Monday, August 11, 2014

Thomas Mulcair Speaks

Noted recently is the widespread criticism that both Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair have earned by either their silence or their very timid comments about the slaughter in Gaza. While most Canadians have probably come to expect the reflexive uncritical endorsement of all things Israeli by the Harper regime, many have been disappointed to see that the opposition leaders, save for Elizabeth May, seem cut from the same cloth.

But whether due to political opportunism, political expedience in reaction to that criticism, or a late blooming of a conscience, Thomas Mulcair has finally said something that sets him somewhat apart from Trudeau and Harper.

Although a modest foray into the world of principle, Mulcair's piece in today's Toronto Star, entitled Canadians want balanced and principled approach to Mideast conflict, tries to establish his party's bona fides in the following way:

When four children playing soccer on a Gaza beach were killed by Israeli shells, like so many other Canadians I was touched personally and thought of my own grandchildren. No child — Israeli or Palestinian — should have to live in fear of such violence.

As Canadians, we don’t want our country sitting on the international sidelines — unwilling to help and marginalized by Stephen Harper and the Conservatives’ one-sided approach.

Mulcair treads very carefully in his piece, working to provide a very balanced narrative:

During the current conflict in Gaza, we have criticized the indiscriminate rocket fire and breaking of ceasefires by Hamas — and have been clear that Israel, like all countries, has the right to defend itself from attacks.

Israel’s right to defend itself comes with the responsibility to protect civilian lives — and we have criticized the unacceptable number of Palestinian civilian casualties from Israeli Defense Force attacks during this conflict. The horrifying shelling of a United Nations facility sheltering refugees in Gaza was completely unacceptable and a clear violation of that responsibility.

Although not much in evidence in recent weeks, Mulcair talks about the party's beliefs:

As NDP leader, Jack Layton argued that Canada must engage partners for peace in the region and take a balanced and principled approach. This is a vision I share. New Democrats — committed to social justice — understand that we must actively work for peace, not simply talk about it.

New Democrats have long been committed to a policy of supporting peaceful coexistence in viable, independent states with agreed-upon borders, an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and an end to violence targeting civilians.

So, take his words for what they are worth. A long-time political cynic, it will take more than an op-ed piece to convince me there is a genuine difference between the 'people's party' and the other two.


  1. Well we've just seen how much heat it takes to nudge this craven bugger.

    1. Well-said, Mound. Now it's time for people to keep up the pressure and extend it to our other craven 'leaders'.

  2. As a lawyer, Tom or Thomas (certainly, no Tommy) must have known that Israel actually had to be held to even higher standards in protecting civilians as it is the occupying power in Gaza. This point did not come across at all in his article. However, this article is a good start but it is probably insufficient to satisfy at least quite a few strong NDP supporters, I suspect. The latter would have expected stronger criticism of Israel's disproportionate response. But the heat must be getting thru to NDP HQ and it must be obvious that this issue could cost them a few votes lost to the Greens.

    1. I think your analysis is spot on, Anon. For too long now, it seems to me, the NDP has taken its traditional supporters for granted. Perhaps Mulcair is now starting to realize that is rather imprudent.

  3. Yeah, perhaps they fear getting "Horwathed" on this. With their numbers tanking, they should. At least there can be no lingering doubt that, when it comes to standing up for what's right, Mulcair, like Trudeau, is content to park his principles outside the door labeled "Expedience."