Monthly Archives: February 2010

CPCCA Witch-Hunt Begins

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I started taking a look at this site and I’m astounded by the route that the Cons seem perfectly content with taking us on.

On the main page of the CPCCA website, the captions read:

More university presidents are being invited to testify on January 25th as well in order to gain a cross-Canada picture of antisemitism on university campuses

A polite description would be that this is neo-McCarthyism.  Deans of univerisities will certainly do their best to comply with the requirement of ‘testifying’ about any activities related to anti-semitism or potentially risk losing funding.

This is a shameful and dark day in Canada.

But why is this happening?  I appreciate and understand the need to avoid racism of any kind in this or other countries, but why the focus on anti-semitism?

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but personally feel that the Cons have a tendency to think strategically and seem to rarely do something simply because it’s the right thing to do.  So why the big panel to ‘combat’ anti-semitism?  Is it so that they can depreciate the actions of anyone (individual or political party) that takes a stand in support of Palestine or other areas in the Middle East?  Is it because they feel the Liberal financial base used to depend on the Jewish vote and they want to erode that (see this CBC investigation for details about this)?  Or is simply because the Cons believe in ‘End Times’ and they want their stake in the Promised Land?

I honestly don’t know.

More can be found here: http://seriouslyfreespeech.wordpress.com/

And here’s the full text of an article with the Socialist Project:

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism:

What It Means For Canadians

Joanne Naiman

We are here tonight primarily to hear about the effects of an illegal occupation and war on the people of Gaza, and to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people. In the anti-apartheid movement, a popular slogan was the old Wobbly saying “An injury to one is an injury to all.” What I hope to show you tonight is that, indeed, the “injuries” affecting people half way around the world are about to have serious consequences for us all.

Specifically, I’m going to talk about the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA),[1] which has been meeting in Ottawa since last fall, and is now meeting through February. “What Coalition?” you may be asking yourselves. Exactly: this entity has been almost totally out of the public eye since its inception. While many Canadians have expressed dismay about the recent prorogation of Parliament, few are aware of a committee whose main aim is, to quote one critic, “an attempt to curtail freedom of speech and academic freedom across Canada, and to possibly criminalize certain kinds of human rights discourse.”[2]

Committee Without Authority

What, exactly, is the CPCCA? The Canadian House of Commons regularly sets up parliamentary committees to study particular subjects and make recommendations back to parliament. In the case of the CPCCA, however, this procedure was totally circumvented, and despite its name, this entity has no authority from parliament as a whole, despite being made up of 22 MPs from all four parties currently sitting in the House of Commons. The two key players in setting up the CPCCA (and who are ex-officio members of its Steering Committee) are Irwin Cotler – a lawyer, past president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and former Liberal Justice Minister – and Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

In March of 2009, Kenney – who has been described by Murray Dobbin as “point man for Stephen Harper on issues involving Israel” – banned British MP George Galloway from entering Canada, almost certainly because he’d just led a humanitarian relief convoy to Gaza. He also recently reallocated funding away from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) because of its assistance to Palestinian refugees.

At a recent conference in Jerusalem, Kenny boasted of his government’s “zero tolerance approach to antisemitism.” As examples of this he noted the following actions taken by his government: (1) the elimination of funding to the Canadian Arab Federation (whose leadership he described as anti-Semitic and apologists for terrorism); (2) ending contact with “like minded organizations” [to the Canadian Arab Federation] such as the Canadian Islamic Congress; and (3) the de-funding of KAIROS, a church-led NGO agency, which Kenney (incorrectly) described as “taking a leadership role in the [Israeli] boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.” To further quote Kenny: “The existential threat faced by Israel on a daily basis is ultimately a threat to the broader Western civilization.” In other words, Kenney endorses an “us” vs “them” view of the world, a “clash of civilizations” that pits the Christian “west” against the Muslim “east.”

The other half of this duo, Irwin Cotler, is considered an expert on international law and human rights law. He has served on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and its sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Development, as well as on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In 2000, he was appointed special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the International Criminal Court. However, despite this background, he has a long record of supporting Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and breaches of international law. Cotler strongly opposed the Goldstone report, and concluded, “if there had been no Hamas war crimes, there would have been no need for an Israeli response.”[3] Cotler’s wife, Ariela, is a native of Jerusalem and has a longstanding connection to the right-wing Likud party in Israel, and two daughters have been in the Israeli military. Cotler’s views on antisemitism are clear: “Compared to most previous anti-Jewish outbreaks, this [new antisemitism] …attacks primarily the collective Jews, the State of Israel. …In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, ‘free of Jews.’ Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, ‘free of a Jewish state’.”[4]

The CPCCA emerged from the experience of a delegation of eleven MPs, led by Kenny and Cotler, at the London Conference to Combat Antisemitism in February 2009. The London Conference was itself an off-shoot of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). Working backward, the ICCA was originally co-founded in 2002 by none other than Irwin Cotler, with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior and former Deputy prime Minister of Sweden Per Ahlmark. However, this committee apparently was thought to be too closely tied to the State of Israel to be effective, and didn’t move forward. Its second incarnation – now distanced from direct Israeli involvement – met in London in February 2009, with funding from the UK government and a British charitable organization.[5] The underlying assumption and key premise of the CPCCA, even prior to hearing any witnesses (in line with both the ICCA & the London Conference), is clear from its website: that we are witnessing an expansion of antisemitism both in Canada and internationally, and its form is being referred to as the “new antisemitism.”[6] All three of these groups express an urgent need to combat this new antisemitism, especially in the media and in academia.

Is antisemitism in fact growing in Canada? I am a sociologist, and in the submission I made to the CPCCA in the summer of 2009, I made clear that all the traditional data used to assess the level of prejudice and discrimination toward groups – such as income, discrimination in hiring and housing, educational level, hate crimes etc… – do not indicate that this is the case. Does antisemitism in all its odious forms exist in Canada? Certainly. Is it expanding and intensifying? No. Nonetheless, and without any supportive evidence, the CPCCA website states that “the extent and severity of antisemitism is widely regarded as at its worst level since the end of the second World War” and “recorded incidents of antisemitism have been on the rise both locally and globally.”

Who is Funding the CPCCA?

The CPCCA claims independence from the government of Canada, NGOs, and Jewish community organizations, and that it “will voluntarily disclose all sources of funding.”[7] However, no one to date has been able to get any information on their funding sources. And this is no small organization: listed on the website are seventy individuals who have been or will be brought to Ottawa to appear as “witnesses” at their inquiry. The CPCCA received around 150 written submissions last summer. The hearings have largely been attempts to confirm the positions the CPCCA had from the outset. Many submissions disputed the CPCCA’s premises of a “new antisemitism,” and pointed out both the deficiencies and the dangers of such an argument.

This hasn’t stopped Panel Chair Mario Silva from saying:

“The breadth and depth of experience these witnesses have will do a lot to augment our understanding of the present situation and will thoroughly inform our coming recommendations.”[8]

To give you a true sense of the Kafka-esque nature of this committee, one of the first speakers to be called was Irwin Cotler, while Jason Kenney is one of the last. Clearly, this Coalition knew where it was headed from the day it sent out its first call for submissions. The rest has been pure window dressing.

It’s not hard to see that if one accepts Cotler’s premise that Israel is what he calls “the collective Jew,” then any criticism of the state of Israel is, de facto, anti-Semitic. There can be little doubt, therefore, that this Coalition will soon be putting forward recommendations to the government that certain criticisms of the State of Israel within Canadian universities and in the media should be defined as a form of antisemitism, and therefore an incitement to hatred. Thus, in the strange Alice-in-Wonderland world we’re now in, those who stand up and charge Israel (correctly) with gross violations of both the Geneva Conventions and of international humanitarian law may soon find themselves charged under section 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code and section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, or else silenced by judicial warrants of seizure issued under section 320 of the Criminal Code.[9] We can assume that this would include calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), as well as using the term “apartheid” to describe the actions of the Israeli state.

Given Jason Kenney’s recent comments in Israel, it is clear that the CPCCA anticipates a very attentive and rapid response from the Canadian government. In his December 16 speech in Jerusalem mentioned earlier, he noted the presence in the audience of Irwin Cotler, as well as Scott Reid and Mario Silva, the Co-Chairs of the CPCCA, and concluded by saying “that we can offer some useful reference points and best practices to share with the rest of the world and parliamentarians who share our concern about the new antisemitism.”[10] Put plainly, the CPCCA is a front for what is effectively a done deal, with four federal parties as willing participants. It is also clear that Canada is to be a testing ground for what is being planned for other international jurisdictions.

New McCarthyism

Without a doubt, the main purpose of this redefinition of antisemitism is to create a serious chill on university campuses and in the media. Teachers will be afraid to discuss Israeli policies in their classrooms, while the various Israeli Apartheid Weeks will be prohibited by administrations on campuses across the country for fear of being charged with inciting hate crimes. Likewise, articles critical of Israeli government policies or actions (as rare as they are) will likely disappear from the print and electronic media. It is possible that websites could be shut down.

Organizations critical of Israel will be unable to rent public venues for meetings. Already, I’ve heard that some Palestinian support groups fear they may be charged under hate laws. In other words, what we will be seeing – in fact are already seeing – is a new form of McCarthyism. For me, as a Jew, one of the worst ironies here is that – should such legislation actually come to pass, as seems likely – antisemitism will actually increase. As Bahija Reghai has noted, by equating Jews with Israel and Zionism, the CPCCA reinforces “the reductionist and false notion that all Jews are responsible for the acts of the state of Israel.”[11] It is worth noting that this past Wednesday (January 27), speaking at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to himself as “leader of the Jewish people.”[12]

I don’t think it’s too extreme to say that if the proposals likely to come out of the CPCCA become law, meetings such as this one may well be very risky undertakings in the future. I should also point out that, if this legislation comes into being, we will be in the bizarre situation of being able, in Canada, to stand up and roundly criticize our own government (for, say, something like prorogation of parliament or poor treatment of Afghani prisoners) in a way that we won’t be able to criticize a foreign government. Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

What to Do

So, here’s what can you do: first, start by taking a look at the CPCCA website (cpcca.ca), so you can see for yourself where this Coalition is headed. We are also asking all of you here tonight to write letters to your MPs and party leaders, which you can easily do via e-mail, expressing opposition to the participation of their party in the CPCCA – two Vancouver MPs, Joyce Murray and Hedy Fry actually sit on this committee, so if you’re in their riding it’s particularly important that you write them. However, since all four parties in the House of Commons currently sit on this body, none of them should be immune from our criticism. In your letter, be sure to ask for information regarding CPCCA funding. (Surely MPs should know who’s funding a committee they’re sitting on!) If you are connected to one of the federal parties as a volunteer or donor, or if you can speak on behalf of an organization, your letter would be particularly important. Also, check out the website of the Seriously Free Speech Committee (seriouslyfreespeech.wordpress.com) and keep up to date on this issue. And help us spread the word about the secretive and dangerous CPCCA by inviting someone to speak to your group.

As I noted at the outset, the term “solidarity” is not just about pity and charitable handouts. What is happening to the Palestinian people today will likely have serious consequences for us here in Canada tomorrow. However, history has shown that the degree to which governments – all governments – take away peoples’ democratic rights and freedoms to serve their own ends always depends on the degree to which we allow them to get away with it. Together, let’s insure that the current government doesn’t take away our right to free speech. •

Joanne Naiman is formerly Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University now living in Vancouver.


Footnotes

1. This paper will employ the spelling of the term “antisemitism” that is used by the CPCCA.

2. Michael Keefer, Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism. Waterloo, ON: The Canadian Charger, forthcoming in February 2010. Much of the general information on the CPCCA, and its legal implications, are taken from the introductory chapter.

3. Irwin Cotler, “The Goldstone Mission – Tainted to the Core (II),” Jerusalem Post (18 August 2009), available online at Understanding the Goldstone Report.

4. Irwin Cotler, “The global reawakening of antisemitism.” (Keynote address at the founding conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism). National Post on-line, February 21, 2009.

5. Information regarding Cotler’s role in the ICCA and the London conference is from Keefer, op. cit.

6. www.cpcca.ca

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Keefer, op. cit.

10. Ibid.

11. “Confusing politics and prejudice in the fight against antisemitism,” rabble January 6, 2010.

12. Globe and Mail, Jan 28, 2010, p. A13.

Category: Canada, Politics, Steve, Uncategorized | Tags:

Here Comes the Conservative Propoganda Machine

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Like clockwork, the Goebbels-like Conservative propoganda machine will be kicking into high gear over the next few days.

As Canadians are watching the Olympics (something I wish more of us would boycott), they’ll be pounded with ads from the Cons, err, ‘Canada’s New Government’.  The Cons effectively own CTV, given the volume of manipulative taxpayer-funded ads they run, and the CTV will be the source of most of the tracking of events for the Olympics.

(As a side note, as Canadians, we should all be demanding a stake in CTV given the millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on TV ads with this media monopoly).

When the ads come out, don’t expect any negative attack ads.

These ads will be all about touchy feely stuff, particularly the massive (and ridiculously unintelligent) tax savings being thrown around like silver dollars at a US bicentennial birthday party (believe me … it happened).

They’ll talk about Canada’s massive action plan that’s taking place across the country, even though most of it is repaving roads and changing a few doorknobs.

They’ll talk about how Canada needs to support our troops and how we need to encourage a safe, secure land free of terrorists.

They’ll talk about economic stability and their only hint of attack will be that we don’t want to use something as inconvenient as democracy to destabilize the country.

I’ll tell you what’s destabilizing:  Conservatives.

The province of Ontario and all of its municipalities are STILL dealing with financial shortfalls because of the Harris Conservatives, most of whom have been bounced out of provincial politics and who somehow stupidly got into federal politics.

What’s destabilizing is slashing a progressive and productive tax on consumption (the GST) by more than 30% from 7% to 5%.  Is it any wonder that we’re encountering structural deficits?  Jim Flaherty is entitled to run our country’s finances as much as Shamu should be running a sushi bar.

Think about it:  Conservatives have never been able to balance the books even though they claim they’re the ones for stability in rough economic times.  In the US, Americans acquired more debt under George Bush Jr. than all US presidents combined.  In the 1980s, the Mulroney government introduced the GST in order to finally stabilize the finances from fiscal recklessness.

But back to the ads.  I’ll tell you what they won’t talk about:

  • What they won’t talk about is how democracy is just a little inconvenience on their way to theocracy.
  • What they won’t talk about is how most Canadians can’t even benefit from these tax ‘incentives’ because you need an income before you can claim a deduction.
  • What they won’t talk about are the proto-Fascist knuckle-dragging Christian evangelists that are being parachuted into every single government department in the country, poisoning the public well for decades to come.
  • What they won’t talk about is how they saw the US coming and how they dropped the pants of all Canadians with their recent ‘trade break-through’ with the Americans.
  • What they won’t talk about is how they could care less about human rights if you’re brown, red, yellow, progressive or speak any other language than ‘Carbonish’.
  • What they won’t talk about is how world leaders won’t even shake Stephen Harper’s hand because he’s a massive liability to any politician.

But if you insist on watching, enjoy the games.

And get ready for the BIG BOO.

I Support My …

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The Yellow Ribbon campaign has always felt like military-driven propaganda to me and there doesn’t seem to be a better time to remind the world that I Support My:

  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Pediatricians
  • GP/Family Doctors
  • Police Forces
  • Fire Fighters
  • Garbage collectors
  • People that work in recycling centres
  • Policy analysts
  • Government page employees
  • Government librarians
  • Politicians (that’s right, people who are brave enough to accept a shitty pay base compared to what they could earn in the private sector and put up with constant public scrutiny of what they do)
  • Advisors and case workers that are employed with politicians’ offices
  • Public legal advisors
  • Coast Guard employees
  • Search / Rescue
  • Forestry Management employees
  • Bus and subway drivers
  • Statisticians
  • Programmers & web developers that help maintain sites for cities, provinces and the federal government
  • and the millions of other people that make my life better because they choose to work for the public.

I also support the United Nations  and Peace Keeping efforts and not NATO-lead military incursions or ‘first strikes’.

I Support ALL Public Employees and I don’t favour one group (the military) because they happen to represent ‘security’ and ‘safety’.  They do a swell job, but they’re not the only people that are paid by us.

When the Conservative Party of Canada endorses ads that literally throw any other politician ‘under the bus’ because they don’t jump to attention when people say ‘Support Our Troops’, one has to question why they insist on being so insensitive towards the rest of the world that works towards peace and reconciliation as opposed to war.  Alienating the entire public work force in exchange for what they see as a few political points is something that just shouldn’t be tolerated.

Moreso, the timing for the conservative minions could not have been worse to come out with a video that slams Michael Ignatieff and other Liberals (I’m sorry … I can’t find the original source).  They show a frustrating insensitivity towards the families and friends of many young women who may have lost their lives to a senior military leader.

As a reminder, the ‘Support Our Troops’ mentality is one that’s driven by Repulican sentiment in the US and is rooted in the American desire to conquer and dominate the entire planet.  As Canadians, we have neither the resources nor the desire to do so, so why are we being forced to invest so much in the war machine?

P.S.  I also support Peace On Earth.

The Big BOO

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In just a few days, Stephen Harper will likely be at the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

In response to his autocratic ways and near-fascist control of the parliamentary process in this country, I propose a simple idea:  The Big Boo.

All citizens who attend the games, whether it’s for the opening, closing or something in between, boo any Conservative that’s trying to leverage the Games to improve on their own status.

And save the Biggest Boo for our Grand Poobah, Slippery Steve.

Meadowlily Action (Against WalMart)

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Please see details below for an action item related to Meadowlily Woods in London, Ontario.

Now … this call to action gave me an idea:  it’s about time that we (ie. the people of the Earth) took Wal-Mart’s shit to their own front door.  It’s time we collectively proposed a nuclear power plant, a manure processing facility, a waste treatment plant, a PCB dump and a thousand other forms of pestilence and destruction that would remind all of the ass clowns in Bentonville, Arkansas how much they’re benefitting from the wholesale (or should I say retail) defilement of this planet.

I’d like the people of Bentonville to realize that it’s their turn to have to get a council meeting organized and that they have to assemble a rag-tag group of environmentalists and unpaid local councillors to oppose the magnificent force that we’ll call An Irate Planet.

Here’s an example of why I’m so ticked with this town:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/26/AR2005062600899.html

I can see all kinds of ideas materializing:

  • Various social pages and discussion groups discussing what we should dump on their doorstep;
  • A ‘mockumentary’ (a la ‘Yes Men’) that exposes the frivolity of local townies in Bentonville opposing the kind of crap that they sling on the rest of the world;
  • A letter-writing campaign to every inhabitant of Bentonville, pleading them to stop their company from assaulting the world with its tsunami waves of economic plight;
  • A group of musicians getting together to sing about how pretty Bentonville is compared to the rest of the world;
  • Maybe a work of fiction that showcases the reaction of a group of people in Bentonville finally coming to the realization that the more they benefit, the more the rest of the world suffers.

It’s time we all found a way to react in a unified manner rather than with fragmented and dislocated voices.  Wal-Mart will continue to manipulate councilors that have no dignity or moral code and who don’t care about the legacy that they leave behind.

What do you think?

And now … here’s the post about London, Ontario’s latest abomination when it comes to Wal-Mart:

CALL TO ACTION: SAVE MEADOWLILY WOODS

Wednesday, February 10th, from 6-9pm, the City of London is hosting a “Public Visioning Session” for the Meadowlily Area.

This will “provide a basis for Official Plan land use designations and policies to be adopted by City Council, providing a framework for Council decisions affecting future land use.”

More importantly the meeting will involve “the community and stakeholders“, which means the SmartCentres developers who work for Wal-Mart  will be able to push for the big box development they want to locate on the edge of Meadowlily Woods.

IT IS VITAL THAT PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT PRESERVING OUR FEW REMAINING ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT AREAS ATTEND THIS MEETING! WE CANNOT LET THE PEOPLE FROM SMART CENTRES CONTROL THE OUTCOME OF THIS MEETING.

The meeting happens at the Summerside Community Church, 1447 Commissioners Rd. East.

The formal presentation begins at 7:00pm, so I would strongly suggest arriving no later than 6:30pm.

You can learn more about this at: www.london.ca/meadowlily

and join the facebook group at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-ON/Meadowlily-Woods-Environmentally-Sensitive-Area/19676496874?ref=ts

Also, please help spread the word to others who want to protect London’s dwindling supply of environmentally significant areas.

Category: Uncategorized