(photo credit: Courtesy)
OTTAWA – In a series of interviews with The Jerusalem Post at last week’s
Conservative Party convention in Ottawa, leading politicians from the newly
reelected Conservative government discussed support for Israel and Western
values, and opposition to the scheduled Durban III conference within Prime
Minister Stephen Harper’s administration.
NGOs to hold conf. to counter UN Durban commemoration
US joins Israel, Canada in boycotting Durban III
When asked about Harper’s
government taking the lead in rejecting the UN Durban Review Conference in
Geneva (Durban II) in 2009 and the Durban III event slated to take place in New
York City on September 21, Jason Kenney, the minister of citizenship,
immigration and multiculturalism, said: “Under the previous liberal government,
Canada participated at Durban I [in 2001], and I think there was a pretty broad
recognition after the fact that it was mistake for Canada to lend its good name
to that circus of hatred at Durban I.”
Human rights groups and the US and
Israeli governments said the UN World Conference against Racism 2001 held in
Durban was marred by rabidly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups’ protests and a
resolution that singled out and attacked Israel.
When “our government
came to office, we were the first country in the world to announce that we would
not participate in the Durban II review conference. We did so because our
assessment was that a repeat of the some of the most egregious aspects of Durban
I was likely... because countries like Iran and Libya were on the organizing
committee for Durban II, which was all we needed to know,” Kenney, 43, a
charismatic MP and gifted public speaker from Calgary, Alberta, said.
organizers of the Durban II conference invited all of the NGOs from the Durban I
event, including some of the most “egregious anti-Semitic” groups, and scheduled
meetings on Jewish High Holy Days, “presumably to limit the participation of
Jewish NGOs,” he said.
According to Kenney, Canada decided that the
Durban process was “basically irredeemable” and the “UN should drop it.” It has
become a “sick joke and sullies the reputation of the UN,” he
Canada was the first country to announce, on November 25, 2010,
that it will not participate in the Durban III conference in New
“Navi Pillay and her crew should stop the process and realize that
the poison at Durban I” has placed “the entire process under a permanent cloud,”
Kenney said. Pillay is the UN high commissioner for human rights and oversees
the Durban conference process.
“A conference that gives a platform to
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to advocate genocide is a sick joke,” and advocates of
Durban should stop defending the process, Kenney said.
He pointed to
Canada’s multicultural system as the “most successful model of pluralism” and
said Canada is always keen to participate in a legitimate process to address
xenophobia, hatred, prejudice and racism.
Canada has set a example for
the world on how “to deal with diversity in a positive way” and “the official
policy of multiculturalism is an example to other liberal democracies, he said.
Canadian multiculturalism rejects cultural relativism, Kenney said, citing such
“barbaric cultural practices” as “honor killings,” female genital mutilation,
and forced marriages.
When asked about Harper’s speech at the Ottawa
conference, Linda Frum, a senator representing Ontario for the Conservative
Party and a prominent journalist and author, told the Post
, “The PM’s remarks
that Canada is no longer in the business of ‘pleasing every dictator with a vote
at the United Nations’ produced some of the most ecstatic applause at the
Canada has a government and a leader with the courage to
uphold our values. The prime minister appreciates that those who would attack
Israel would attack all democracies if they could.”
Frum continued, “This
prime minister’s stance against moral equivalence clearly resonates with
Stephen Harper has said repeatedly that he will support Israel
‘regardless of the political cost.’ “But when put to the test at the ballot box,
there was no cost, because Canadians see the best principles of our society
reflected in the foreign policy of this government,” she said.
robust support for Israel captured international media attention at the Group of
Eight summit of leading industrial nations in Normandy in late May. He rejected
a mention of a return to the 1967 armistice lines in the summit’s final
statement. His position conflicted with those of, for example, US President
Obama and German Chancellor Merkel, who have said the negotiations’ departure
point to be the June 4, 1967, lines with land swaps.
Robin Shepherd, a
leading UK expert on European-Israeli relations, wrote, in a commentary in last
week’s London Jewish Chronicle
that Harper is the “most pro-Israeli head of
government in the Western world.”