Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ignatieff: Be humane, be Canadian first.

Ignatieff: Forget fanatical loyalties
Hamilton Spectator Mar 3, 2007

Michael Ignatieff says Canadians should abandon loyalties to other nations, such as Israel and Lebanon, and demonstrate to the world that people with divergent views can live in peace.

"Multicultural Canada has the wonderful possibility of soothing, and creating human rights," the deputy Liberal leader said last night at McMaster University.

"That Canada is one of the places that works, rather than exporting hatred ... The biggest problem in the world is not global warming. It is creating political communities that can live with each other and stand their differences. If we can do that, there's no problem we can't solve."

Ignatieff, a former academic giving the opening address at the Global Citizenship Conference, said the Israeli invasion of Lebanon last year, to ferret out safe havens for Hezbollah guerrillas, was a prime example where Canadians let loyalties stymie support for human rights and being part of the global vision that abhors war and violence. He said it distressed him and Canadians should take a lesson from it to "knit connections" between hostile communities.

"If you do have to choose, choose human rights," the Etobicoke MP and author said.

"Do not be a fanatic. Fight fanaticism. Fanaticism is the conviction my people matter more than your people. Let me tell you, there are only victims. A dead Israeli looks pretty much like a dead Lebanese."

Ignatieff, who served on the International Commission on Kosovo, also spoke about the hostility in the former Yugoslavia and how it should not be accepted or supported in Canada.

"I don't want my country to be a centre of fanaticism, whether it's Sri Lankans, Jews, Muslim, Croats, Macedonians or anybody. The one thing about being Canadian is that we are safe from the storm. Thank God. And we should not be contributing to the storm. A belief in human rights means you don't fuel hatred and fanaticism."

More than 400 students from McMaster and the surrounding community are attending the three-day conference. It features workshops, debates and lectures on issues ranging from trade to globalization. It ends tomorrow with a speech by Prince Cedzza Dlamini, a grandson of Nelson Mandela.

On other issues, Ignatieff was asked about his party's decision this week to vote against extending two controversial clauses -- preventive arrests and investigative hearings -- in the Anti-Terrorism Act. Ignatieff, who said Canada should have a terrorist list and punish those who support terrorism, said he voted against not extending the clauses because they might lead to an abuse of freedoms. He said the clauses could be re-introduced in a new bill, but he'd only support them "if compatible with your freedoms."

On the issue of foreign aid, Ignatieff said the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) was "a terrible organization." He admitted, however, it has done some good work.


Canadian Tar Heel said...

Hi audacious,

This post seems more like a report, which is appreciated. But I wonder what your impressions are of both the speech and Iggy himself.

audacious said...

iggy's passion for human rights is inspiring. thus, i enjoyed the article.

i don't always agree with everything he says or offers. however, i find iggy easy to listen too. yet, he isn't one dimensional.

people criticize him for coming into politics and running for leader ... yet i see his academic and life experiences and for not being seasoned by a life of politics as an asset to canada. and personally, i feel iggy would have been the better / ideal choice for leader of the liberals.

just as the ndp, i enjoy jack's stand on afghanistan! he hasn't appeared to flip flop ... i admire that.