NDP cautiously differentiates itself from Tories and Grits on Palestinian human rights

dewar to nicholson on Susyia

As a federal election looms, Thomas Mulcair and Paul Dewar have taken positions on human rights for Palestinians in the last few weeks that differentiate them from both the Harper Conservatives and the Trudeau Liberals. Their statements are cautious, but positive. They will no doubt attract fierce criticism from the Israel lobby. More.

On June 29th, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar made public a letter he had written to Minister of Foreign Affairs Rob Nicholson on the the imminent destruction of the Palestinian village of Susyia located in the West Bank. Many Canadian human rights activists have been vocal about the wanton destruction of this village to make way for an expanded Jewish settlement. Susyia has also been the object of a call for support from the United Church of Canada. 

Barely a week later, on July 7th, Leader Thomas Mulcair wrote an email response to those who had asked him to speak up to defend those Canadians who had been arrested (and apparently tasered) by Israeli navy personnel as they attempted to take a ship to Gaza. 

“We called on Minister of Foreign Affairs Rob Nicholson to ask for updates and assurances that all was being done for the protection and safety of the Canadians on board. It is important that they would receive the necessary consular assistance to which they are due as citizens, said Mulcair.

He also referred to another official letter written by NDP Critic for Foreign Affairs Paul Dewar to Mr. Nicholson.Dewar’s letter reiterated the NDP position on ending the blockade of Gaza.

“This position is in keeping with the UN Security Council resolution 1860, which called for “unimpeded provision through Gaza of food, fuel and medical treatment, and intensified international arrangements to prevent arms and ammunition smuggling.”, noted Mr. Mulcair.

While the two letters may disappoint some Palestinian human rights activists who would have hoped for something more robust, they are significant because of the current political context. Mulcair is now actually eyeing the Prime Ministership, and his every statement is being vetted with a fine toothed comb. One can be assured that he will have had significant back pressure from CIJA and the Israel lobby on this question.

Despite requests from the United Church and others, I could find no comparable letters from either Liberal leader Justin Trudeau nor its foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau.

It would seem that the NDP is cautiously differentiating itself from both the Conservatives and the Liberals on this issue.


  1. I’m no longer with the Liberals.
    I, the Palestinians, and most of the Arabs that I know, will be backing the NDP.

    1. Vote for whomever you want. I don’t care if Arab Canadians back the NDP or the Liberals.

      The more important thing is to influence Canadians. If Mulcair is doing this, its because he thinks there are some votes to be gained. We have to make it true that the NDP or the Liberals will gain votes by taking a stronger stand in favour of human rights for Palestinians. In that case both will do so.

  2. Can you link to Mulcair’s email? The link now goes to Dewar’s letter only, thanks!

  3. Reblogged this on Peacing Stories and commented:
    Now that we know officially that a Canadian federal election will happen, Peter Larson’s posting is timely. Also, news from Susiya is encouraging, too, as Jewish Voice for Peace today forwarded the following from Rabbis for Human Rights and Free Jerusalem:
    “Thanks to the determined struggle led by the residents of Susiya, and the public pressure in which we all took part, we have come to believe that in the coming two weeks, there will not be demolitions in the village. At the same time, we will wait to hear about developments, and when the timing for a decision regarding the village’s future grows nearer, we will renew the public struggle.””

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