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4GW, Canadian style


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I found the behaviour of the opposition members of the Foreign Affairs Committee  rather.......interesting. I cannot say what the primary motivations were, but the effect of silencing the witnesses only plays into one set of hands.


CCD condemns silencing of Lebanese witnesses by Opposition MPs at Foreign Affairs Committee
Wednesday, 2 August, 2006

Ottawa, Canada - The Opposition Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties called for the convening of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development during Parliament's summer recess for the purpose of challenging the government's Middle East policy and the evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon. Such a committee requires that notice be given on the internet, and any potential witnesses can contact the Clerk of the Committee to request standing to provide testimony.

Several groups applied to be witnesses and were accepted by the Clerk of the Committee. These witnesses travelled to Ottawa from across the country on short notice and at considerable personal expense.

The committee met on August 1. In the morning, the committee MPs had an opportunity to question the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Peter MacKay. In the afternoon, the Opposition  MPs, mainly led by Alexa McDonough of the NDP, put forward a procedural motion calling for committee business to be dealt with before the witnesses were heard. The government MPs responded that concluding the committee business before hearing from the witnesses was like passing a verdict in a trial before calling witnesses.

Ms McDonough went further, stating that the witnesses were identified with a single well-defined, narrow position, and challenged their credibility. It should be noted that Ms McDonough made these damaging allegations against witnesses approved by the Clerk of the Committee while knowing neither the witnesses nor the content of their testimony.

Below is the list of witnesses scheduled to give testimony that afternoon whose right to speak was effectively revoked by Ms McDonough and other Opposition MPs:

Canadian International Development Agency
Canadian Red Cross
Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation
World Lebanese Cultural Union
Monastery Saint Anthony the Great
Canadian Assembly for Lebanon
Canadian Coalition for Democracies
Khal Ishraki, as an individual evacuee

The subject matter for the hearing was specifically Lebanon, yet Opposition MPs passed a procedural resolution that effectively denied all Lebanese witnesses the right to speak. These witnesses included people with family members in the southern war zone of Lebanon and those directly affected by the evacuation. The Opposition used a procedural motion to silence these voices. As a result, Opposition MPs, with no first hand knowledge of the situation, were able to criticize the government without fear of contradiction from Lebanese witnesses or by CIDA and the Red Cross who were directly involved in the evacuation and humanitarian effort.

CCD strongly condemns Alexa McDonough and other Opposition MPs for excluding Lebanese, CIDA and Red Cross voices with first-hand experience on the situation in Lebanon from providing testimony to a committee whose mandate was specifically the tragic situation in Lebanon.


The testimony that CCD had prepared but was prevented from presenting is below.

Follow the link to read the rest.

If you have questions:
The NDP preventing the Red Cross from speaking? That seems strange. I could certainly see that the Opposition types would like to stop CCD from speaking, but why the other groups?

McDonough was on the radio a day or so ago (on the Rutherford show) - she discused some Parliamentary rules had been breached or at least tsome question of procedure had been violated 

as pbi suggests, there is probably more to the story then a first glance shows but no doubt probably bathed in spite and pettiness.
More Canadian 4GW in an interesting piece, reproduced here under the Fair Dealings provisions of the Copyright Act, from today’s Globe and Mail web site:

Web-exclusive comment
How did our Mideast policy change without a debate?

Special to Globe and Mail Update

According to Israel, the killing of the Al-Akhrass family of Montreal by the Israeli air force in southern Lebanon was a mistake, as was the shelling of four United Nations observers, and now the bombardment of Qana. Despite the increasing amount of so-called errors, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to lend his total support to Israel.

The United Nations calls the situation in Lebanon "horrendous and dangerous." The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, says Israel may have committed war crimes against Lebanese civilians. Israeli air strikes and shelling have killed hundreds of Lebanese civilians. Yet, Mr. Harper's response has been to give Israel carte blanche.

This would lead any reasonable person to conclude that the Prime Minister believes all is fair in the so-called U.S.-led war on terror, with which this conflict seems to have been conflated.

Regardless of what is fuelling this fervent position, the Prime Minister is losing a great deal of credibility. Worse, Canada is losing its credibility in the world. How could one man, in a minority government, change the course of Canadian foreign policy without a debate?

Israel invaded Lebanon, Canada took a principled stand by relying on international law. Our leaders acknowledged Israel's right to self-defence and reminded the Israeli government that it had a legal obligation to respect the principle of proportionality and ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

This time, instead of taking a principled position based on international humanitarian law, Mr. Harper is even more strident in his support of Israel than George W. Bush and his administration. Commenting on Israel's attacks on Lebanon, Mr. Harper's now infamous qualifier of Israel's response as being "measured" went further than that of the President, who at least expressed concern for the "fledgling democracy of Lebanon." And Mr. Harper outdid himself when he questioned the presence of UN observers in southern Lebanon rather than calling for an end to hostilities to prevent further unnecessary death and destruction.

Some Conservative insiders are suggesting that the Prime Minister simply made a "rookie" mistake. After all, the Middle East is a complicated file that brings out great passion. But this is an argument that is no longer acceptable. From the Prime Minister's statements and those repeated by his Foreign Affairs Minister, three conclusions are clear: (1) Canada is no longer siding with international law; (2) Canada is part of an ideologically inspired coalition of the right that includes the U.S., Britain, Australia and Israel and that is intent on bringing about change through wars and violence; and (3) Canada is not interested in solutions that will bring about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

It is also increasingly clear, according to some Israeli military leaders and politicians, that a military solution to the conflict will neither resolve the current crisis nor the larger Israeli-Arab conflict. Canada should use its renewed friendship with the U.S. and Israel to remind them of obligations under international law. Friends don't let friends repeat mistakes.

Israel has tried to destroy Hezbollah on numerous occasions, only to have it come back stronger and more popular. This only serves to show that there is no military solution to the Middle East conflict. A comprehensive approach that resolves the heart of the dispute is the only solution, an approach to which Canada was committed under previous governments.

But there is a larger question Canadians need to ask themselves: How can our foreign policy shift so decisively without a debate? How can an ideologically motivated prime minister of a minority government decide that his government will no longer accept Canada's traditional position without talking about it in the House of Commons?

Let's be clear: This debate is not about being "pro" this or "anti" that. It is about our place in the world and how we work toward achieving peace. The Middle East conflict will remain at the centre of global issues for years to come. War will never produce democracies or bring peace, certainly not in the Middle East. A fair and just solution to regional problems is the only way. Let the negotiations begin.

Mazen Chouaib is executive director of the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations.

Globe readers are invited to respond.  I did, as follows:

This is a classic piece of 4th Generation Information Warfare (4GW) -  disinformation and propaganda designed to attack Canada's 3D (diplomacy, development, defence) mission in Afghanistan.  The aim of our (the West's) self declared enemies is to make us withdraw to the 'safety' of our home countries.  To do so, to withdraw, to give Afghanistan back to the Taliban and al Qaeda would be contrary to all, 100% of our national interests.  Wittingly or not Mazen Chouaib and the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations are attacking Canada – that makes them part of the problem, not part of the solution.  Shame on the Globe and Mail for giving them a secure base from which to launch the attack.

Edit: format correction
A rather telling transposition error by the Globe, corrected here:


From the Prime Minister's Iranian President's statements and those repeated by his Foreign Affairs Minister Hezbollah leaders, three conclusions are clear: (1) Canada Iran is no longer siding with international law; (2) Canada Iran is part of an ideologically inspired coalition of the right radicals that includes the U.S., Britain, Australia and Israel   Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Talaban and Al Qadea that is intent on bringing about change through wars and violence; and (3) Canada Iran is not interested in solutions that will bring about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.