Ignatieff on Mideast policy
On Nov. 2, I spoke to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations about rebuilding Canada’s leadership on the world stage. In my speech, I discussed Canada’s policy in the Middle East. Here’s an excerpt.
“Since the State of Israel was officially recognized, Canada has had a bipartisan policy… Two states for two peoples. Recognition of both. Peace, freedom and justice for both. That has always been the basis of Canadian policy. That is a balanced policy.
“But I think that we have to be very clear that being balanced with respect to the Middle East does not mean being neutral. We are not neutral between terrorists and a democratic state. Balance means that there are two peoples and that the land has to be shared – out of fairness for both, and out of a need for security for both.
“In my opinion, what has happened is that the prime minister of Canada has made the Middle East a domestic policy issue for political reasons. And that means that we’re starting to get away from the necessary balance that is needed to ensure our influence in the Middle East. And that has been very costly to Canada.
“Losing a seat on the [UN] Security Council has consequences – not only for Canada, but also for our friends in the Middle East. If we want to control the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East, which is Iran, then we have to have a seat on the Security Council. In order to protect Israel against threats, to protect Israel against human-rights resolutions which are not balanced – and also to advance the rights of the Palestinian people – then we need a seat on the Security Council.”
Our friends need friends who have friends. Canada will always be a friend to Israel. By rebuilding Canada’s leadership on the world stage, we can be a more valuable ally. And by renewing our influence in the international community, we can do more to advance the real objective of our policy in the Middle East: peace.
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.