Tuesday, July 18, 2006

One Hand Clapping: Organization Applauds Harper's Israel Position

PEJ News - Canadian entity, the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD), representing itself as " a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-denominational organization" says it "applauds Stephen Harper's clarity on Middle East Crisis." Surprising then, given the CCD's avowed interest in promoting peace and the spread of democracy, they would choose to support a man who considers the hundreds of violent deaths, thousands of casualties, and myriad human rights violations daily committed against civilians in Lebanon and Palestine at the hands of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) a "measured response" to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by alleged members of the Lebanon-based, Hezzbollah. Surprising until you scratch below the Canadian Coalition's veneer.


One Hand Clapping:
Organization Applauds Harper's Israel Position

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
July 18, 2006

Though on their website, the CCD broadly claims its pre-eminent concern for peace and democracy, a closer look reveals a narrow definition of those familiar pillars of western civilization, and overriding, ulterior motives behind the motherhood rhetoric.

Beneath the breathless bromides to Canada's "multicultural society," a "model" to the world, it quickly becomes apparent, the Canadian Coalition is less interested in bringing Canada's famed tolerance and democracy to the world, but rather in reshaping the country's foreign policy. The CCD are more interested in Canada providing cover for its "sister democracies," democracies like India, the United States, Taiwan, and Israel. They complain, Canada has "consistently failed" those paragons of human progress, but more has failed to join the attack against "our sister's" enemies.

The peace lovers at down at the CCD suggest Canada could do more to support "democratic movements" in Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, "Assyrians throughout the Muslim world[?]," Christians and Animists in Sudan, and Hindus in Kashmir. Curious, the CCD shares a lot of the concerns of its like-minded southern counterpart, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), home to so many of the so-called "neo-con" architects of U.S. policy in the Middle East since the ascendancy of George W. Bush.

"CCD commends the Stephen Harper government and in particular Foreign Minister [sic] Peter MacKay for bringing a new era to Canadian foreign relations. In only six months since its election in January, this government has taken steps to position Canada as a global leader in a pro-democracy foreign policy."

And why the "particular" praise for Mr. Mackay?

Some encouraging bullet points explain.

July 10 - Minster MacKay’s clear statement about the “culture of impunity that prevails in Iran” on the anniversary of the murder of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi by Iranian authorities;

June 21 - Minister MacKay’s expression of “disgust at the fact that Iran would choose to include … [Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi, implicated in the murder of Zahra Kazemi] in its delegation to a new UN body intended to promote … human rights”;

May 12 - Support for the defence of Canada by Peter MacKay and National Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor by renewal of the North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) Agreement;

March 29 – Announcement by Peter MacKay that “Canada will have no contact with the members of the Hamas cabinet and is suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority” following the election of a Hamas-dominated government to the Palestinian Authority;

Queer, the defenders of democracy applauding the suspension of assistance to the duly, and democratically elected government of Palestine. But again, maybe not so odd when considering the Canadian Coalition for Democracies includes only those democracies it deems "real."

Not a peep can be heard coming from the CCD regarding the attempt to subvert democratic governments in Venezuela, Haiti, or the United States (which Stephen Harper garners praise for his "mature and constructive relationship with..."). Nothing forthcoming on the Mexican election fiasco either, I expect.

The CCD's recent press release does get one thing correct; they say, "Many Canadians have been troubled by Canada's foreign policy."

Though Stephen and Peter don't deserve all the credit, Canadian foreign policy today bears little resemblance to what Canadians have come to expect over the last half century. And though the Canadian Coalition for Democracies is happy with Harper for the moment, they still have a long way to go to get to that place where they can finally rest, knowing their work is done.

How long it'll take is a matter for speculation; but we'll recognize it when we see in Canada a mirror image of the other great democracies, epitomized by the likes of Israel, India, Taiwan, and the United States of America.

Then we'll know the nation has reached its CCD destination.

Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News and hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

For a look at the friends who influence the thinkers at the CCD.

CCD Watch

Rabble.ca Babble string on CCD

Juan Cole on AIPAC

CDD Mission Statement: Exerpt - "We have failed to clearly and unequivocally tell those who seek a better life in Canada that they are welcome, but only if they check their hatreds at the border. The validation that past Canadian governments have given to tyrants and terrorists and their apologists has made it easier for them to deny freedom and spill the blood of innocents around the world. Tragically, some of that innocent blood is on Canadian hands."

Profile of CCD funder, Milton Shier

Links provided by the CCD

A video clip of Prime Minister Harper's statements yesterday on the crisis in the Middle East is at:

If you would like to comment on this statement or other topics relating to foreign policy, please visit our public message forum and post your comments:

For more information, please contact:

David Harris, Senior Fellow for National Security

Canadian Coalition for Democracies
PO Box 72602
345 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON M4W 3J0 Canada

Web: http://CanadianCoalition.com
Public Forum: http://canadiancoalition.com/
Email: admin@CanadianCoalition.com

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