September 09, 2006
Not The 9 O'Clock News - Conservative Conference
Respect is Earned, eh Liberals?
August 25, 2006 Edition > Section: Opinion
By ADAM DAIFALLAH
August 25, 2006
QUEBEC CITY — After years of inaction, in 2002 Canada's Liberal government buckled to pressure and added Hezbollah to the national list of banned terrorist organizations. Since that time, few if any elected officials have mused about reopening the issue.
But this week, during a trip to Lebanon sponsored by a Canadian Arab group, a Liberal member of parliament named Borys Wrzesnewskyj proclaimed himself in favor of taking Hezbollah off the banned list. Digging himself a deeper hole, he went on to compare Hezbollah to the Irish Republican Army.
Poor Borys. Normally, the fatuous musings of a relatively unknown legislator wouldn't garner much attention, even in the tiny world of Canadian politics. Unfortunately for Mr. Wrzesnewskyj, he was a victim of bad timing. It's summer, and there isn't much other political news to report. His comments were unequivocal: when asked if he wanted Hezbollah off the list, he reportedly replied, "Yes, I would." The optics also couldn't have been worse, seeing as he is a member of the party which banned the group in the first place. Mr. Wrzesnewskyj later retracted his remarks, but the damage was already done, and the resulting press storm led to his resignation as the party's deputy critic for foreign affairs.
This incident and the fallout from it have put the spotlight on a schism at the heart of the Liberal Party that has been quietly playing out for years — an internal squabble that puts into question whether the most electorally successful political party in North America can continue being home to large numbers of both Jewish and Muslim voters.
During its 13 years in power, the Liberal government rarely took sides on matters involving Israel. The rule of thumb at United Nations was to abstain on Israel-related votes. Since the Conservatives took over, however, Canada has been siding more often with the Jewish state. And in this latest war, Prime Minister Harper has lined up squarely behind Israel — even calling Israel's response to Hezbollah "measured." A key Conservative member of parliament this week compared Hezbollah to the Nazis.
All this has some talking about a potential realignment in Canadian politics, with Jewish support possibly shifting over to the Conservative Party. Looking at it from a pure numbers perspective, strong support for Israel is probably not politically advantageous. There are far more Muslim votes to be had in Canada than Jewish ones. So there is little reason to believe Mr. Harper is doing what he is doing other than he thinks it's the right thing to do.
But the move has reaped some benefits for him and his party that may have long-lasting consequences.
First, the Conservatives' pro-Israel stance has won plaudits from Jewish groups and earned converts from high-level, influential Jewish Liberals. One of the Liberals' best-known and wealthiest members, Heather Reisman, announced she has joined the Conservatives after a being a lifelong Liberal activist, as has Robert Lantos, a well-known Canadian film director.
Second, a deep and potentially irreconcilable divide within the Liberal Party has been exposed and continues to play itself out in the national press. The Liberals are in the midst of a leadership race after the previous party head, Paul Martin, resigned after losing to the Conservatives. The result is a lot of "freelancing" going on by party members. Two of the candidates vying for the top job publicly called for Mr. Wrzesnewskyj to resign over his comments, as did some well-known Liberal bloggers and commentators. Further anti-Israel comments from Liberals have been exposed in recent days. One Liberal youth official — who has since resigned his position — wrote on a blog that his party would be "stronger without these violent Zionists" and that history would remember Hezbollah "as an organization that stood up to the most vile 'nation' in human history."
There was even dissention from Israel supporters in the leadership camp of the purported front-runner, former Harvard academic Michael Ignatieff, after he came out with a mushy, equivocating position on the war. Now Web sites like libsforhezbollah.com and hezboliberal.com have been launched.
As with most political parties out of power, the Liberals are experiencing some nasty infighting. They are also uncharacteristically airing their dirty laundry in public, thanks also to some subtle goading from the Conservatives. But the root problem here is more serious: the Liberals are basically a catch-all, unideological party and will not take clear-cut stands on issues. They have both anti- and pro-Israel factions to appease at once, a chore proving more and more impossible to achieve.
Since the Conservative Party came to power in January, Canada has undergone a virtual revolution in its handling of foreign affairs. For the first time anyone can remember, Canada is taking clear, principled positions on important international issues, especially relating to the War on Terror. This new reality is a welcome development in its own right. If it forces the Liberals to confront their own incoherence on the Israel-Hezbollah war, so much the better.
Mr. Daifallah, a former Washington correspondent of The New York Sun, is a Canadian author and journalist.
Copyright 2006 - The New York Sun
Health Care Deserves a Better Future.
New York Sun Editorial
August 24, 2006
With the cost of health care looming as an election issue in America this fall, doctors in Canada are speaking out about their own system and voicing some serious displeasure. The latest sign is the selection this week of the head of Canada's largest private hospital, Brian Day, to become the president of the Canadian Medical Association in August 2007. Dr. Day's election is being viewed as a sign that Canadian doctors are getting fed up with socialized medicine. After all, their president-elect has been a forceful advocate for a greater private role in medicine and is technically a criminal, since the law bars clinics like the one he heads.
For any American politician who bothers to look north, Canada is a glaring warning signal about the dangers of a government-run single-payer system. On average, Canadians wait 17.7 weeks between being diagnosed with an ailment by a general practitioner and being treated by the specialist to whom the GP refers them. Waits on orthopedic procedures can be even longer. The median waiting time for hip and knee replacements can be as high as 54 weeks, with many patients waiting even longer than that.
One patient, George Zeliotis, got so fed up he sued the provincial government in Quebec for the right to pay for his own hip replacement at a private clinic and won in Canada's highest court last year, but change has been slow in the wake of the ruling. Quebec has tweaked its laws but still allows private care only for procedures covered by a "waiting-time guarantee," and even for those procedures patients have to wait as long as nine months before they can turn to the private market, just to prove they're waiting too long under the government system. The change also covers Quebec only — the court ruling is having little discernable effect, so far at least, in the rest of the country.
Canada's woes are not due to lack of money. Canada operates the third most expensive universal care system in the developed world on an age-adjusted basis. Rather, the system provides few incentives for patients to consume health care judiciously, fails to produce enough new doctors, and doesn't take full advantage of the doctors it has.
Into the fray will step Dr. Day. How much influence he will exert is still an open question. The CMA is not as much of a political force as the American Medical Association is in this country, and the group's 65,000 members are still divided on what should be done to fix the system. In electing such an iconoclast — to use the word of Sally Pipes, an expert on Canada's healthcare problem at the Pacific Research Institute and a friend of Dr. Day — Canadian doctors are sending a clear message that the status quo isn't working for them or for their patients. Whether or not Canadian politicians accept the diagnosis, American politicians would benefit from paying attention.
Copyright 2006 - The New York Sun
Recent Speech by Mark Steyn...Check it out!
... Very interesting and informative to say the least.
Ol' Borys thinks the IRA and Hezbollah are good things for the world...
This is seemingly what the people of Canada can expect from the other parties: terrorist-sympathizing idiocy.
BENT JBAIL, Lebanon - It would aid the cause of peace if Canada dropped Hezbollah from a list of banned terrorist organizations, according to two Canadian MPs now on a fact-finding mission to Lebanon.
When asked if he was in favour of Hezbollah being taken off the terror list, Etobicoke Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj said: "Yes, I would be." He likened the situation in the Middle East to Northern Ireland, where "if there wasn't the possibility for London to negotiate with the IRA, you'd still have bombings...."
"Hezbollah has a political wing. They have members of parliament. They have two cabinet ministers. You want to encourage politicians in this military organization so that the centre of gravity shifts to them."
New Democrat Peggy Nash, who represents the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park, said her discussions in Lebanon had led her to believe "that it is just not helpful to label them a terrorist organization."
"If the political parties in Lebanon who may disagree with Hezbollah, and be opposed to them and their philosophy, can figure out a way to work with Hezbollah and try to get along internally, then perhaps we should take a cue from that."
This was the message that both MPs said they would bring back to their caucuses, and eventually to the House of Commons, when they return to Canada later this week. Their visit came as Israeli armoured forces continued to withdraw from southern Lebanon Sunday, 36 hours after an Israeli commando raid in northern Lebanon threatened the UN-brokered ceasefire.
Maria Moureni, the Bloc Quebecois MP for Ahuntsic, is also a member of the Canadian delegation that forms part of a week-long tour of Syria, Lebanon and Egypt organized by the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations. Asked about her opinion of Hezbollah or its terrorist status in Canada, Moureni replied tersely: "According to the government of Canada, Hezbollah is a terrorist group."
Earlier in the day, after being taken to the ruins of a house in Qana, where 28 members of the same extended family had died in an Israeli air raid, Moureni, who is of Lebanese descent, criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper for supporting Israel during the war.
"This is Canada's shame," Moureni said. "Mr. Harper has given us a rather negative international image. We can see here that the attacks were (far) from being measured. The devastation is incredible."
As he met with Lebanese in towns such as Qana and Bent Jbail, that were badly hit during the war, Wrzesnewskyj repeatedly denounced Harper's support for Israel. "We are deeply ashamed that our prime minister had some incredibly irresponsible comments to make at the beginning of the war," Wrzesnewskyj told a group of Lebanese who had lost many relatives during the conflict.
It was the Liberals, not the Conservatives, who placed Hezbollah on Canada's terror list when they were in power. While acknowledging this, Wrzesnewskyj said: "When you realize that a mistake has been made that does not provide for a solution, you don't entrench your decision."
The NDP's Nash said Harper "had misread the amount of devastation that took place. What I am picking up here is that the time has come for a negotiated settlement, and it would be useful if Canada was a voice for negotiation. Canada's response was disappointing and bewildered people here. I feel just as badly for those who have suffered in Israel. It shows how futile war is."
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro, who represents Peterborough, Ont., pulled out of the trip at the last moment, citing security concerns. But Wrzesnewskyj and Mazen Chouaib, executive director of the Canada-Arab Council, both insisted that it was the prime minister's office that had scuppered the trip.
The Canadian parliamentarians were outnumbered by journalists during what was a long day that started with a visit to a suburb of the port city of Tyre, where several apartment blocks had been flattened by bombs. They were visibly shaken when they were taken to rows of freshly marked graves in Qana and heard graphic accounts of what it was like to be there during the bombing. Later, in Bent Jbail, widely regarded as the most resolutely pro-Hezbollah community in the south, the Canadian parliamentarians had a chance encounter with the local MP, Ali Bazzi of the Amal Movement. He provided a brief summary of war damage to about 90 per cent of the 1,000 homes and all of the schools in the town.
While "respecting the Canadian government's point of view," Bazzi said, "we see Hezbollah as the resistance, as freedom fighters" comparable to George Washington. As they travelled narrow back roads, the Canadians passed scores of homes shattered by the war and got trapped several times in chaotic traffic caused by the destruction of roads and bridges.
A $25-million aid package for Lebanon announced last week by the Canadian government will be put to immediate use to help the war-torn country, International Cooperation Minister Josee Verner said on Sunday in Ottawa. "As everybody knows in Canada, the victims of this conflict are the Lebanese people, and we have to help them as soon as possible," Verner said in an interview with CTV's Question period. The overall aid announced for Lebanon now adds up to $30.5 million in total. Verner said the money could be used to help rebuild homes, schools, clinics and water systems damaged during recent attacks by Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah.
Two Israeli tanks, their crews standing on top, stood silent watch on a hill overlooking Bent Jbail when the Canadians did a walkabout there. But the parliamentarians missed by a few minutes seeing a stack of Katyusha rockets prohibited by a UN ceasefire resolution last week being nonchalantly loaded into the back of a van by Hezbollah fighters in the nearby border town of Yaroun.
Wrzesnewskyj and Nash had paid for their trips to the Middle East or had them paid for by their parties, they said. Air tickets and hotels for the Bloc's Moureni had been paid for by the Canada-Arab Council, she said. "The Quebec-Israel people organize such trips all the time and nobody says its propaganda," she said. "It is normal to accept such an invitation." Chouaib said the trip was similar to many "organized by the Israeli lobby in Canada for politicians and journalists."
Wrzesnewskyj hoped to pay a visit to Israel before the end of the month. An NDP colleague was slated to visit Israel, Nash said. Meanwhile, after a cabinet meeting Sunday in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government rejected the inclusion of UN peacekeepers from countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Such a policy may make the work of those struggling to put together a force of 15,000 blue helmets to police the ceasefire more difficult. The only countries to volunteer a significant number of troops so far are the Muslim nations of Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. European countries such as France had indicated a willingness to participate in the force, but have been very slow to make concrete commitments because of concerns about the rules of engagement.
At a news conference Sunday in Beirut, Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Murr said anyone in Lebanon violating the ceasefire would be considered collaborators with Israel and dealt with "decisively" by Lebanese forces deploying to the south of the country.
When talking to a closeted "Collectivist" ...
---Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
A system of licensing and registration is the perfect
device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie.
Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?
Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.
To read too many books is harmful.
Since he is of no use anymore, there is no gain if he
lives and no loss if he dies.
Quotes from UN officials during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict...
Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
- Israel's "excessive use of force is to be condemned;"
- Israel has "torn the country to shreds... Israel's disproportionate use of force and collective punishment of the Lebanese people must stop."
- Israel is "apparently" guilty of the murder of UN soldiers. The UNIFIL soldiers were killed by Israel after it responded to Hizbullah attacks on Israeli civilians. One of the soldiers had reported only days before he died that Hizbullah's nearby actions meant Israel's response "has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity." Yet without any investigation Annan immediately called it an "apparently deliberate targeting" - an accusation he has yet to retract.
- Israel has "committed grave breaches of international humanitarian law" and "has caused, and is causing, death and suffering on a wholly unacceptable scale."
Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown:
- Hizbullah, the Iranian-proxy currently fighting Israel, is not a terrorist organization. "It is not helpful to couch this war in the language of international terrorism," said Malloch Brown, claiming Hizbullah is "completely separate and different from al-Qaida."
Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator:
- "The excessive and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces…must stop."
Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:
- In comments Arbour directed at Israel, she said: "the bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable," suggesting that Israel was perpetrating "war crimes and crimes against humanity" for violating the "obligation to protect civilians during hostilities."
Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict:
- In comments directed "even-handedly" to Israel and Hizbullah, Coomaraswamy "strongly condemned the repeated attacks on civilians, and especially on children, noting that callous disregard for the lives of children has permeated this conflict from its start."
Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF:
- Veneman claimed Israel is engaged in "the continued targeting of civilians, particularly children."
Agha Shahi, Pakistani member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
- "Would Israel have resorted to the bombing of civilian infrastructure if it were fighting a non-Arab force? It was a war between different ethnic groups, the Arabs and the Jews."
Jose Fransisco Calitzay, Guatemalan member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
- Commenting on events in Lebanon, Calitzay said "mass genocide was the highest level of racism that could exist, and they had to prevent that from happening in the present case."
Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr, Egyptian member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
- Aboul-Nasr "objected to the designation of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. Hizbullah was not a terrorist organization; it was a resistance movement that was fighting foreign occupation, just as there had been during the Second World War."