By arthur Weinreb
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Last week, in response to Michael Ignatieff's "Israel committed war crimes" statement, Stephen Harper accused the Liberals of being anti-Israel. Speaking at the Toronto Police association where he was announcing his "three strikes law", Harper said of Ignatieff's statement, "This is consistent with the anti-Israel position that has been taken by virtually all of the candidates of the Liberal leadership".
Harper clearly shouldn't have said what he said when he said it. Not that what he said wasn't true but it took the focus off Ignatieff and put it on to him. The timing of Harper's statement was, as Liberal candidate Joe Volpe said of Ignatieff's comments, "a rookie mistake". Then again there are rookie mistakes and there are rookie mistakes. The bad timing of Harper's remarks is akin to a batter trying to hit the long ball when he should just be trying to get on base. Ignatieff's rookie blunder was the equivalent of getting a hit and running to third base. and then blaming the fans for not understanding that he was really running to first and they are just too stupid to have realized this; the fans of course not being professors who have taught courses in advanced baseball at Harvard.
as soon as Harper's words left his mouth, you knew what the reaction of the Liberals would be; they would accuse the prime minister and his government of being "divisive". and the Libs didn't disappoint.
Leadership candidate Bob Rae came out swinging. "It's untrue. It's a big lie. It's a big smear...It's just a basically thoughtless, deeply divisive thing to say,...". Rae, as CFP columnist Beryl Wajsman pointed out in his column last Saturday, spent years arguing that being anti-Israel does not mean being anti-Semitic and yet trotted out all of his Jewish relatives as proof positive that he isn't anti-Israel.
Quick to add to the "divisive" allegation was Gerard Kennedy who said that Harper's politics was "creating divisions within the country and diminishing Canada's reputation abroad". Later in a television interview, Kennedy said that he was pro-Israel and pro-Lebanon. Had he gone further he undoubtedly would have said that he was pro-North Korea, pro-Hezbollah, pro-everything except of course pro-George W. Bush. He truly is a true Grit.
The Liberals were upset not because of the fact that Stephen Harper accused them of being anti-Israel but because he accused them of not being neutral; of not being the morally equivalent fence sitters that they are. The party of Wilfrid Laurier has become the party of Paul Martin Jr. Being neutral; never taking a side; never seeing any right or wrong; dithering rather than ever having to make a tough decision. Not ever taking a position (such as one on the Israel/Lebanon war) is seen as enhancing what they think is Canada's great influence throughout the world.
The Liberals are of course the parties of groups, not people. Having divided everyone into groups, they now have to insure that all of these groups are treated equally. They can't seem to realize that by their necessity to put everyone in a group, they are responsible for much of the divisiveness in the country; not Stephen Harper. To be decisive and take a position, whether or not that position ultimately proves to be right or wrong, goes against everything that the Liberals stand for.
It would be nice if these recent statements made by Ignatieff, Rae, Kennedy et. al. could be explained away by simply being the remarks of leadership candidates that are made in the heat of the moment in order to appeal to delegates to the upcoming leadership convention. But they aren't -- they are what the Liberal Party of Canada stands for -- everything and nothing. and then along comes Steve and accuses the party of actually taking a position on something; being anti-Israel. Horrors!
The once mighty Liberal Party truly has become the party of Paul Martin. It remains to be seen if it will now become the party of Michael "I don't lose any sleep over Qana/Israel committed war crimes" Ignatieff.