Canada is a diverse nation. Our population is made up of peoples from all around the world, and until recently, we were well on the road to respecting all of our diverse cultures.
Then Harper took over.
While Harper's supporters have proudly proclaimed the "wisdom" of Harper's uncritical view of Israel, the jingoism he encourages is guaranteed to alienate others. In what could well be a microcosm of the Middle East itself, one of Harper's staffers opened himself and the government to a libel suit:
"Rather than responding to our legitimate concerns, the PMO's director of communications attacked us and attempted to smear our name by claiming NCCM had 'documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas,'" Ihsaan Gardee, the council's executive director, told a news conference Tuesday.
"Nothing could be further from the truth. NCCM will not let the PMO's false statement stand."Of course, we can't be overly surprised by this. In the run-up to Harper's much ballyhooed trip to Israel, one can imagine that within the bubble of Harper's PMO things were running at fever pitch. Anything which ran contrary to Harper's expressed view that Israel could do no wrong had to be denigrated in the same sound-bite manner used by the Conservatives to invalidate contrary opinions to their own.
Does NCCM have links to Hamas? I frankly have no idea, nor do I think that it's particularly relevant. It's quite clear from the context that Mr. Macdonald was using the accusation as a means to silence NCCM's voice at a time when it would have been very awkward to address the issues raised.
The Harper Government has, for years, expended a great deal of energy playing on misconceptions about the Muslim faith. Whether that has been in the treatment of Omar Khadr's case, or any of several people being detained under "Security Certificates".
To me, this smacks of a degree of systemic bigotry that runs through Harper's foreign policy - to the overall detriment of Canada's interests on the world stage. It is for this reason that I argue so strongly that Harper's black-and-white approach to foreign policy in the Middle East is so deeply problematic.
In Canada, we have significant populations from both Israel and her neighbours. It seems to me exceptionally short sighted of Harper to seemingly go out of his way to alienate one group, especially given how much effort Harper has expended on courting various ethnic communities for votes.
The bigger picture is that in Canada we should be striving to find ways to live together, not allowing our politicians to divide us over some rigid ideology.