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Canada’s Liberal Government Joins NATO’s War Escalation

By Roger Annis | A Socialist In Canada | July 15, 2016

Canadians who hoped the federal election last October 19 would usher in change to the aggressive, foreign policy of the defeated Conservative government are wondering what happened to their wishes. The transition in imperialist foreign policy from the Harper Conservatives to the Justin Trudeau-led Liberals has been utterly seamless, if not predictable.

In the Middle East, Canada’s support to ‘regime change’ in Syria stands. The Liberals stirred controversy during the election when they promised to end Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led military intervention in northern Iraq. But surprise: while the Liberals did carry out a promised withdrawal of the six fighter jets that weren’t doing much anyway in the skies over Syria and Iraq, they ended up tripling the presence of Canadian soldiers on the ground in Iraq, to approximately 200.

And the new government made unpleasant waves when it upheld the export permit approval by the Conservatives for the U.S. arms manufacturer General Dynamics to sell $15 billion worth of the armoured personnel transport vehicles it manufactures in London, Ontario to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia.

Sabre rattling by the new-same-old government in Ottawa has been expressed most fully during and after the NATO summit meeting held in Warsaw, Poland on July 8 and 9.

Canada and the NATO war summit meeting in Warsaw, Poland

The NATO summit approved a final communiqué which places the military alliance on a collision course with Russia. The communiqué voices NATO’s determination to escalate its threats against Russia, using the pretexts of an alleged “annexation” of Crimea by Russia and military intervention by it in eastern Ukraine.[1]

Clause five of the 138 clauses in the communiqué reads:

Russia’s aggressive actions, including provocative military activities in the periphery of NATO territory and its demonstrated willingness to attain political goals by the threat and use of force, are a source of regional instability, fundamentally challenge the Alliance, have damaged Euro-Atlantic security, and threaten our long-standing goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.

Clause ten details the alleged transgressions of Russia:

Russia’s destabilising actions and policies include: the ongoing illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognise and which we call on Russia to reverse; the violation of sovereign borders by force; the deliberate destabilisation of eastern Ukraine; large-scale snap exercises contrary to the spirit of the Vienna Document, and provocative military activities near NATO borders, including in the Baltic and Black Sea regions and the Eastern Mediterranean; its irresponsible and aggressive nuclear rhetoric, military concept and underlying posture; and its repeated violations of NATO Allied airspace. In addition, Russia’s military intervention, significant military presence and support for the regime in Syria, and its use of its military presence in the Black Sea to project power into the Eastern Mediterranean have posed further risks and challenges for the security of Allies and others.[2]

Ottawa announced at the summit it will send hundreds of additional soldiers to eastern Europe to join the latest NATO provocation: it will lead one of the four, new, proto-combat brigades being established by NATO in countries bordering Russia. Canada will land some 450 troops in Latvia.

Ottawa is also re-equipping its entire army, including its soon-to-be Latvia force on the Russian border, with anti-tank missiles.

Canada’s voice has been one of the loudest amidst NATO’s anti-Russia rhetoric as first the Conservatives, now the Liberals pander to the extremist minority among the estimated 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian origin. That pandering was on full display in Ukraine when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to the country immediately following the NATO summit.

Ongoing intervention in Ukraine

The Latvia intervention adds to Canada’s existing military presence in Ukraine. Since last year, Canadian, British and U.S. soldiers began an intervention into the country consisting, in the first instance, of training the Ukrainian army and extremist paramilitaries at the so-called International Peacekeeping and Security Center in western Ukraine. Canada has 200 troops in the country.

The military training is designed to improve Ukraine’s capacity to wage the civil war it launched against the populations of the Donbass region in the east of the country in April 2014. There, the large majority of the population rejected a violent seizure of power by a right-wing coalition of conservatives, extreme-rightists and neo-Nazis in February 2014. When the new regime in Kyiv sent soldiers and extremist paramilitaries to eastern Ukraine to quash civil resistance against the ‘Maidan coup’, self-defense forces were hastily thrown up and military conflict ensued.

Prime Minister Trudeau visited the military training center on July 11. His media entourage reported a disturbing insight into what the foreign soldiers are up to there. A July 13 article by the Canadian Press‘ Lee Berthiaume wrote:

Trudeau flew into Lviv in western Ukraine before driving to a nearby military base for a first-hand look at the work of 200 Canadian soldiers who have been training the Ukrainian army since last summer.

From a distance, Trudeau, his son Xavier and defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance watched through binoculars as a Soviet-era armoured personnel carrier led a group of Canadian and Ukrainian soldiers toward a wooden building. The air shook as the vehicle’s cannon fired several bursts in quick succession.

The troops then moved away from the vehicle and spread out in a line facing the building. Four Canadians followed close behind as the eight Ukrainians slowly closed on the building while firing their rifles before placing an explosive inside and setting it off.

The exercise was the type of attack those Ukrainian soldiers could soon be conducting on their own in the east of their country, where the army has been fighting Russian-backed separatists for more than two years.

Trudeau’s son Xavier is nine years old. It’s not known what the “building” in the training exercise represents in real life. Ukraine’s ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’ in the east heavily targets residential neighbourhoods. In addition to houses and apartment buildings, schools, daycare centers and even medical centers have been struck by Ukrainian tank and other artillery shelling. The ongoing reports of the Donetsk International News Agency document the havoc. (Latest report, dated July 11, is here).

Effective anti-aircraft defense on the rebel side is the only reason why Ukraine has not employed fighter aircraft against its nominal citizens, as NATO-member Turkey is doing in its civil war against the Kurdish population in the east of that country.

Earlier the same day, Trudeau addressed Canadian soldiers about their work in Ukraine. He said, “It has been a long time since Canada had to defend our valour and defend our territory. But we need to continue to work with those who are fighting for democracy and their territorial integrity.”

Trudeau voiced the usual NATO stories about Russia’s actions in the region since the Maidan coup. “Russia has not been a positive partner,” he told his hosts in Ukraine, speaking of the situation in eastern Ukraine. “It has not been moving appropriately on things like ceasefires and international observers.”

While in Ukraine, Trudeau also signed a “free trade” agreement with Ukraine. The agreement is unlikely to change much in the small amount of trade between the two countries. According to the Canadian government, Canada exported some $210 million in goods to Ukraine in 2015, including pharmaceuticals, fish and seafood and coking coal. Ukraine sent to Canada some $67 million the same year, including fertilizers, iron and steel and anthracite coal.

Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion trundled off to Latvia following the Warsaw summit to voice his own harsh language. He told a press conference in Riga, “A neighboring country [Russia] chooses to throw its weight around and cause trouble and international instability. Latvia and Canada, together with our NATO allies, answer the call both for strong deterrence and strong dialogue [sic].

“We will stay strong as long as the relationship has not been changed for something positive – as long as Russia is a troublemaker in the region we need to be strong together and Canada will be part of it.”

Dion said Ukraine, too, has been “confronted directly with aggression from our shared neighbour.”

What about the Minsk-2 ceasefire?

As with its NATO partners, Canada’s government tells lies when it comes to the ongoing violations by Kyiv of the ceasefire agreement for eastern Ukraine that was signed in Belarus on February 12, 2015.

Ukraine has failed to live up to all of the 13 clauses of Minsk-2. This was noted (though understated) in the aforementioned Canadian Press report when it said, “[Trudeau] called Russia’s recent actions in the region “illegitimate” and “illegal”, and voiced strong support for NATO members in Eastern Europe as well as Ukraine, despite rampant corruption in Ukraine and its failure to implement parts [sic] of a peace deal with Russia and the rebels.”

Ukraine continues its military attacks against Donetsk and Lugansk (the two former provinces of Ukraine which make up the historic region called Donbass). It does not recognize the elected authorities of the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and so no progress has been made on a political settlement, including a regional election. Prisoner exchanges have been very partial. And so on. (Text of Minsk-2 ceasefire here.)

Canada, the U.S. and the rest of NATO have nothing to say about Ukraine’s dereliction of duty with the ceasefire. On the contrary, they accuse Russia of failing to live up to the agreement, even though Russia, with France and Germany, is but a guarantor, not a signatory, of the agreement. As the Russian government has patiently explained for the past 18 months, only the Ukrainian government and the rebel side against which it is fighting can and should decide what happens on Ukrainian soil.

The criticism of Russia by Canada is carefully orchestrated to shield the true state of affairs. In 2014, following the Maidan coup, Russia stood by the people in Crimea and then in Donbass who rose up to oppose the coup. This is what has infuriated the NATO countries. According to their script, Russia is supposed to act like the other countries of the region and meekly accept NATO diktats. In this case, Russia was supposed to stand aside and allow an illegal, right-wing regime in Kyiv to wage a violent campaign against civil dissent opposing the new regime’s pro-Europe, anti-Russia and pro-austerity course to proceed. Oh, and Russia was supposed to meekly give up its historic, centuries old naval base in Crimea and turn the keys over to NATO.

The NATO powers are not used to defiance. They don’t like the “bad” example that Russia’s defiance sets for people or countries in Europe who may wish to battle EU-dictated austerity and violations of national sovereignty, as, for example, the people in Greece and, more recently, in Britain are trying to do.

The other large, longstanding factor at play in eastern Europe is the historic, U.S.-led drive by NATO to weaken and dismantle first the Soviet Union and now the Russia Federation. Events in Ukraine and Crimea have given the U.S., its allies and pliant media new propaganda ammunition to bamboozle world opinion and renew the post-WW2, not-so-cold-anymore war.

Media and Parliamentary opposition in Canada join the pro-war chorus

The obfuscation over Minsk-2 and the dangerous, ‘new cold war’ backdrop rely on a compliant mainstream media to dissuade questioning if not opposition by ordinary citizens. As in the U.S. and Europe, mainstream media in Canada does little or nothing to accurately inform the public of the true state of affairs in Ukraine and Crimea and the broader region. Instead, it is increasingly parroting whatever line emanates from NATO country capitals while adding its own unique stamp to the mix.

The national daily Globe and Mail editorialized on July 13 in favour of the Liberal’s latest moves. It wrote, ” The risk of a new cold war, let alone a third world war in Eastern Europe, is small, but Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and its thinly disguised subversion of order in eastern Ukraine, shows how willing President Vladimir Putin is to make serious mischief…

“The risk of leaving a whole set of countries [the Baltic region] virtually undefended would be most unacceptable.”[3]

The same compliance goes for Canadian Parliamentarians. A case in point is an op-ed commentary by Thomas Mulcair published on July 12 in the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest-circulation daily newspaper.

Mulcair is the leader of Canada’s social democratic party, the New Democratic Party, the third largest party in Parliament. He writes in the Star, “There can be no doubt Russia poses a significant threat to the people of Eastern Europe. In March, the United Nations estimated that at least 9,160 civilians have died in Ukraine since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.” Note the writer’s named starting date of the tragic deaths of thousands in eastern Ukraine: not the launching of Ukraine’s civil war (‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’) in April-May 2014 but the Crimea referendum in March.

Mulcair writes further, “Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown himself to be a volatile leader, not above searching for any pretext to escalate into violence.”

The op-ed expresses some unease with the decision of Canada to join and head up one of NATO’s projected combat brigades. Parliament has not been consulted, Mulcair complains. And he worries, “If military buildup becomes our only way of communicating with Russians, there is a real risk that falling into a permanent deterrence mode will lead to escalation and the re-emergence of a dangerous Cold War-style deadlock.”

But the headline to the commentary summarizes the essence. It reads, ‘Military-only response to Russia is dangerous’. In other words, a military posture against Russia is needed, yes, and so are additional measures. To wit, Mulcair says Canada should extend its sanctions against Russia’s economy. He urges adoption of a version of the ‘Magnitsky Act’ which was adopted in the United States in 2012 and which extended the freezing of assets and banning of travel by Russian political and business leaders. The law is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian accountant working in the financial industry who died while in prison in Russia in 2009.

Evidently, Mulcair has not viewed the new documentary film exposing the propaganda campaign behind the U.S. law. The film is titled ‘The Magnitsky Act. Behind the Scenes’. The Russian filmmaker began his documentary quest by presenting the accepted story of Magnitsky as a fighter against endemic corruption and favouritism in the Russian government. But along the way, he discovered a very different view of events in which the Russian government happened to be battling, not coddling, corruption, in this case by going after a set of foreign and Russian businessmen who had hired Magnitsky to manage their books.

Mulcair concludes his commentary with a repeat that it is “the Russian threat” which is at fault for escalating tensions in eastern Europe and that more than military means alone are needed to meet the “threat”.

Such is the state of official political opposition in Canada today on the Ukraine file, where ‘opposition member of Parliament’ means ‘compliant member of Parliament’.

Oppose war and militarism

Since last year’s election in Canada, the language coming out of Ottawa with respect to Russia has shifted ever so slightly. Stéphane Dion has been speaking of the need for “dialogue” with Russia. But nothing with respect to policy has changed. Canada is stepping up its military intervention in Ukraine and eastern Europe. It maintains the U.S. and EU-led sanctions targeting Russia’s political leaders and business men and women. It still calls Crimea’s referendum vote in 2014 to rejoin the Russia Federation a Russian “annexation”. It still accuses Russia of conducting a military intervention into eastern Ukraine.

The larger danger in all of NATO’s war posturing is the threat of nuclear war. Three of the countries ganging up against Russia are nuclear powers–the United States, France and Britain. Each of them are busily renewing and improving their nuclear arsenals, led by the estimated trillion dollars which the U.S. is slated to spend on new nuclear arms technologies, which it hopes might provide it with a cherished, first-strike nuclear capacity.

Progressive social and political forces in Canada that should be opposing the war posturing in eastern Europe have been largely silent. That’s because they have dug themselves into a hole during the past two and a half years by ignoring events in and around the Maidan coup in Ukraine or, worse, by buying into the NATO rhetoric of ‘aggressive Russia’ and ‘imperialist Russia’. Ignorance and prejudice about Russia, rather than factual analysis, rules the day.

As Canadians begin to rebuild an antiwar movement out of the ashes of the old, three key demands should come to the fore. One is to end the sanctions, threats and outright attacks by NATO and Ukraine against Russia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Two is to demand that the government in Kyiv implement the terms of the ceasefire agreement it signed in Minsk in February 2015.

Thirdly and fourthly, it is high time to renew two historic demands of the peace and antiwar movements over the decades which, sadly, have a new urgency:
Abolish nuclear weapons!

Canada out of the NATO alliance!

Notes:

[1] On March 16, 2014, the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and rejoin the Russian Federation. The vote was conducted by the elected, autonomous assembly of Crimea. The March 2014 referendum was prompted by the violent overthrow one month earlier of the elected president of Ukraine. Victor Yanukovych had received the large majority of votes in Crimea in Ukraine’s 2010 presidential election.

Crimea was annexed to then-Soviet Ukraine in 1954 by a decision of the government of the USSR in order to facilitate post-WW2 reconstruction. But the Crimean people were given no vote on the matter.

[2] Clause ten of the NATO communiqué introduces a novel concept into international diplomacy: not only do nation states and countries (or parts thereof) have “borders”; apparently, self-proclaimed military alliances have borders, too. Clause ten of the NATO communiqué refers to “NATO borders [sic], including in the Baltic and Black Sea regions and the Eastern Mediterranean”.

[3] With one exception–the Toronto Star–the entirety of Canada’s print mainstream media supported the re-election of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in the October 19, 2015 election.

July 15, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

No room for anti-Israel commentary in Canadian politics

By Hadani Ditmars | RT | August 13, 2015

It would seem the height of Orwellian doublespeak to eliminate a political candidate for calling a war crime a war crime. And all the more so if you’re a leading member of Canada’s New Democratic Party.

And yet that’s exactly what happened this week when Nova Scotian Morgan Wheeldon, an NDP candidate for the riding of Kings-Hants, was forced to step down when a Conservative troll found a statement on his Facebook page from 2014 calling Israel’s bombardment of Gaza a “war crime.”

I suppose that party brass doesn’t read much Orwell, or UN reports on actual Israeli war crimes in Gaza – but perhaps it should become required reading.

Especially if you set yourself up as the main ‘progressive’ opponent to the ruling Conservative Party, whose leader Stephen Harper carries on what is surely the creepiest political ‘bromance’ with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bar none.

And yet in last week’s televised leaders debates it was clear that while the two parties differ on the controversial Harper backed C-51 ‘anti-terror legislation’ the NDP and the Conservatives were duking it out for the pro-Israel vote. When Harper needled him, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair responded that “Israel has no better friend than the NDP.” It seems he was correct.

The damning out-of-context statement on Wheeldon’s Facebook page in the wake of Israel’s 2014 bombing of Gaza that killed over 2,200 Palestinians was this:

“One could argue that Israel’s intention was always to ethnically cleanse the region — there are direct quotations proving this to be the case. Guess we just sweep that under the rug. A minority of Palestinians are bombing buses in response to what appears to be a calculated effort to commit a war crime.”

While the UN itself has accused Israel of war crimes during ‘Operation Protective Edge’, the NDP cried foul, stating:

“Our position on the conflict in the Middle East is clear, as Tom Mulcair expressed clearly in the debate. Mr. Wheeldon’s comments are not in line with that policy and he is no longer our candidate.”

So that’s that then. Call a war crime a war crime on your personal Facebook page, and there’s no room for you in Canada’s ‘progressive’ party.

What has happened to Canada, and for that matter to the NDP? Their take-no-prisoners approach to criticism of Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank has recent precedents, and they all lead back to Thomas Mulcair.

In 2008, Mulcair led a caucus revolt against then leader Jack Layton when he criticized the Harper government’s decision not to participate in the United Nations Conference on Racism on the grounds that its mention of certain Israeli violations of international law was ‘anti-Semitic’.

Mulcair successfully muzzled NDP criticism of the January 2009 Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which killed 1,400 civilians, as well as the subsequent Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla, which killed nine.

And in 2010, Mulcair joined forces with the Conservatives and the Liberals in calling for the ouster of long time MP Libby Davies, (who has since resigned from politics) as NDP House Leader after her comments to a journalist that occupation of Palestine had begun in 1948.

While the NDP’s position is more than apparent to keen observers (as author Yves Engler notes, even NDP pioneer Tommy Douglas was an ardent Zionist), it’s odd that Israel has suddenly become an election issue in Canada in the midst of recessionary times.

Is freedom of speech completely dead in Canada? Can no one criticize Israeli war crimes without fear of repercussions?

It would seem that only Elizabeth May, leader of the tiny but scrappy Green Party, is free to speak her mind on foreign policy issues. Her candid comments have helped the Green Party usurp the NDP’s former role of ‘unofficial opposition’ to the ruling Conservatives. And indeed, after Paul Manly was barred from running for the NDP on the grounds that his comments about Israel incarcerating his aging father John Manly (captured with other crew members of a ship bearing aid to besieged Gaza) were of concern to the party executive, he joined the Green Party.

The general mood of muzzling any dissent against Israel would seem at odds with Canada’s allies. Comparing the situation here to say that of the UK – where Labour MP’s were asked to vote in favor of a Palestinian state, the prime minister was forced (via growing public opposition) to resign as patron of the Jewish National Fund and Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi chose to resign over the government’s policy on Gaza – makes Canada look backward at best.

In an international context, it would now appear that Canada has the least control of any G7 country over its own foreign policy. Perhaps even less than in the US where tax dollars go more directly to maintaining the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Bizarrely, no matter who wins the upcoming election, Canada’s Middle East policy now seems to be firmly based on Likudist agendas.

Hadani Ditmars has been reporting from Iraq since 1997 and is the author of Dancing in the No Fly Zone. Her next book Ancient Heart is a political travelogue of historical sites in Iraq.www.hadaniditmars.com

August 13, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The fallacy of corporate taxes in a neo-liberal context

By Michael Laxer | Rabble | November 23, 2013

“Make the corporations pay!”

It is a slogan that sounds good, and with which I would fully agree, under conditions where “corporations,” or, more accurately, those who control them, were actually paying. But this is not the case in the debate in Canada today where many on the left are falsely proclaiming corporate taxes as an alternative to increasing personal taxes, even on the wealthy, and seem to display little understanding that corporate tax rates have nothing at all to do with inequality socially and are not at all a tax on wealth or the wealthy.

When Thomas Mulcair juxtaposes his “plan” to increase corporate taxes as a “progressive” alternative to Toronto-Centre candidate Linda McQuaig’s previously stated notion that taxes should be increased as well on Canada’s wealthiest individuals, he is fundamentally juxtaposing McQuaig’s plan that might accomplish something to a plan that will accomplish absolutely nothing.

The essential fallacy of mythologizing corporate taxes in the present context lies in the fact that, unless you agree with the U.S. Supreme Court, corporations are not people. By definition, if government taxes a corporation, ultimately some individuals, somewhere, pay the bill. Corporations cannot pay anything, any more than a house you own pays its own property tax. Given that corporations can, will and must extract the money to pay their tax bills any number of ways, from increasing prices, to attempting to force down worker wages and benefits, to finding creative ways to reduce nominal profit (which includes actually increasing CEO salaries or privileges, which are a “cost”), in the absence of a campaign to dramatically increase personal taxes on the managerial and CEO class of corporations or to re-adjust social power relations through the threat of socialization of assets and/or price controls, the net effect of corporate taxes, in terms of income levelling, will often  be either zero or regressive.

It sounds radical, and is therefore appealing to centrists who wish to nominally appear radical, but its impact on inequality is essentially non-existent for the very simple reason that inequality is driven by disparities in the incomes that exist between individuals. Inequality is facilitated by corporations and corporate actions, but it is manifested in the difference between people and people alone.

This exact inequality exists within corporations themselves. Corporations are comprised, as a general rule, of workers, managers and upper management. Given the nature of the capitalist economy, the way corporations will seek to lessen the impact of higher taxation will not be at the expense of their CEOs.

It is not corporations who own multiple mansions, live lavish lifestyles or indulge in tremendous decadence, it is wealthy people who do so. The disparity between rich and poor is not between rich and poor companies, but rather between rich people and those living working-class lifestyles or those actually living in poverty.

Taxes on corporations, in isolation, separated from higher tax rates on the wealthy individuals who own, profit from and run the corporations, act as little more than waypoints to collecting taxes on corporate workers or customers.

“Progressive” politicians, New Democrats, Liberals and Democrats alike, like the corporate tax narrative when it suits them precisely because it does not threaten any actual people at all, whether it is Galen Weston or one of his Loblaws cashiers. They can claim to be holding the banner of redistributive justice high. To be defending the mythical “99 percent.”

Yet these taxes can only have an impact on inequality if you assume, barring personal tax increases, that corporations will pass the “costs” of higher taxes along, out of a sense of social justice, to their corporate boardrooms. This is, frankly, a counterintuitive and bizarre assumption for leftists to make.

They will not. They will, as they always do, make their workers pay.

We need to move beyond the false narrative of so-called “corporate taxes” as a solution under capitalism and, instead, to advocate for both a dramatic increase in personal taxes on the wealthy and the upper middle class with a corresponding fight to socialize corporate assets. We need to tie this to an entrenchment of union and workers’ rights and democratization of the economy.

It is time to actually make those who benefit from the corporations pay. By higher taxes on capital gains, by higher income taxes on the wealthy and managerial class, by inheritance taxes, by expanding the legal rights and powers of workers.

By advancing expropriation and radically new ownership models.

Until then, when it comes to understanding how to tackle income inequality and its consequences, it is the pre-by-election Linda McQuaig who was right and it is the desperate-for-power NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who is wrong.

November 24, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will a zionist fifth column commandeer Canada’s left-wing party?

By Greg Felton | March 23, 2012

Soon, the New Democratic Party will have a new leader. Whether it will have any meaningful political future is another matter. I’ve already shown that a Thomas Mulcair victory would formally complete the Israelization of Canada’s national political parties, thereby depriving voters of their last Canadian electoral option.

Lamentably, many delegates to the NDP convention seem oblivious to this obvious fact, including one MP with whom I spoke after my earlier column came out.

In spite of my presenting evidence of Mulcair’s dual loyalty, bullying, and pro-Harperite proclivities, this highly personable, well-spoken person managed to finesse, deflect, deny or rationalize it away. His responses were so effortless, so polished, that they seemed rehearsed, as if this weren’t the first time he had had to justify his support for Mulcair.

For example, he claimed that concerns over Mulcair’s loyalty are exaggerated or taken out of context, although how “ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances” could be misconstrued escapes me. He also quickly tossed off the bald assertion that, at any rate, voters didn’t much care about foreign policy—the exact same line I got from Wayne Moriarty, the pro-Israel hasbaratchik posing as editor of the Vancouver Province. When pressed to justify this claim, though, he backtracked.

At any rate, Mulcair had given him “written assurance” that he would respect the NDP’s current policy on Palestine, and that was good enough. The idea that this assurance was inconsistent with Mulcair’s earlier profession of zionist fealty, or that he may have just been manipulating him to buy leadership support, didn’t compute.

It wouldn’t have made any difference if I had told him that Mulcair’s co-campaign chairman is former MP Lorne Nystrom, now a director of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the the Israel Lobby’s main pressure group.

The most disquieting aspect of this exchange, though, was not the lame answers I got, but the fact that this person is intelligent and has had at least a basic education in the Middle East. He is not your typical hasbarat from whom one would expect anodyne clichés and cognitive denials.

So what does it mean for the future of the NDP if MPs like this willingly refuse to acknowledge a danger staring them in the face? Former leader Ed Broadbent knows all too well.

In a candid interview with the Globe and Mail, the former party leader launched a broadside at Mulcair for abandoning core social-democratic values for Liberalish centralism, and not being capable of maintaining unity among the party’s 101 MPs: “People should look carefully at the fact that of the people who were there [in caucus from 2007 to 2011] with Tom, 90 per cent of them are supporting other candidates than Tom,” said Broadbent.

Already, talk of increased infighting is making Broadbent look prescient, and this development invites questions of how long the NDP could expect to hold itself together under Mulcair. If conference delegates want a historical example of what infighting and a sudden lurch to the right might do to the party, they need look no further than what happened to the Progressive Conservative Party.

Brian Mulroney, a venal, temperamental, outsider was chosen leader at a convention in June 1983 for reasons that had everything to do with image and none to do with competence. The man he replaced, Joe Clark, was a highly principled MP who unfortunately lacked the political acuity to maintain his party in government, or hold it together in the face of concerted internal dissention.

Under Mulroney, the PC Party would follow a reactionary, right-wing economic dogma that was also ascendant in the U.S. and U.K. Reason and balance in foreign and economic affairs would give way to the uncritical embrace of U.S. militarism and Israeli “self-defence,” denial of Palestinian rights, lower corporate taxes, minimal government, and economic continentalism. Under Clark’s short-lived prime ministership, the party followed economic moderation, an independent foreign policy, and showed respect for Palestinian rights.

Mulroney’s two majority governments allowed him full rein to remake Canada in his own image. As such his time in office would be characterized by arrogance, corruption, sleaze and patronage, making him the most despised prime minister to date. (Stephen Harper has since broken that record.)

In June 1993, 10 years to the month after becoming leader, Mulroney retired from politics, the damage having been done. In the electoral rout that same year, hapless bag-holder Kim Campbell led the PCs to near obliteration—two seats. The rest of the party fissured into a Quebec Separatist Party (the Bloc Québécois) and a Corporatist Christian Party (the Reform Party), which would form the nucleus of the present-day Harperite party.

For all of his shortcomings, Clark was still favoured to win the 1984 election. Had the PC Party stuck with him as leader, it would likely still be around today.

Like Mulroney, Mulcair is a party outsider, though he does have political experience—a former Quebec Liberal who later tried to hire himself out to the Harperites. He also has a flash temper, and supports an alien ideology to the right of the NDP’s principles. Social democrats cannot be expected to coexist within the same party as centrist compromisers who would turn the NDP into an insipid Liberal-lite Party. If this were to happen, the Liberal-lite faction would eventually form a formal or informal union with the larger “Labour Zionist” Liberal Party, thereby reducing the NDP to rump status in the House of Commons.

If 42 other NDP MPs are prepared to vote for Mulcair, perhaps disintegration is inevitable, even necessary to revitalize the party. Under the late Jack Layton, the party began to lose focus and ended up sacrificing principle for political expediency, as the Gaza flotilla debacle proved.

Convention delegates will have to decide if the NDP is worth preserving, or admit defeat by embracing their inner Mulroney to let history take its predictable, destructive course.

March 23, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Support from Israel lobby for Mulcair NDP leadership bid raises serious concerns

Independent Jewish Voices | March 12, 2012

With voting underway to elect the new leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and just two weeks until the leadership convention, Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) has discovered information indicating that key players at the highest levels in Canada’s Israel Lobby are backing the candidacy of Thomas Mulcair.

IJV is a non-partisan organization and is not endorsing any candidate in the NDP leadership race. But IJV has a responsibility to highlight the fact that the positions of leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair stand out as more closely aligned with those of Stephen Harper than with the NDP on the issue of the ongoing crisis in Israel/Palestine.

The newly revealed Israel Lobby support for Mulcair’s NDP leadership bid includes donations from David Mayhood, a former chair of various fundraising programs at the United Israel Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto, an organization which raises millions of dollars for Israel advocacy and the “centrality of Israel” and partners with the Strauss Group, a company targeted for its questionable practices by the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement; and accolades from Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Canada-Israel Committee, who has called Mulcair ” courageous” for his one-sided support of Israel, because Mulcair has, in Fogel’s estimation, “consistently challenged the radical element that has sought to capture the soul of their party.”

Others contributions to Mulcair’s campaign include one from Brent Belzberg, past co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA); the endorsement of former NDP MP Lorne Nystrom, who is currently a board member of CIJA; a donation from CIJA board member Joel Reitman; and another from Alvin Segal, who is a board member of the Canada-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

The sums of money involved are not large, but “IJV’s concern is that these donations indicate the leadership of the Israel Lobby recognizes that Mulcair would be ‘an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances,’ as he himself put it,” says Montreal IJV steering committee member Fabienne Presentey. “As IJV sees it, Mr. Mulcair’s unconditional support for Israel could result in the NDP ignoring Israel’s violation of Palestinians’ human rights and its contempt for international law.”

Canada’s Israel Lobby is becoming increasingly centralized and undemocratic. CIJA and its allies represent the corporate interests of only a minority of Canadian Jews. But they provide strong, unquestioning political and financial support for everything Israel does. CIJA’s board members include Stockwell Day, a former senior executive at Irving Oil, and a variety of senior corporate executives and board members, as well as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Israel Defence Forces reserves.

IJV is deeply concerned about this high-level support for Mulcair’s leadership bid from Canada’s Israel Lobby. We believe that NDP members voting to elect a new leader should be concerned as well, as these latest revelations serve to compound the concerns already raised by previous reports from IJV , Rabble.ca , and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East .

Independent Jewish Voices is a pan-Canadian human rights organization that promotes the application of international law and respect for human rights as the basis for the resolution of the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine. While IJV is politically non-partisan, the organization seeks to ensure that our analysis is shared with those who are in a position to influence Canadian public policy. To that end, IJV is expressing its perspective on the unbalanced positions taken by one of the candidates for leader of the federal New Democratic Party with respect to this conflict.

March 13, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Canada’s social-democratic party be able to prevent a leadership coup?

By Greg Felton | February 1, 2012

On March 24, Canada’s New Democratic Party will do more than elect a new leader; it will face a test of character.

As it stands, the NDP is the only major national party not led by an avowed zionist. Stephen Harper leads a cabal of governing “Likudniks,” who value subservience to Israel above all else, and the interim leader of the “Labour-Zionist” Liberals Bob Rae, is on the board of the Jewish National Fund, an organization so criminal that it has been condemned in Israel as racist.

The NDP, therefore, is the only apparently Canadian governing choice that voters have, but even this modest fig leaf will be blown away if the blatant Israel-firster Thomas Mulcair becomes party leader. On May 1, 2008, he told Canadian Jewish News:  “I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances.” [my emphasis]

Does Mulcair mean to say that he “ardently supports” Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians, which includes torturing children, bulldozing homes, and keeping Palestinians near starvation levels as a matter of national policy? Do these constitute morally defensible “situations and circumstances?” Based on his abject endorsement of Israel, the answer is clearly, “yes.” The fact that all of the preceding are contrary to Canadian and international law, to say nothing of basic humanity, doesn’t faze Mulcair one bit. What a mensch!

How this walking advertisement for sedition found a home in a left-of-centre, social-democratic party is bizarre. The NDP, after all, still cleaves to the quaint notions that the federal government should defend the Constitution, uphold the rule of law, oppose military aggression, stand up for victims of human rights abuses, and generally serve the public good. Such high-minded ethical standards clearly distinguish it from both “Likud” and “Labour,” which are financially and politically indentured to the Israel Lobby.

So, why would the NDP even allow someone like Mulcair in the front door? This question takes on added significance when we recall that Mulcair had first considered joining Harper’s Likudniks, and was even said to have been tempted by a cabinet appointment. That would at least have made sense. When questioned last July about the earlier offer, though, the NDP’s newly minted interim leader Nycole Turmel seemed curiously unconcerned: “[Mulcair] was contacted by a number of people, a number of political parties and he chose to come work with us. He chose the NDP and I’m proud of that. He’s a great candidate.”

When looked at a bit more closely, however, Turmel’s praise for this crypto-Likudnik comes across more as a perfunctory platitude than a genuine endorsement; in this case the riding, not the MP, is the prize.

Mulcair represents Outremont, a small, wealthy riding on the Island of Montreal, which he won in a 2007 by-election, thus making him the NDP’s (ta-da!) first MP from Quebec. Outremont has a substantial Jewish population, more than 20%; in the larger Labour riding of Mount Royal just to the south, represented by Israel-firster extraordinaire Irwin Cotler, it is 36%. If the NDP expects to make inroads into Quebec it is logical for it to compete for the Jewish vote, but how far is the NDP prepared to go to mortgage its principles for electoral advantage?

As party leader, Mulcair would be expected to protect his caucus colleagues from harassment and abuse from other parties, but in 2010 he sided with Labour and Likud to call for the resignation of fellow MP Libby Davies as NDP House Leader. Davies’s “crime” was to state that Israel’s occupation of Palestine began in 1948, not 1967. Her statement is a fact supported by historical documents that include admissions from leading political and military Israelis like David Ben Gurion and Gen. Moshe Dayan.

Mulcair’s contemptible attack on Davies’s basic freedom of expression, to say nothing of historical honesty, showed Mulcair’s true allegiance, and the threat he poses to this country. It doesn’t matter if he believes the zionist bilge he spews or whether he’s merely pandering to the Jewish community. By rights, he should have been expelled from the party for his misconduct.

If you are reading this and are a member of the federal NDP who plans to cast a vote at the leadership convention, ask yourself these questions before you vote:

1) Can Mulcair be trusted to put loyalty to Canada and the NDP ahead of his loyalty to Israel?

2) Would Mulcair stifle his MPs’ freedom of expression in the name of being an “ardent supporter”of Israel?

3) Would Mulcair’s overt zionism irreparably debase the NDP’s reputation as a party of law and justice?

If you answered 1) no; 2) yes; and 3) yes, then you can proudly claim to be a member in good standing of a national, Canadian political party. You know what not to do on March 24. No matter how much you may like Mulcair’s position on the environment or any other issue, anyone who bullies his own people, betrays his party’s principles, and sells out his country is unfit to lead the NDP, much less sit in the House of Commons.

As I said earlier, the NDP appears to many voters to be the only viable Canadian governing option left in this country. Don’t force them into a no-win scenario among Likud, Labour and Meretz!

February 3, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments