When Jean Chretien was prime minister, during an annual black tie event, he was cornered by media mogul, Izzy Asper (d. 2003).
Asper wanted to know the tax details regarding donations to private foundations. Chretien coolly responded: "Izzy. You have enough money".
This "snub" prompted Asper to seek out the Reform Party. On July 21, 1993, he met with Preston Manning, wrote out a cheque for $ 5,000 and in exchange was allowed to write part of the party's platform. "Izzy pulled out all the stops on that one. He was prepared to invest his personal time and capital for the cause." (1)
This was the beginning of Stephen Harper's relationship with Canwest Global. Not that any of us really noticed their bias.
And it also set the course for Harper's foreign policy when it came to Israel. According to Lawrence Martin:
Though Muslims outnumbered Jews by two to one in Canada, the Jewish community was more politically impactful. Harper was aware, for example, that he stood to gain a major advantage in the Canadian media with his position. The country's largest media empire, Canwest, was controlled by the Aspers, who made no secret of their allegiance to Jewish causes and became enthusiastic backers of Harper on all related questions ... His position on Israel, more uncompromising than Ottawa had ever been accustomed, became the source of a long-running dispute with traditionalists. (2)Asper's devotion to Israel was spiritual. Harper's political. And because of this, I'm concerned with his next course of action.
Pressure is being brought to bear on Israel and their nuclear capabilities
Israel has long been assumed to possess nuclear weapons. The fact Israel's leaders routinely refused to discuss it did not diminish the certainty with which this conviction was held by the country's Arab neighbours, nor their strong objections to it. But continuing official ambiguity served a useful purpose in that neither side was forced to confront the issue full on. Now the veil has been torn aside.Australia wants Israel to join the non-proliferation treaty.
Proof that Israel is, without any doubt, a nuclear weapons state, means an end to nods, winks and blind eyes. It confirms Israel as the Middle East's premier armed power. And it challenges all the countries of the region, including Iran, to address, separately or jointly, the threat inherent in the resulting, now undeniable military imbalance.
In Bahrain at the weekend for a regional security summit, Mr Rudd said Australia wanted all countries to adhere to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty - including Israel, which is not a signatory to the 1968 agreement. The nuclear treaty caps the number of nuclear-armed countries at five - Russia, Britain, France, the US and China - but allows other nations to develop civilian nuclear technology.Canada should be joining in this debate. But we know that Stephen Harper would never agree to anything that would hold Israel to account.
And while conservatives of all stripes, continue to suggest that Iran is the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East, polls in the Arab world reveal that the majority believe Israel to be the biggest threat, followed by the United States. Only 10% fear Iran.
One of the duties of a country's leader is to keep it's citizens safe. This means having a foreign policy that is fair and balanced. Where aggression is only considered when all diplomatic measures have been exhausted. Where the concept of a global community can be a reality.
But Stephen Harper sees no such thing. He grows impatient with those who seek such goals. He follows the neoconservative world view, that sees the world as a "clash of civilizations". Where you shoot first and ask questions later. Bomb first and then sort out the fallen.
Canadians deserve answers, but we know we will never get answers until our media is allowed to ask questions. And our media will never be allowed to ask questions until we have a new leader.
In the meantime, we will continue to seek answers from WikiLeaks, and from men like George Galloway. I guess they didn't think this through.
1. Izzy: The Passionate Life and Turbulent Times of Izzy Asper, Canada's Media Mogul, By Peter C. Newman, Harper-Collins, 2008, ISBN: 978-1-55468-089-4, Pg. 83
2. Harperland: The Politics of Control, By Lawrence Martin, Viking Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-670-06517-2, Pg. 81