Sunday, August 10, 2014

Our Politicians Serve Nothing But Their Own Ambitions

Given the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, many in Canada have been dismayed, not by the predictable and uncritical enthusiasm for all things Israeli from the Harper regime, but by the relative silence or complicity demonstrated by the two major opposition leaders, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair; both have amply demonstrated that political expedience trumps principle in their cribbed set of values. By contrast, Green Party leader Elizabeth May has once more demonstrated that rareness of all qualities, integrity:

May denounced the three main federal parties for “parroting” Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions:

“It should be possible for all other political leaders to continue to press for a two-state solution, one that defends the right of the State of Israel to exist, but equally calls for a secure Palestinian state.

“It is simply not credible to take the stance of all three other leaders —Messrs. Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau — that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s siege of Gaza is legal and meets humanitarian standards. It does not. The death toll among Gaza’s civilians provokes the conscience of the world.

“Hamas is to blame for provocation, but to imagine that Israel is blameless is untenable. “

A Jewsih Canadian writer, Anthony Cantor, writes in today's Star about how such shameful compliance to a flawed Israeli narrative by people like Mulcair and Trudeau does the Jewish state no service because they conflate supporting Israel with endorsing the policy and strategic choices of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This leaves Canada’s pro-Israel, pro-peace constituency, among others, without political representation.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to push for a ceasefire is not unexpected. More concerning is the way that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and, to a lesser extent, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair have failed to counter the Harper government with a strong message that Israel’s best interests are not served by the assault on Gaza. As a member of the Liberal party, I am deeply disappointed that Trudeau resorts to platitudes rather than forcefully opposing a foreign policy that I and many other Liberals reject.

He suggests these 'leaders' should take some strength and inspiration from

other friends of Israel who recognize that the war in Gaza can only increase Israel’s international isolation and foster radicalization among Palestinians. President Barack Obama, for example, recently wrote an op-ed for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Obama correctly stressed that Israel’s Iron Dome can ensure temporary security, but only a comprehensive, negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can ensure Israel’s safety.

And yet Canadian leaders are silent as Netanyahu systematically undermines the possibility of a Palestinian state. Friends should not always tell each other what they want to hear. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, expansion of settlements and blockade of Gaza are major issues that drive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Resolving those issues would weaken the appeal of extremists such as Hamas.

Cantor writes a reasoned and convincing essay here. Unfortunately, the political cowardice of our current leaders means that in all likelihood, it will fall on deaf ears.


  1. Lorne, it is frustrating that world leaders are mostly silent on the slaughter of Palestinians by Israel. And our 'great leaders' keep repeating the mantra that Israel has the right to defend itself. Defend against what? The 'deadly' rock pieces that Palestinians kids throw at Israeli soldiers who in return kill them. Hypocrisy is unbearable. Israel is the real terrorist.

    1. The mantra of Israel's right to defend itself is, in my view, LD, yet another example of the blunt, absolutist thinking that politicians use to sidestep the real issues here. Who is questioning their right to defend themselves? No one. The issue to me is the disproportionate response that Israel has made, knowingly and willfully killing almost 2000 Palestinians in this latest round of hostilities.

  2. Lorne, I parted company with the Liberal Party during Ignatieff's march to the right. At first I thought I'd 'park' my vote with the Greens. Then, as I became familiar with the Green Party's quite open platform, I realized this party alone reflected my views and focused on my concerns from the environment to media concentration to inequality. I think many progressive Liberals would do well to take a hard look at the Green Party. The same holds true for many New Democrats.

    1. Point well-taken, Mound. Unfortunately, and I have to list myself among them, many see little value in voting for the Greens because they will always be a minority party. Of course, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I don't know how one changes that, especially in these times when there is a hunger to rid Canada of Harper even though, as you have pointed out, neither the Liberals nor the NDP offer any real policy alternatives.

    2. My conscience requires me to vote for someone with integrity, with respect for scientific knowledge tempered with compassion for all life on this planet. The closest to this ideal in Canada is the Green Party. I would feel foolish to vote for Liberals or NDP and then have them continue to support the same irrational, selfish, destructive corporate policies that the Cons are forcing on us.

    3. I respect your position completely, Al; I admit that my choice to vote for a mainstream party does entail a compromise of principles, but such is my aversion to the present administration that I can think of little else but to work toward its deposition at the earliest possible opportunity.

    4. I don't believe that there is a way forward for Canada under Liberal or New Democrat administration. They would simply be a more palatable rendition of what we have now. We also don't have a lot of time for change.

      Consider this. Environmental degradation runs apace and disruptive climate change impacts may be upon us far sooner than anyone had foreseen. When those things happen who will the voting public turn to? In my assessment that will be the Greens. They're the only party that has put forward a coherent, sensible platform to respond to what's coming, to rehabilitate our middle class and restore social cohesion and to rebuild our democracy. These things are far too important not to fight to build the Green Party in the next election or two. Their day is coming. It's virtually ordained.

    5. As a regular reader of your posts, Mound, I am well aware of and completely concur with your assessment of the urgent need to immediately act on climate change. However, given the fracturing of the vote that already takes place, I just can't bear the thought of contributing to it even more and possibly allowing Harper to sneak back in. I agree that the Greens offer the only real policy choices to deal with this impending catastrophe, but I just can't vote for them for the above-stated reason.

  3. .. the only constant is change ..

    Canadians certainly have no idea what massive shocking political changes may be just around the corner, lurking in a disconnected email server or thumb drive.

    Could the Hysterical Haper Party of Canada implode tomorrow? Certainly.
    Or Tom Mulcair decide he's a Liberal, again.. Why not?
    Maybe Justin will go spend more time with his family.. possible, not probable
    What if the Green Party was flooded by exemplars as candidates?

    What if millions of ordinary Canadians become disgusted on finding their Prime Minister is spying on them and denying it? Or Duffy blows him out of the water?

    Things keep changing .. and even the so called self styled genius from Toronto, Stephen Harper can't juggle all the deceits, denials, failures, obstructions, incompetence, arrogance.. After all, its complicated trying to fool an entire country, and all of the people, and yourself, all of the time

    My view remains, that Harper is readying a hysterical retreat, complete with another dirtbag prorogue manouvre. On the advice of his medical team he will assume an elder statesman role, guiding The Harper Governments evolution to a new leader. He will move to Geneva or London with Ray Novak and Stephen Lecce. Extensive Directorships in the field of 'Energy' of course, plus eminent Economic fellowships.

    Harper always was and always will be a narcisstic hysterical controlling egotist.. What? Did you think he would hang about Calgary while his shameful legacy takes shape. No. Harper has always been about mythology.. monarchy .. mind games and himself.

    He's just not into us .. eh .. never was

    Hows that for shaking up the political status quo .. eh ?
    And where would that leave foreign policy re Gaza & Israel ?

    1. A very interesting scenario, Salamander. Certainly, his fealty to oil multinationals should earn him an exalted position when he 'retires.'

  4. Unfortunately a vote for the Greens is still a vote for the CPC at this point in time. But i hear your logic.