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Harper's attack on democracy and the Arab and Muslim community

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Most recently, the Harper government ended the country's long-standing funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The Agency provides humanitarian and social assistance to Palestinian refugees displaced by the creation of Israel. These Palestinian refugees are not allowed to return to their homes in defiance of numerous UN resolutions including the one that granted Israel membership in the UN. Canada's money is now being given to Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority for justice and security purposes.

In addition to sabotaging the work of human rights groups, the Harper government has politicized organizations to ensure they serve Israel.

For example, it appointed hard-line Israel supporters to the board the once-respected Montreal-based Rights & Democracy. It was set up by former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and is supposed to be non-partisan. Its mandate is to promote Canada's foreign policy by supporting the rule of law in troubled countries like Haiti and Afghanistan.

Once Harper had appointed a majority of Conservative stalwarts to the board they immediately held a "repudiation vote" against funding B'Tselem, and its Palestinian West Bank partner: Al-Haq (Law in the Service of Man) and Al Mezan in Gaza. All three organizations have criticized both Israeli and Palestinian human rights violations, including the December 2008 Israeli attack on Gaza.

When he approved grants to these three Middle East organizations, President Remy Beauregard had the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs, according to two former presidents of the Organization--Warren Allmand, a former Solicitor General of Canada, and Ed Broadbent, a former leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

Faced with unprecedented government interference, 45 of 47 staffers, both management and union, demanded the firing of the Harper-appointed board chair, University of Toronto political science professor Aurel Braun (a Zionist Jew), and the removal of his vice-chair and another director.

"After the war in Gaza, the two Palestinian and one Israeli group were checking if there had been human rights abuses. When Mr. Braun found out, I'm told, he went completely bonkers," said Broadbent.

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One of those to resign in protest was Dr. Sima Samar of Afghanistan. One of the foreign board members, she was honoured last year with the Order of Canada for defending women's rights. Only a handful of non-Canadians, such as Nelson Mandela, have received this award.

Samar said she quit because of the board's secrecy, "toxic" atmosphere, disrespect for the three international members, and its narrow political agenda, especially from Braun.

"I find it incongruous that a centre dedicated to human rights had violated the rights of its top employee; that rather than being transparent, it was secretive; and instead of standing up for the victims of human rights violations, it was siding with the violators." Samar said in an interview from Kabul.

The Vice Chair, whom the employees almost unanimously wanted removed, Jacques Gauthier, was appointed interim president after Beauregard died from a sudden heart attack.

Beauregard, the former head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, was well respected for his managerial competency and his commitment to civil liberties. His heart attack came shortly after a vitriolic board meeting with its new Conservative-appointed majority.

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As an example of Braun's pro-Israel bias, he moderated Michael Ignatieff's April 14, 2008, talk at Holy Blossom Temple, at which he tried to make amends to the Jewish community for saying Israel committed "war crimes" when it bombed civilians in Qana during the 2006 attack on Lebanon.

Braun asked Ignatieff probing questions in what was described as "a frontal assault." Braun also compared John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of acclaimed book The Israel Lobby to President Barack Obama's former Pastor Jeremiah Wright, who was accused of holding "extreme" anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views.

This politicization of institutions has not gone unnoticed.

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EDWARD C. CORRIGAN SHORT BIO Edward C. Corrigan holds a B.A. in History and a Master's Degree in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. Ed also has a Law Degree from the University of Windsor and was called to the Bar of the (more...)
 

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for Harper and his government next time around bec... by Archie on Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 7:08:36 PM
the last comment, the Dubai debacle has broken out... by Archie on Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 3:57:28 PM