Stephen Harper has steered a new course for Canada in both domestic and foreign policy after the debacle of Liberal rule, but that has some opponents unhappy about the loss of Canadian neutrality in the face of evil. After the Canadian PM declared support for Israel’s right to defend itself against acts of war, two Canadian politicians bemoaned the loss of “honest broker” status that created:
“We all want to encourage not just a ceasefire, but a resolution. And a resolution will only be achieved when everyone gets to the table and everyone admits that recognition of each other,” Mr. Harper said, in a pointed reference to the refusal of Hezbollah and Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
“But I have to say this. I read in some papers somewhere that someone involved in this said, ‘Well, Hezbollah will protect, Hezbollah will take care of us,’ ” the Prime Minister said.
“Hezbollah’s objective is violence. Hezbollah believes that through violence it can create, it can bring about the destruction of Israel. Violence will not bring about the destruction of Israel … and inevitably the result of the violence will be the deaths primarily of innocent people.”
Mr. Harper brushed off suggestions his tough new language on the Middle East has compromised Canada’s ability to be seen as a neutral, honest broker in the search for Middle East peace, a criticism repeated yesterday by NDP leader Jack Layton, who said Canada should be pushing for an immediate ceasefire and the presence of an international peacekeeping force in Lebanon. …
“[UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan and the UN have proposed exactly that strategy, and it’s got to be something that Canada embraces enthusiastically, right off the start, not with this hesitation that we’re seeing from George Bush and Mr. Harper,” Mr. Layton said.
Interim federal Liberal leader and former foreign affairs minister Bill Graham echoed Mr. Layton’s statements, saying Canada is in danger of losing its role as a mediator and peacemaker in the Middle East.
Mr. Graham told a Vancouver news conference that Mr. Harper has moved Canada away from its traditional non-aligned stance, and said while he supports Israel’s right to defend itself from attack, he believes Canada needs to keep some distance so it can be part of a diplomatic solution to the Middle East conflict.
This demonstrates the kind of fecklessness that Canadians rejected in their national elections earlier this year. Layton and Graham would rather keep their mouths shut about the act of war committed by Hezbollah in order to remain “honest”. Honest? Would Canada simply call the UN if Russia or China raided Canadian territory, killed eight members of the Canadian army, and abducted two more? Would it roll over and agree to give the Yukon up and release all prisoners of Russian or Chinese heritage to get their soldiers back?
If Layton and Graham endorse that course, then let them say so. “Honesty” demands it. As for Harper, however, he understands that sovereignty must be defended, or it ceases to exist. Hezbollah invaded Israel and killed and abducted its soldiers. That isn’t a crime, it’s an act of war, and it should go without saying that Israel has the right to defend itself and to ensure that an aggressor has no more capability to conduct those kind of operations in the future.
A truly honest broker for peace would recognize that. Apparently, Layton and Graham have a notion of honesty which includes hiding one’s principles for the sake of grasping power. That may be one of the reasons why the NDP and the Liberals find themselves without it.