Hearings on Rights & Democracy...
I went to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in Parliament today to hear the latest witnesses on Rights & Democracy (R&D). What I head was pretty shocking, and it's evident that R&D should just be shut down.
Past Presidents of R&D Ed Broadbent (1990 - 1996) and Warren Allmand (1997 - 2002) testified in the second half of the hearing. The widow of Remy Beauregard testified in the first half.
I'll start with Ed Broadbent. He said that R&D is now dysfunctional and is losing its international reputation for independence. The new individuals on the Board, says Broadbent, are mean-spirited, intolerant, and incapable.
Broadbent accused the new Chairman of the Board, Aurel Braun, of gross incompetence and publicly called for his dismissal. He said this the first time he has ever called for the dismissal of a public official.
Then Warren Allmand testified. First, he said that when naming new Directors, the Prime Minister should consult opposition leaders and Board Members. Interestingly, under questioning, Allmand admitted that opposition leaders were, in fact, consulted on the two new board members named by the Conservative government.
He would say if they objected...but one would think that, if they had, we would know about it, no?
He accused the new Board members of "shielding Israel from all criticism" which he claimed is a policy of both the Harper and Netanyahu governments. Why he had to bring Netanyahu into it is besides me.
What worse is that these new board members have a bias against the UN, against the UN Human Rights Council, etc. I found this pretty shocking - I would hope that a lot of people would have a bias against the UN and against the UN Human Rights Council. Both have been acting as clubhouses for tyrants and dictators lately.
The questioning of Broadbent and Allmand were mostly done by Liberal, NDP and Bloc members. Only one Conservative, Jim Abbott, asked any questions.
One of the Bloc MPs said she was "shocked and angry" and that all her values are being taken away. "What I see is a complete change of direction and we as citizens don't see ourselves in this." I'd like to know exactly what values are being taken away.
Broadbent then said he has spent the last 3 months in London talking to NGOs, etc, and that the reputation of R&D is going down. Gee, what a surprise! He's probably talking to some pretty horrible NGOs, I bet.
The worst part of the afternoon was the questioning of Allmand about David Matas - one of the new Board Members (who is a terrific person). Allmand said that Matas had previously been on the Board of R&D and had been constructive, but now he is just an apologist for Israel - he was not was extreme as he is now. Allmand was shocked when he read the statement by Matas (on Ezra Levant's blog site) that dared to criticize NGOs and the UN Human Rights Council. "Matas' main concern is protecting Israel from criticism - he is saying that if you criticize Israel you are anti-semitic."
I don't believe Matas ever said that.
Allmand then offered as proof the fact that Matas was an extremist the fact that Matas had walked out of the Durban I conference on racism before the Liberal delegation had finished its work there.
That should be a badge of honour, no????
Then Allmand said that R&D must make its decisions in line with its Human Rights Mandate - basically implying that UN Human Rights Codes would make it impossible to support Israel.
Then it was Broadbent's turn to go after Matas. He said (with some laughter in the room) that the NDP had never formed a government, but if he had he would have loved to appoint a Liberal to do his dirty work - an implication Matas is doing the same for the Conservatives.
Shame on Broadbent and shame on Allmand.