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Yesterday in Parliament – Thursday, February 18

Feb 19, 2016 | Uncategorized

House of Commons

BDS

Yesterday the House debated the following opposition motion introduced by Tony Clement (CPC) and Michelle Rempel:

That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.

The motion is expected to pass, as the Government indicated they would vote in favour, along with the Official Opposition. 

Members from all parties took the opportunity to reaffirm their opposition to the BDS movement.

You can read our statement here.

The debate began at 10AM and continued until the early evening, with a brief pause for member’s statements and question period. You can review the full transcript of the debate here.

UNRWA

Hon. Peter Kent (Thornhill, CPC) 

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, was created in 1949 to support Palestinian refugees, but UNRWA has been politicized by the corrupt Hamas government in Gaza in flagrant violation of the UN policy of neutrality. 

Human rights organizations in Canada and abroad cite redirection of aid funds and material, storage of weapons, and incitement to violence against Israel in UNRWA-operated schools. B’nai Brith Canada says Canadian aid for Arab Palestinian welfare should go only to specific humanitarian programs and peaceful infrastructure projects. UN Watch has accused dozens of UNRWA staffers of using their official positions to incite Palestinian stabbing and shooting attacks against Israeli Jews. 

My Thornhill constituents ask: Why can the Liberals not find more appropriate ways of delivering humanitarian aid rather than simply handing it to terrorist sympathizers?

Senate

Iran 

Hon. Linda Frum:  

Minister Dion, Iran is widely considered the world’s pre-eminent sponsor of state terrorism through its support of terror groups that are listed entities in Canada, including the IRGC Quds Force, Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda and the Taliban. The Iranian regime, therefore, was correctly listed by Canada as a state sponsor of terrorism. 

This listing has enabled terror victims to sue Iran in Canadian courts and hold the regime accountable.

Minister Dion, will the government commit to keeping Iran designated as a state sponsor of terror for as long as the regime in Tehran continues to sponsor terrorism?

Hon. Stéphane Dion, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs: 

Thank you very much for the question, senator. Indeed, Canada will continue that. Canada will continue, also, to sponsor the resolution in the United Nations about the necessity for Iran to address the issue of human rights in a much more acceptable way. This is a resolution that we are sponsoring under the Liberals. The Conservatives will continue under the Liberals. We will address that. We will address the threat that Iran represents for its neighbours, including Israel, and the threat that Iran represents for Canadian national interests.

In order to address it, you need to be there. Fortunately Canada was there at the end of the 1970s. We had an embassy, and we have been able to help our American friends. There was a movie about it that was quite fair about the role Canada played at that time. 

Today we are not in Iran. In which way is that helping human rights? In which way is that helping the people of Iraq? In which way is it helping Israel or any interest we may have? That’s a big mistake the former government made. We need to be there.

By the way, explain to me what the logic is in not being there, but to count on the Italians, who are there, when we need to address Iran. We’re saying we are noble and moral, we are out of Iran, but when we need to be in Iran we use the help and facilities of one of our allies. That’s hypocritical.

I suggest that Canada be strong on all the issues you mentioned in engaging Iran in a frank and very strong way. Engagement is better than isolation.

Victor Goldbloom

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): 

Honourable senators, on Monday this week, Canada lost one of its most eminent, illustrious citizens when Victor Goldbloom died in Montreal of a heart attack at the age of 92.

Dr. Goldbloom was originally trained and practised as a pediatrician, like his father before him, but the political bug bit him, and in 1966, he was elected to the Assemblée nationale du Québec as the member for D’Arcy-McGee.

In the first Bourassa government, he was the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and in that capacity, he basically saved the Olympic Games, whose construction, as the games neared, was a complete mess, a swamp. Dr. Goldbloom saved them.

He was Quebec’s first environment minister, and indeed later, after leaving politics, he was President of the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement. 

Much later, he chaired the regional health and social services authority board, but his greatest contribution and his life’s work was to foster mutual respect and understanding among all Canadian communities.

In that capacity, he was probably best known to most

non-Quebecers for having been Commissioner of Official Languages between 1991 and 1999. Before that, between 1979 and 1987, he was President of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. He was also president of the Quebec region of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Always, everywhere, he worked to build bridges, and his success can be measured by the variety of high honours he was awarded, in addition to the usual array of honorary degrees and whatnot. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada and an officer of the Ordre national du Québec. Pope Benedict XVI made him a Knight of the Order of Saint Sylvester, and he was the honorary President of the Jules and Paul-Émile Léger Foundation. That’s Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger. An eminent member of the Jewish community, he was so respected that he was named honorary president of that foundation. 

And close to my heart, the Quebec Community Groups Network has called its annual prize for the greatest contribution to the English community of Montreal the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award. Sheila Goldbloom is Dr. Goldbloom’s wife and a power in her own right, a professor at McGill, a tireless worker for every good cause you can imagine.

Dr. Goldbloom was raised in a family that prized the arts, and he loved the arts all his life. He sang with the most magnificent voice and with great joy. There was a grand piano in their home. Every summer, the family would pack up and go to Stratford to take in as much Shakespeare as they possibly could.

He was eloquent in both official languages. He was a man of wisdom and integrity, a dedicated moderate who never gave in to despair or bitterness, no matter how bleak the world might look, and he contributed tirelessly to making it less bleak.

To his wife Sheila; to his children, Michael, Jonathan and Susan; to his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren, all sympathy.

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