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Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney was honoured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on Nov. 9. He was given the World Jewish Congress Theodor Herzl Award, joining a list of recipients that includes former U.S. president Ronald Reagan (posthumously), former U.S. Secretaries of State Colin Powell, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former German chancellor Angela Merkel, writer/activist Elie Wiesel and U.S. President Joe Biden.

Mulroney’s speech that evening was superbly crafted. I’m sure it was delivered with the eloquence we’ve come to expect from one of the finest orators ever to lead our country.

A few paragraphs deserve to be highlighted that focus on the Israel-Hamas war and the scourge of anti-semitism. These are important issues due to the times we live in. The former PM has also strongly and passionately opposed this type of racist behaviour for his entire life, which means it’s a matter of personal importance.

“Hamas knew full well the reaction its murderous rampage against innocents would provoke,” Mulroney said. “They knew and didn’t care. Indeed, it is the reaction they sought. They chose to put the lives of the two million people of Gaza they claim to defend in mortal danger in a deliberate, nihilistic attempt to set the Middle East on fire.”

The reasons for this attack “was not to increase the likelihood of a Palestinian state” and “was not to improve the lives of the people of Gaza,” the former PM told the audience. “These are terrorists in the purest sense of the word for whom the senseless violent act satisfies the strategic objective, killing Jews. Hamas knew something else. They knew they could count on a legion of apologists who, while decrying attacks on Jews here at home, are prepared to accept attacks on Jews in Israel as deserved.”

In Mulroney’s view, “contemporary antisemitism has added the State of Israel to its list of targets. Israel has become the new Jew. Stripped of its intellectual pretensions, of the cloak of human rights, these ritual denunciations of Israel with which we have become all too familiar are a pernicious form of racism.”

There was also this powerful paragraph near the end. “Antisemitism, born in ignorance and nurtured in envy is the stepchild of delusion and evil and is a scourge that must be eradicated. It will not be stamped out in my lifetime, nor in the lifetime of my children, or even, sadly, in that of my grandchildren.”

Well said and articulated.

Mulroney’s commendable opposition to antisemitism was detailed in Donald E. Abelson and Monda Halpern’s “On the Right Side of History”: Brian Mulroney’s Enduring Battle Against Antisemitismpublished by the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at St. Francis Xavier University. I wrote about this paper in a Troy Media syndicated column in January, but it’s worth a second examination.

Mulroney was born in Baie-Comeau, Quebec. It’s a “small pulp and paper mill town that had no Jews.” The first Jewish person he would meet, the “son of a local clothier,” occurred at St. Thomas High School in Chatham, New Brunswick.

Abelson and Halpern provided three reasons why Mulroney has strongly opposed anti-semitism in his lifetime. They’re as follows: “his exposure to social justice issues while a student at St. Francis Xavier University (StFX), his years in Montréal in the 1960s, and his intense appreciation for the lessons of the past which inspired his consistent resolve to be ‘on the right side of history.’”

Mulroney has also been frustrated at the hostility against Jews in and around our country. He firmly believes “Canada’s collective shame rests largely in the treatment of the Jews by the Mackenzie King government,” and has always “looked to the lessons of the Holocaust as inspiration for helping to redress other injustices.”

Some critics may feel that Mulroney’s support of Jews and Israel has been politically motivated. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“With Jews representing less than two per cent of Canada’s electorate, Mulroney had little to gain politically by garnering favour with the Jewish community,” the authors correctly pointed out. Rather, he was “fulfilling an ethical imperative – pushing for Jews in federal politics and diplomatic posts, establishing the Deschênes Commission, and supporting the existence and self-preservation of Israel.”

The proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes.

Three of his chiefs of staff were Jewish – Stanley Hartt, Norman Spector and Hugh Segal. Spector would also be named Canada’s first Jewish Ambassador to Israel, and Conservative Mira Spivak would become Canada’s first Jewish female Senator. Former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis became Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, Liberal Senator David Croll, who Mulroney believed was consistently passed over for a cabinet position “for no apparent reason at the time other than his Jewishness,” was appointed to the Queen’s Privy Council.

I’ve known Mulroney for years. His opposition to antisemitism, support of Israel’s right to defend itself and friendship with the Canadian Jewish community is genuine and has never wavered one iota. He, along with several other former Canadian prime ministers – including my old friend and boss, Stephen Harper – have consistently defended Jews and Israel in both public and private life.

That’s why Mulroney deserves not only the Theodor Herzl Award, but our thanks for being a beacon of light during this difficult time for our country and world.

Michael Taube, a long-time newspaper columnist and political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

Many people are asking in bewilderment where the revolting outburst of pro-Hamas propaganda and agitation from the halls of academe to the streets of Canada’s major cities and those of every Western nation came from. So we have to talk about the intellectual malaise gripping our elites. But also, finally, about immigration.

Raising the latter issue gets you pilloried as a racist, I know. But we can’t let ourselves be bullied right out of public debate. Especially not now, because a lot of the problem is large numbers of people who have come from countries where they sprinkle “Death to Jews” on their morning cereal. And you know it.

Those protestors calling for the destruction of Israel are not neo-Nazi farmers from Saskatchewan honking truck horns in defence of traditional Canadian values like free speech. Some are privileged left-wing zealots, including the lost souls holding up signs like “Queer Jew for Palestine” of whom I can only quote Philip K. Dick’s haunting maxim that “Thanatos can assume any form it wishes; it can kill eros, the life drive, and then simulate it. Once Thanatos does this to you, you are in big trouble…” But the vast majority chanting in public about driving the Jews into the sea are immigrants and the children of immigrants. It’s hidden in plain sight.

As I’ve written elsewhere, part of the extraordinary upwelling of support for terrorism and of hatred toward Jews clearly comes from the commanding heights. It comes from universities, public sector unions, politicians and others in the state sector where left-wing ideologies of DEI, critical race theory and deconstructionism rampage unchecked. But a lot of it comes straight in through our open doors, without any effort to conceal itself, because of our bizarre immigration policy and its even more bizarre intellectual underpinnings.

Part of it is a kind of soft multiculturalism that insists that all cultural habits are at bottom the same, so it doesn’t matter what exotic food you eat, magic hat you wear or colourful dance you do. This vision seems to me to make culture itself impossible, by declaring all symbols and habits charming but meaningless, thus giving us a Prime Minister who professes Roman Catholicism while disregarding its teachings on sexuality without any perceptible thought. But it is at least somewhat benign. Kiss, rub noses, whatever. We are the world. Peace, man.

Try selling a “Canadian values” test to Justin Trudeau, who as I’ve also written elsewhere had no idea that a great many Canadian Muslims held “conservative” views on sexuality. When he found out, his characteristically clueless and mean-spirited response was that they were being brainwashed by “misinformation and disinformation… particularly fuelled by the American right-wing”. And the same Justin Trudeau, who I am confident does not have a copy of Magna Carta on his wall, told an American publication Canada was the “first postnational state” and added “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.”

Be careful what you wish for. Because if there still were a mainstream, Hamas supporters would be outside it. Instead they’re marching boldly in our streets in large numbers. And a major reason is a much harder multiculturalism that says all cultural habits are good except those of the West. Thus giving us a Prime Minister who literally claims Canada is committing genocide now, with him in charge, without any perceptible thought of stepping down, let alone surrendering himself for trial. And academia is riddled with people who call Canada a racist, patriarchal “settler” state that should be abolished on the spot, so of course they want to bring in people from other places with other habits, including religious ones, because they are better than ours.

Remember right after 9/11 Sunera Thobani said women would never be free until Western influence was eradicated worldwide. In one sense it is inane, since no sane person thinks women are treated better in non-Western societies. Even if Margaret Atwood saw chadors in Afghanistan and hallucinated George Bush’s America forcing women into sack-wearing sexual slavery, historically the United States is the birthplace and home of feminism, from the Seneca Falls Convention onward. But in another sense such claims are malevolent, because the whole point is to make you grovel before ideas you know are false.

Here one risks getting into the fever swamps of “replacement theory”. But there’s no conspiracy. It’s just that radical leftism really is radical, and if you ignore it or pretend it’s cute and cuddly, you are astounded when people carry pictures of Chairman Mao, burn churches or shout “Palestine shall be free from the river to the sea” and wave images of gliders. Or when people like Laith Marouf aren’t ostracized by our politicians, they’re subsidized by them.

At some point neither coincidence nor error can explain it. But now that you’ve been astounded, and horrified, do we change course?

For decades the political establishment here and abroad, from left to pseudo-right, has been as united in their support for massive immigration as on any topic you can think of. Even abortion. And as vicious in their rhetorical pillorying of dissent as racist as they are spurious in their justifications, like the one about needing mass immigration to build houses for all the immigrants we let in to build houses for immigrants.

It’s time to push back, because this raw, unashamed anti-Semitism didn’t come from outer space. But it came from somewhere. And we all know where. Those crowds chanting “Gas the Jews” at the Sydney Opera house (no, really) were not immigrants from Norway, or grandchildren of immigrants from Britain. They or their parents came from places where fundamentalist Islam is dominant. And you know it and I know it.

What’s more, they know we know. Now they’re watching to see whether we care enough to do anything.

If I need to say I’m not talking about race, I’ll say it, and the usual suspects will deny it. But I’m not. I’m talking about culture, and culture isn’t just about the spices, or primarily about them. It’s about habits of thought and behaviour. It’s about world view. And yes, it’s about religion.

Islam is not a race. And of course many Muslims are not in the “itbakh al-yahud” crowd, and some have even dared speak up. But far too many are. In much of the Middle East broadly defined the blood libel is not even controversial. And if you bring in many thousands of people a year who believe it, they will flaunt it and despise you.

What becomes of our politics if we get a solid, make-or-break-governments bloc of left-wing big-city MPs who not only don’t denounce Hamas, they support it? Because we can, by continuing to bring in vast numbers every year from places where Hamas is popular and Judaism is illegal, along with homosexuality, and having them congregate in major urban areas. But why would we want to?

Thanatos, referred to above, is the death wish. And one could claim that the entire progressive ideology of the modern West is a death wish. But if so, it is not one most of us share. Is it really despicable to ask that potential immigrants say they do not believe Jews routinely commit ritual murders of non-Jewish children? If so, despise me and tell the world what you are.

That we would throw open our doors and our arms to people from anywhere in the world fleeing poverty or oppression and wanting to live the Western way is admirable. That our leaders would throw open our doors and their arms to people who share their hatred of the Western way is appalling. And that we would let them is stupid.

People are calling the Hamas incursion, and the widespread cheering for beheading Jewish babies, raping Jewish women and other anti-Semitic atrocities an inflection point. And I think it is. But it could bend either way.

If we want to keep Canada a land of decency and freedom, a refuge from persecution for those of all races and origins, if we do not wish to become judenrein in short order, we cannot allow ourselves to be bullied into silence on immigration policy any longer.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

In politics, there are important issues and there are useful issues. International issues and foreign affairs are important… but rarely useful, politically. No one could deny that the recent Hamas terrorist attacks, Israel’s military response, and the resulting humanitarian crisis are important things.

But watching the debate unfolding about this new crisis in the Middle East during the NDP convention, it’s hard to imagine how useful this is for New Democrats. Few voters really care about the party’s position on Palestine and Israel, and even fewer will think about it on Election Day.

Among the major parties, the NDP is the one most sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Already in 1938, J.S. Woodsworth, first leader of the CCF, was opposed to the right of Jewish refugees to enter Palestine, claiming “it was easy for Canadians, Americans and the British to accept a Jewish colony,  as long as it was elsewhere. Why ‘pick on the Arabs’ other than for ‘strategic’ and ‘imperialistic’ reasons?”

This position created a lot of turmoil within the party at the time, especially since Woodsworth, a pacifist, had been the only MP to vote against Canada’s declaration of war on Hitler’s Germany. The party would eventually line up behind the creation of Israel. But the debates were lively and accusations of racism and anti-semiticism, numerous.

Interestingly, the first Jewish politician to become leader of a party in Canada was Stephen Lewis in Ontario in 1970. His father David, became the first Jewish leader of a federal party in 1971. Another New Democrat, Dave Barrett, was elected premier of British Columbia in 1972, becoming the first Jewish premier.

This is to say that the NDP’s desire to find a balanced position on the conflict between Israel and Palestine goes back a long way. This desire for nuance has forced NDP leaders to be funambulists over time: a two-state solution; Palestine has the right to independence; Israel has the right to defend itself; denouncing terrorist actions and violations of international laws.

But this balanced position does not make all New Democrats happy. Ed Broadbent, Alexa McDonough and Jack Layton all had to manage very delicate situations. Numerous resolutions denouncing Israel are regularly brought to NDP conventions. Candidates have been rejected or dismissed because of their overly strong pro-Palestinian positions or anti-Israel statements.

Former MP Svend Robinson was once arrested by Israeli soldiers while trying to enter Ramallah, arguing that he was there to carry a message of solidarity and to promote peace.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for the resignation of Layton’s deputy leader, Libby Davies, for her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

On the other hand, many NDP MPs have been part of the Canada-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Group, which “furthers cooperation and mutual understanding” between Canadian parliamentarians and members of the Israeli Knesset.

Under the leadership of Tom Mulcair, some felt the party was taking a stronger position in favour of Israel. Ignoring the latter’s epic quarrels with leaders of the Jewish community, MP Sana Hassainia even slammed the party’s door using the issue as an excuse, pointing to  Mulcair’s in-laws being Holocaust survivors and to the sizeable Jewish community in his constituency.

From there to say that the NDP is under the thumb of the Jewish lobby, there is only one step, happily taken by the most pugnacious. There is a mirror reaction from the fiercest supporters of Israel, who believe that the NDP is infiltrated by pro-Palestinian hysterics. In this context, having a reasonable discussion is mission impossible.

Jagmeet Singh had to play a balancing act once during this last Convention, marked by scenes of demonstrations, heckling, delegates being removed and police intervention. This is not Singh’s fault, but it gave the party an immature image, as videos of the confrontations made the rounds.

At the tactical level, these ardent pro-Palestinian activists target the NDP because it is the lowest hanging fruit. They assume the message will have a more significant and immediate impact on delegates and party policies than if they showed up at a Conservative convention.

They will claim victory when they see New Democrats stand up in Question Period, denouncing “the impact of this war on the Palestinians”, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and asking the government to “stand up for international law”. Important questions, to be sure.

Meanwhile, Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives are relentless on the cost of living, asking Prime Minister Trudeau to “reverse his inflationary policies,” “to lower interest rates” and to “allow Canadians to keep their homes.” Useful questions, without a doubt.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

This content is restricted to subscribers

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.