Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Statement from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the United Nations today

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the genocide of the Holocaust while inciting a new one against the Jewish people. The global community has a collective obligation to remind the world of what President Ahmadinejad stands for – along with his atrocious human rights record against his own people.

If we do not speak out – if we stand silent – we are allowing evil to triumph.

Boycotting President Ahmadinejad’s speech is absolutely the right thing to do – just as it was the right thing to do at the Durban Review Conference back in April.

I question, however, why Stephen Harper has refused to take action in Canada to hold the Iranian regime to account.

In the absence of Conservative leadership, the Liberal Party has taken the lead in Canada and around the world to hold Iran’s leadership to account for domestic repression, nuclear proliferation and state-sanctioned incitement to genocide.

In June, Liberal MP and Special Counsel on Human Rights & International Justice Irwin Cotler introduced Bill C-412, the Iran Accountability Act, which our party has endorsed. Professor Cotler’s global Responsibility to Prevent petition against the Iranian leadership, which we also endorse, was signed by 60 leading genocide scholars and survivors on the 60th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, including former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Canadian Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour.

For months, we have been pushing the Harper government to join us in this condemnation, yet they have been silent. Where Liberals have been leading by example, Mr. Harper hasn’t been leading at all.

Nor does today’s boycott of one speech excuse the Prime Minister’s absence from a special meeting of world leaders at the United Nations today.

While the rest of the world gathers to confront the global challenges of nuclear proliferation, respect for human rights, and climate change, Mr. Harper has silenced Canada’s voice on the world stage.

I continue to strongly urge this government to endorse Mr. Cotler’s Bill in Canada and his international petition that seeks to hold the Iranian leadership to account. Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Harper.