Remarks by the Honourable Stéphane Dion
Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy Dinner
Feb. 6, 2007
Thank you, Stephen, for that kind introduction.
I’m very happy to be here tonight, as the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and the Official Opposition, to toast the Canadian Jewish community and the friendship between Israel and Canada.
I, with all Canadians, would be much happier if the aspirations of Israelis – to find peace and security in a world of differences and conflict – were realized.
Here in Canada, when the United Talmud Torah school is attacked in my riding of St. Laurent-Cartierville in Montreal – its windows broken, its library burned – it is an attack on the values of every Canadian. When even one Canadian child is threatened because of her religion, we all feel the cold breath of intimidation. We can only imagine the insecurity that Israelis feel day after day.
By that same token, when Israel’s right to exist is threatened, it is an attack on the values of every democracy. In this way, Israel’s fight for existence is our fight; her struggle for peace and security is our struggle. The concept of "Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof" – justice, justice shall you pursue – resonates in every culture.
That’s why the Liberal policy on Israel and the Middle East is based on seven core principles.
We will continue to proudly support, as a cornerstone of our foreign policy, the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. Because any attempt to question that right is inexcusable.
We will continue to call, as a second cornerstone of our foreign policy, for a two-state solution, and negotiations to that effect. Because peace calls for an independent, democratic and secure Palestine beside an independent, democratic and secure Israel.
We will continue to support United Nations Resolution 242, which asserts the right of states to be free from threats or acts of force. When the current Iranian government threatens to "wipe Israel off the map," we can have no illusions about the seriousness of that threat, and the need to confront it.
We will continue to condemn terrorism – from whatever source, for whatever purpose, in whatever form. Because we must never be blind to the difference between right and wrong.
We will continue to support the push for democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law throughout the Middle East. Because Canada can and must use its influence to play a positive role in the world.
We will continue to push for fairness in the United Nations General Assembly, including our support for a single omnibus resolution on the peace process. Because one-sided resolutions serve the peace and security of no nation.
And finally, we will continue to combat racism, anti-Semitism, hatred and intolerance. I know the pain of learning that another school in my riding has been attacked, as was the case last month with the Muslim École JMC. Every Canadian, regardless of faith, deserves the right to send his or her child to school in safety.
These are the policies of the Liberal Party of Canada. And I commit to you tonight that these will be the policies of a Dion government.
I want to thank Irwin Cotler, and all the members of the Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel, for being such a force in expressing and advocating these policies.
Last year, this group, chaired by Anita Neville and Senator David Smith, and including in its ranks Susan Kadis and Raymonde Folco, called on the Government of Canada to establish a fund that would help at-risk communities cover the costs of security in their places of worship.
I am proud to be here as leader of the party that has a human-rights champion like Irwin Cotler in its caucus. The party that created the Canada-Israel Friendship Group; that was so lucky to have Herb Gray as our Deputy Prime Minister; that put Hamas and Hezbollah on the terrorist watch list; that pushed for fairness at the United Nations.
Supporting the right of Israel to exist in a secure and peaceful Middle East is not a Liberal cause or a Conservative cause; it is not, and it must never be. It is a Canadian cause; it is the common cause of every democracy.
That’s why I am so proud to be here tonight, not just as a Liberal but as a Canadian, to toast Israel and Canada’s partnership with her.
Thank you so much.