.

 

    That brings us to the issue of the leader of the Liberal Party. The hon. member stood in his place and claimed there was a problem with the context. I have the context of the remarks made by the current leader of the Liberal Party with respect to Israel. It was during the 2006 conflict between the democratic State of Israel and the terrorist group Hezbollah. The current Liberal leader said:

 

      I was a professor of human rights and I am also a professor of the laws of war and what happened in Qana was a war crime and I should have said that.

 

    That is quoted from the National Post of October 11, 2006.

 

    In the Toronto Star on October 11, the same Liberal leader said:

 

      I believe that war crimes were committed in the war in Lebanon, I don’t think there’s any question about it, and war crimes were visited on Israeli civilians and they were visited on Lebanese civilians.

 

    In two separate quotes I have two separate citations of where he accuses the state of Israel of participating in a war crime. He may have changed his mind later on but when the pressure was on he took the position that Israel was engaging in war crimes.

 

    Again, the hon. member across the way may not like those facts. If he does not like the facts about his party, he can change parties but he cannot change the facts. That is the challenge with which he is confronted today.

 

    I will summarize these points by pointing to the following facts. Fact, the Liberal leader accused Israel of war crimes. Fact, members of the present Liberal caucus have marched with Hezbollah supporters. Fact, the former Liberal government refused to walk out on the Durban hate festival when they had the chance and when so many asked them to do so. Those are the facts about the Liberal Party.

 

     Furthermore, there are facts about this government. There are facts about the way in which the Liberal Party responded to this government. When the Prime Minister of Canada was the first leader in the world to cut off funds to the Hamas government in Gaza, the Liberals said that the funds should be increased. When the Prime Minister stood with Israel in its war against Hezbollah, the Liberal leader was calling Israel a war criminal and his Liberal caucus members were advocating legalizing Hezbollah. While our Conservative Prime Minister was the first leader in the world to walk out on the Durban II hate festival, the Liberals had stayed for the Durban I festival in that conference.

 

    Those are the facts. As a result, we as a party have been prepared to defend the positions we have taken and the decisions at which we have arrived. If the member across the way is uncomfortable with the positions that his party has taken, then I would encourage him to speak up against his party when it takes those positions. I think he is learning the discomfort that is often associated with being in a party that tries to talk out of both sides of its mouth on the same issue.

 

    I appreciate the occasion to address this chamber and I look forward to tabling all of the facts that I have shared here today.