George Galloway, writing in yesterday’s Ottowa Citizen
I’ve been, I’m almost gone and the sky over Canada hasn’t fallen in. I came to a dozen cities, addressed thousands — millions if you include the media coverage — and while I may not have conquered Canada’s neo-con government, the last redoubt of voodoo diplomacy, I have landed a few good blows I feel.
The theme of my tour, and the question I still can’t answer, is why Canada ended up with a government so determined on isolation from the currents abroad? By Stephen Harper’s own admission, you are paying a pretty penny. Although he is ready to “pay any price” for this isolation, I’m not sure you are.
Canada’s defeat in the recent election to the UN Security Council was due to the country’s “unstinting support” for Israel, as he admits. He’s picked a fight with Russia, prompting a former Canadian diplomat to describe his government as the “last Cold Warrior standing.” There’s the rumpus with the United Arab Emirates over something as inconsequential as landing spaces. Rumbling towards us is a major crisis in Lebanon with Canada’s fingerprints all over the casus belli. The head of the inquiry into the assassination of Rafik Hariri and most of the “investigation” muscle is Canadian.
Canada gained much credit, particularly in the Muslim world, for sitting out the Iraq war. But Harper is no Jean Chretien and the goodwill account is now overdrawn. A couple of broken promises later your young men and women, who have already paid a disproportionately high price among NATO occupation countries, are being sent back into the maw of Hamid Karzai’s corrupt, incompetent, failing Kabul congestion charge area caliphate, this time as “trainers.”
No one, least of all the official opposition, seems to ask just why Karzai’s army needs so much training. It was part of the mission when the first troops kicked the sand of Afghanistan almost 10 years ago and was certainly inscribed in the orders of Canadian troops when they arrived in serious numbers in 2003. A billion dollars a month goes on training, more than the monthly budget of the Karzai government, and Kabul teems with non-combatant lecturers and military professors — yet still at least a quarter of the army, according to the latest U.S. figures, disappears every year and pops up, trained perhaps, in the ranks of the Taliban. Besides, the Taliban pays better. They don’t have to contend with the costs of Karzai, his drug-dealing family and his warlords’ fiefdoms.
But it is the full-on over-identification of Canada with the most extreme Israeli government in history which is utterly mystifying. This is a government busily humiliating U.S. President Barack Obama over settlements, burying the hopes of peace under the concrete of spreading and illegal construction, and an apartheid wall on Palestinian land declared illegal by the international courts. The courts are treated with the same contempt as the will of the United Nations has been for more than 40 years.
Canada under Harper supports Israel on all of the above, as it did in the brutal massacre of more than 1,000 civilians during the attack on Gaza, with the entire territory rendered as basically an open-air prison camp, as British prime minister David Cameron described it. And as it did when Israel attacked a humanitarian aid ship in international waters, killing nine, wounding scores, and kidnapping hundreds whom they took in shackles to a jail in the desert, robbing many of their possessions. Substitute Iran for Israel in that last sentence and ask yourself what the Harper response would have been. You’d have been wearing tin hats in Toronto.
In his 60-page judicial caning of Jason Kenney, Canada’s immigration minister, a high court judge ruled that Canada had been misled by Kenney and his crew about me, that the advice of your security services and your high commissioner in London had been ignored and Canada’s laws bent crooked by the here-today-gone-tomorrow cabinet in Ottawa when it conspired to keep me out of the country. The whole affair, whilst ensuring packed to the rafters meetings from coast-to-coast-to-coast, has already cost Canada plenty, with more to come. In most democracies, Kenney would have had to tender his resignation under the weight of such judicial disapprobation or been forced to by the prime minister. That couldn’t have happened because Harper was caught in flagrante with Kenney by the court discovery process.
Let me say this for the ten-thousandth time, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of, or a supporter of, any terrorist organization. I hate terrorism, whether it is carried out by a man in a turban with a beard in the Tora Bora, or a statesman in a suit in the White House, in Whitehall or Tel Aviv.
I witnessed the results of it in my own east London constituency on 7/7, as I had previously in the aftermath of Israeli massacres in Lebanon and in Palestine. I am trying to bring about an end to all of this, to bring peace to the Holy Land. And the price of peace is justice for the Palestinians, as the Prince of Peace would surely have recognized.
George Galloway is a former British member of Parliament. He will be in Ottawa for an appearance at the Bronson Centre on Nov. 27.