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.
“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.