A day after the Liberals accused Canadian soldiers of war crimes, and the morning he allied himself with a government-funded organization fighting to retain its anti-Israel bias, Michael Ignatieff arrived in Winnipeg.
He was on his cross-country university tour to bash the Conservatives. But even before he could start his trash-talk, he discovered that nobody cared because the earthquake that devastated Haiti dominated the news.
"The timing is just fortuitous given what's happening, given the engagement of Canadians, particularly young Canadians," gushed Manitoba's only Liberal MP, the unfortunate Anita Neville, the night before.
In short, it took a Stage 7 earthquake to overshadow the walking disaster that is Michael Ignatieff.
While he wanted to whine to students about the progrogation of Parliament, the Prime Minister and his cabinet were coordinating relief efforts to Haiti.
Ignatieff was left talking to people who don't vote about issues that don't matter. It should be his epitaph.
At least Iggy got to dodge the twin controversies bubbling under his feet.
John McCallum, a former Liberal defence minister, was being interviewed Wednesday on CBC Newsworld about his party's anti-prorogation ads when he started slinging mud at Canada's soldiers in Afghanistan. http://www.dd-rd.ca/site/who_we_are/index.php?id=702&subsection=president&subsubsection=letters_and_speeches
McCallum: "… But I also think Canadians do care about democracy and about the high-handed, undemocratic attitude and actions of this government, and I think proroguing adds to the total character picture of Mr. Harper, and the fact that they may have been committing war crimes, handing over detainees knowing that they were very likely to be tortured, that is a war crime. And the fact that they're covering it up, I think many Canadians do care about those things as well as caring about economic issues."
The interviewer, acting like a true CBC reporter with a script, glossed over McCallum's clear statement.
Meharchand: "You know, we could digress here and talk about who's handing over, is it the Canadian soldiers who you're accusing of war crimes, is it the government, I don't want to go there in this interview."
McCallum: "It's the government."
No, it's not. The government isn't physically in Afghanistan taking detainees into custody. That's done by the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, and that's who the Liberals are accusing of war crimes.
There can be no doubt what McCallum said and no doubt about the meaning of his words.
Ignatieff, who has been backpedalling for years since accusing Israel of war crimes, knows the danger of making cheap accusations to score political points. He's about to find out whether he'll be the collateral damage for McCallum's attack on the Canadian military.
But Ignatieff has learned nothing from his own flirtation with the anti-Israel Left's rhetoric. Thursday he authorized a Liberal Party news release calling for the government to appoint "an independent administrator" to look at the turmoil devouring Rights & Democracy (also known as the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development), an organization established by Parliament in 1988 to promote human rights and democratic institutions around the world."
"We need to get to the bottom of what's happening at Rights and Democracy," said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. "Something very serious is happening when the entire staff of a reputable human rights organization is in open revolt against a number of Conservative appointees to their board."
"It is extremely troubling to see Rights and Democracy - an internationally-recognized, non-partisan organization - being discredited after decades of work promoting human and democratic rights around the world," said Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae, commenting from Nepal while attending a conference on constitutional issues.
After the sudden and tragic death of Rights and Democracy President Rémy Beauregard last week, 47 employees of the organization signed a letter calling for the resignation of three Harper-appointed board members who have severely harmed the effectiveness of the organization. Rights and Democracy was created by a unanimous act of Parliament in 1988.
"The Conservative government has tried to undermine the Rights and Democracy organization with partisan appointments and now the organization's credibility and ability to function is in serious doubt," said Mr. Rae. "The government needs to address the internal chaos that they have created within Rights and Democracy."
Remember, Google is your friend.
It took seconds to discover that the turmoil at Rights & Democracy (as it's usually spelled) revolves around the fact that the Conservatives have managed to appoint a majority of the board (7 to 6) and that majority is trying to rebalance the organization's anti-Israel bias, something the old board views as political interference. One of the new appointments is David Matas, legal counsel for B'nai Brith Canada, not that you'll find that information in the FP.
Apparently, last year the board voted "to fund a non-governmental organization that some board members argued was connected to pro-Palestinian terrorist organizations." We haven't been able to identify that NGO.
And Le Devoir, which broke the story, says the Conservative government wants Rights & Democracy to break its connections to the United Nations Council of Human Rights. This is the the successor to the disgraced U.N. Human Rights Commission, whose membership included such paragons of human rights as China, Zimbabwe, Russia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. In 2004, the Commission unanimously accepted Sudan as a member just when it was under worldwide criticism for alleged genocide in Darfur.
Maintaining tradition, the Human Rights Council has passed more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all the admonitions against other UN members combined.
The anti-Israel bias of Rights & Democracy goes back as far as 2002 at least. In March, 2002, Palestinian terrorists killed 30 people in a suicide bombing of the Park Hotel in the coastal city of Netanya, in the midst of the Passover holiday seder . It was the latest outrage in a year of non-ending suicide attacks. Israel launched an offensive into the West Bank to stop the murderous attacks, and Rights & Democracy launched a political offensive to stop Israel.
The president of Rights & Democracy at the time was Warren Allmand, a former Liberal Party cabinet minister. He wrote the Liberal government demanding that Canada support sending United Nations troops to stop Israel.
The Israeli occupation was the “root cause” of the “Palestinian crisis,” wrote Allmand. http://www.dd-rd.ca/site/who_we_are/index.php?id=702&subsection=president&subsubsection=letters_and_speeches
Ending the occupation was “an essential condition” for stopping the suicide bombing campaign.
Israel is guilty of war crimes. “…destruction that seems more and more to be a systematic and premeditated policy, and which is in violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
The Liberals have been fuming for weeks over a Conservative Party mailout that accurately recounted how the Liberal government refused to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, failed to walk out of the Durban Conference that turned into the worst anti-semitic rally since Nuremberg, and that Ignatieff declared Israel guilty of war crimes in 2006.
The Liberals explained that they did, eventually, put Hezbollah on the terror list (after being excoriated in public by Liberal MP Irwin Cotler). They claimed without any proof that Israel asked Canada to stay at Durban. And Iggy apologized and apologized and apologized for saying what he believed.
"Mr. Ignatieff is finally finding his feet,"Terry Duguid told the Winnipeg Free Press Wednesday. "We and Mr. Ignatieff are finding our stride again.” Duguid is the Liberal candidate in the next election in Winnipeg South.