Toronto (July 29, 2006) –
On July 17 I called on the government to go beyond words and work through the UN to address the escalating conflict on the border between Lebanon and Israel. I made it clear that Canada’s efforts need to focus on the refusal of both Hezbollah and Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. These radical groups, clearly fuelled by money and other assistance from Iran and Syria, point to the biggest obstacle to peace. The suffering of the Israeli and Lebanese people cannot be allowed to continue. Israel has a right to defend itself. But the world and Canada have a role to play in preventing escalation of violence and stopping those who use violence and terror to threaten the right of Israel to exist. Further escalation is not in the interests either of the Lebanese people or Israel.
The Harper government has adopted a posture of non-involvement in diplomatic efforts. Mr. Harper also said this week there would be no commitment of Canadian forces.
This is irresponsible and inconsistent with the role Canada has played in past crises.
Canada needs to be a constructive participant on the world stage, not an indifferent spectator.
I again call on the Harper government to work at the UN and with allies to push for an immediate cease-fire and help develop a plan for an international presence on the border or on any supply lines that support Hezbollah with supplies of munitions.
Mr. Harper should reverse his position and begin to make use of the levers available to us. He also needs to seriously consider what contribution Canada can make to implementation of a plan developed with our allies.
It is our moral responsibility to provide diplomatic support to a peace process and a plan with such goals as stabilization and civilian reconstruction in Lebanon.