Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney spoke out against antisemitism at an international conference being held in Toronto:
Canadians talk proudly of our tolerance and fair-mindedness. Often a tone of moral superiority insinuates itself into our national discourse. But these virtues are of fairly recent vintage – we have little to be smug about.
Mulroney summarized the dark history of antisemitism, and Canada’s shameful participation – including PM Mackenzie-King’s praises of Hitler, and the shameful “None is Too Many” immigration policy that slammed our doors shut to refugees in desperate need. He then brought his speech back to the present, blasting the current leadership for refusing to take a moral stand:
Anti-Semitism is born in ignorance and nurtured in envy. It is the stepchild of delusion and evil. The ongoing success of Canada’s Jewish community is consequently often misunderstood, misrepresented and misreported. The rise in the number of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in Canada and the pathetic but startling ravings of Saskatchewan Indian leader David Ahenakew testify to the intractability of the problem, and the constant need for vigilance, consistency and strength in dealing with the entire sweep of anti-Semitism.
In Dante’s Inferno it is noted that ”the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis, strive to maintain their neutrality.” Prime ministers are not exempt from this.
After his speech, Mulroney also blasted Chretien for its fence-sitting on Iraq:
“I don’t think anybody can be impressed by what has taken place so far in Canada,” he said.
“Our traditional allies -the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and so on – are going one way and we appear to be going another with the Russians and the Chinese.”
“We have to be moving now to convey to the (United Nations Security Council) our view that this evasion by the Iraqis is no longer acceptable and we want action and that we will support action taken by the United States, preferably, of course, through the Security Council.”
Widely blamed for an international recession, hated for the introduction of the infamous GST, and criticized for a laundry list of sins, Mulroney did not leave office as Canada’s most popular politician. The Conservative Party has been in freefall since his departure. But in this case, he happens to be right. Neutrality is another way of siding with the status quo. As long as the Liberals bury their heads in the sand and refuse to take a stand, Canada is tacitly voicing approval for the current state of affairs. And, as Mulroney pointed out, this current state is unacceptable.