Friday, July 28, 2006

Judging Harper's Support of Israel

While the Calgary Herald's Don Martin prematurely declares that 'Harper Comes out Unscathed' over his pro-Israel stance and support of that country's so-called 'measured and justified' response, according to PM Steve Harper, declaring that 'nobody votes for a party's foreign policies', the Globe and Mail's Gloria Galloway offers a much different perspective on the situation.

Martin proclaims in his column that:

The payoff for his positions so far was rapturous reception by a 5,000-strong audience at a Wednesday rally in the last-stand Liberal fortress of Toronto, which should give the Official Opposition pause to gulp.

Note the word 'rapturous'.

Galloway sees that event like this:

That sentiment is less likely to run through Canada's other large cities, however. In Toronto, where the Conservatives have no MPs, some of the party's organizers are shaking their heads.

"The Jewish community is very staunchly in favour of the party's position. The Muslim community is not so happy," one very active member said. "And there's more of them than there are Jewish people. So in terms of a vote-getting thing, if he is doing it for that reason, I don't get it. It makes no sense to me." *

So, while Don Martin has already decided that the fallout for Harper's stance has been determined and that he is 'unscathed', what he fails to realize is that the war in the ME is far from being over and the people of Canada are not quite as shallow as he makes us out to be:

A vacationing public unaccustomed to decisive leadership seems generally supportive and is only reacting badly to the Middle East conflict when they pay soaring gas prices while filling up the RVs. As a long-term poll pleaser, Harper has delivered measured response.

Yes, Canadians are so self-centered that the only thing we care about is gas prices. And, if he thinks that we are so incredibly stupid that we would simply look at the fact that Harper has actually taken a stand, as if being 'decisive' is a be all and end all without considering what the decision was actually about, then maybe Don Martin needs to get out of Conservative Alberta more often where Alberta MP Lee Richardson backs up this decider talking point as well by telling the Globe and Mail, ' get the sense that they may not even agree but [Mr. Harper's] standing on principle and it's time we had somebody making a decision on principle and not on polls.'

Yes, I live in Alberta as well, so there are actually a few of us here who can actually look at the entirety of a situation and make a judgment that's based on something beyond Conservative party talking points and gas prices. But, the majority of the province's population is such a monolith of blind allegiance to all things conservative that we practically have to scream from our rooftops in order to be heard. The Calgary Herald should force Martin to spend a week or two in Quebec where, like it or not, Harper's future may yet be determined over this issue. He hasn't exactly come out 'unscathed' there or in many other places either.

And Saeed Rahnema, the director of the school of public policy and administration at York University in Toronto, was even more forceful.

"Canada built a reputation about the world, and particularly in the Middle East," Dr. Rahnema said. "Canada was so respectful -- and this is the product of 50 years of successive governments -- and unfortunately, overnight, Mr. Harper and [Foreign Affairs Minister] Peter MacKay have damaged that reputation. And I honestly don't know how long it will take to repair it."

But, who cares about that? As Don Martin says, all Canadians care about are gas prices and the fact that Steve actually made a decision. Right?

* (Note: While that Conservative 'party organizer' may be comfortable with saying that either the Jewish or Muslim communities speak with one voice on any issue, I certainly disagree. It would have been acceptable if they'd said that perhaps a majority of one or the other shared the same opinions, but it is inappropriate to speak of either community as not containing varied opinions.)

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