Canadian Arab News
|Pettigrew and Cotler test critical extremes
March 31, 2005
On March 23, two cabinet ministers came under fire for advocating policies that one way or another pertain to Israel. One criticism was justified; the other wasn’t.
Israel’s decision to build 3,500 more housing units on illegally occupied Palestinian land led Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew to offer this meek rebuke:
“Canada is disappointed by the Israeli government’s decision to build more housing units in the West Bank and urges the Israeli government to reconsider this decision. Canada calls upon both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to fulfill their reciprocal obligations under the Quartet’s Roadmap for Peace. Canada has repeatedly emphasized to Israel that these settlements are inconsistent with international law. This development runs contrary to the commitments Israel made in the Quartet’s Roadmap.”
Expressing “disappointment” is standard Canadian diplomatic-speak for: “The government does not approve of Israel’s latest act of criminality, but won’t actually do anything about it because the Israel Lobby calls the shots and we all want to be re-elected.” The most the government can or will do, it seems, is reiterate the illegality of zionist expansionism, regurgitate nostrums about negotiations, and then go back to sleep.
Now look at the language Pettigrew used last month in Israel regarding Palestinian conduct:
“For the Palestinians, as called for in the Roadmap, every conceivable effort must be made to stop terror—the infrastructure, the support mechanisms, the incitement that fuels and sustains it, the acts themselves.”
Imagine the uproar if Pettigrew had the balls to denounce “the infrastructure, support mechanisms, incitement and acts of Israeli terror.” As it is, Pettigrew’s mild chastisement brought out the standard hand-wringing and pious blithering from the Canada-Israel Committee:
“Given the traumatic sacrifices being undertaken voluntarily by Israel, one would think that Canada would focus its interventions on seeking reciprocity from the Palestinian Authority to maintain positive momentum, or at a minimum, to expressing support for Israel [for] taking some courageous and difficult decisions to advance peace,” said CEO Shimon Fogel in the Canadian Jewish News.
Leaving aside the sheer perversity of this statement and Fogel’s non-existent grasp of honest argument, the fact that the CIC said anything is weird. Pettigrew said the absolute minimum in defence of Canada’s position, yet even that was too much. If a member of the Jewish Lobby can get bent out of shape at this, then what of Canadian political sovereignty? Is stating the obvious not to be permitted.
Over the last year, zionists have forced the government to skew its foreign policy and United Nations votes to suit Israel. Despite denials of such a shift, the CIC’s petulance shows that the Lobby has the government on a short leash.
For justified criticism, we go to Canada’s most infamous oxymoron “Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.” He told a Commons committee reviewing the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act that Canadian citizens suspected of being terrorists should be subjected to preventive arrest if there is insufficient evidence to convict them. At present, non-citizens may be detained under a security certificate—a thoroughly draconian measure under which bail is denied, detention can be indefinite, and neither the detainee nor his lawyer may see the “evidence” on grounds of “national security.”
Under the Act, a citizen may be jailed with the approval of a single judge if detention would prevent an imminent terrorist act. Taking a cue from the British, Cotler wants detention options short of jail—“control measures” that would include electronic ankle bracelets and house arrest. Problem is, a kinder, gentler police state is still a police state.
Cotler, readers will recall, is a big fan of Alan Dershowitz, a propagandist for the “new anti-Semitism,” and a meddler in Canada’s foreign policy on behalf of Israel. In short, he represents the antithesis of justice. Interestingly, both the Globe and Mail and the Asper-owned Montreal Gazette roundly condemned him for this latest bit of Constitution mugging:
The Globe’s March 26 editorial began: “Canada is thinking of following Britain down a perilous road in fighting terrorism: ordering that terror suspects be placed under house arrest without charging them with a criminal offence. The idea smacks of a dictatorship. It would put civil liberties at grave risk for Canadian citizens. It is also entirely unnecessary.”
The Gazette’s March 25 editorial not only went after Cotler but after the Act: “Canada's record of dealing with suspected terrorists…should be enough for Cotler to throw the 2001 law out in its entirety, rather than embellishing it with further ‘less drastic’ powers...Arbitrary power of indefinite arrest has no place in the Canadian legal system.”
This latter fact should be self-evident, but the fact that it had to be said draws attention to Cotler’s competence to defend the rights of Canadians, especially Muslims. Already, Muslim immigrants are most likely to be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.
Adil Charkaoui, a Montreal resident originally from Morocco was arrested on a security certificate in 2001 at Dorval airport because he was “suspected of knowing someone”—presumably a “terrorist.” He was held for 21 months and was never shown the evidence against him.
On Dec. 10, 2002, an Algeria-born Ottawa man Mohamed Harkat was arrested on a security certificate and is still being held in solitary confinement in an Ottawa detention centre.
Presumption of innocence and equal protection under the law are fundamental rights in a democracy, but they are national security risks in police states. Cotler, as Israel’s main man at the cabinet table, wants to drag Canada down to the level of Israel and the U.S.
This was too much even for the Globe and Gazette. Pandering to Israel is one thing; turning Canada into Israel is quite another.