Kingston Whig Standard | 31Aug2006 | Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Letters to the Editor

Borys-bashing

Dear Editor,

I agree with Lubomyr Luciuk, "Why are federal politicians so intent on Borys-bashing?", The Whig Standard, 31 August 2006 , that Canada has "no significant national interests at stake there." For that reason we must not send Canadian troops to fight Israel's wars.

We will do much better, than having our kids killed to justify Jewish settlements at the expense of other peoples, if we pressure our government to pressure Israel and its sophisticated lobby in Canada -- "unequalled on (Ottawa's Parliament) Hill for effectiveness" -- to rein in its expansionist ambitions, commit to living peacefully with its neighbours, give up war as a means to generate non-stop attention to itself. Above all, make peace with its enemy: no need to make peace with friends, is there?

If the Jewish-Canadian diaspora disagrees, it is still free to send its own sons and daughters to fight for Israel regardless of Canada's policy.

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Gatineau, PQ.

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Also archived at announce@infoukes.com 31Aug2006 and e-Poshta 02Sep2006.



Kingston Whig Standard | 31Aug2006 | Lubomyr Luciuk
Opinion
http://www.thewhig.com/webapp/sitepages/content.asp?contentid=173885&catname=Opinion%20Columns&classif=

Why are federal politicians so intent on Borys-bashing?

First, a confession. I know Borys Wrzesnewskyj. I even like the guy.

I made a modest donation to his election campaign. Not that I would vote for him. I support Borys because he is a Ukrainian Canadian and a principled advocate on many issues of interest to our community. Alas, he climbed Parliament Hill as a Liberal, joining a collection of politicians so generally spineless and mediocre that my advice today would be, "Borys, pull a Belinda." That would likely be to his advantage, as "the Emerson effect" was for David Emerson when he switched from the Liberals to the Conservatives.

Unfortunately, the Conservative side of the House of Commons is populated by more than a few Bible Belters enraptured by one side's views on what should be done in the "Holy Land." By the latter, I mean that sliver of western Asia that is hardly holy, and even less a land of any worth, yet that somehow secures disproportionate attention from the news media and politicians, as if Canada had significant national interests at stake there. It doesn't.

Borys Wrzesnewskyj is the MP for Etobicoke Centre and was, until quite recently, the Liberals' associate foreign affairs critic. In no small measure thanks to effective lobbying by B'nai Brith Canada, he was forced to resign because, following a short trip to Lebanon -- accompanied by New Democrat Peggy Nash and Maria Mourani of the Bloc Quebecois -- he expressed the apparently suicidal opinion that listening to all parties in a dispute, including Hezbollah, might be useful.

Now, some folks, including Wrzesnewskyj, regard Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Even if all were agreed on that, it is unclear how anyone expects fighting to end when one of the belligerents is excluded from ceasefire negotiations, not that peace in the Middle East is likely anyway.

Allegedly, some "prominent Liberals" -- Heather Reisman being so identified weeks ago -- have defected to the Conservatives because of a perceived Liberal Party bias against Israel. Can that explain the Borys-bashing? Certainly most Liberal leader-wannabes launched salvos at him soon after B'nai Brith stoked up this controversy. Carolyn Bennett, former chair of the Canada-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, insisted on Wrzesnewskyj's resignation, claiming his views don't represent Liberal policy, and ignoring the fact that he never said they did.

Leadership contender Michael Ignatieff stayed uncharacteristically muted. Wrzesnewskyj has been an open supporter of another leadership hopeful, Gerard Kennedy, and was frank in criticizing the Ignatieff campaign's backroom bully-boy takeover of the neighbouring Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding.

Meanwhile, Kennedy, who has been known to whisper about having some Ukrainian in him, repaid Wrzesnewskyj's loyalty by distancing himself from the latter's emasculation. All while the interim Liberal leader, Bill Graham, crowed, "We don't have an iron-clad discipline around our members. Nobody's got them loaded up on a bus and thrown away the key," that being a reference to a recent Conservative caucus meeting. Graham was at least being honest: The Liberals throw away the MP.

Some of those braying for Wrzesnewskyj's blood made much of the fact that the Lebanese trip was sponsored by the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations. That he paid his own way was buried in the Katyusha-like barrage aimed his way.

Strangely, similar concerns about bias are rarely, if ever, raised when other MPs get ferried to Israel. A veteran Jewish-Canadian journalist, Larry Zolf, described these junkets and their purpose quite candidly on Oct. 14, 2004: "The Jewish community has in the Canada-Israel Committee the best lobby on Parliament Hill. Their program of getting MPs to go and see Israel is a sound one. Their belief is that exposure to real Israelis in the setting of Israel is the best possible way of persuading people to become pro-Israel. Theirs is a sophisticated operation unequalled on the Hill for effectiveness. The Canadian Jewish Congress runs a close second."

No argument there. That is why I concur with a recent Globe and Mail editorial stating that "one-sided forays" into the Middle East are "not helpful or particularly enlightening;" that indeed the "very practice is unsettling."

Let me now make a suggestion for Borys Wrzesnewskyj: Draft a private member's bill. Table it when Parliament next meets. The bill would ban any MP in any party from accepting any junket to any country or region at any time for any purpose, regardless of which non-governmental organization, special interest groups or foreign governments offered them, even if "friendly" ones.

All Canadians, regardless of where they stand on the issues of war and peace in the Middle East or anywhere else, can understand that our elected parliamentarians will have occasional cause to go abroad in this country's national interest. If and when there is such a need, they should travel officially, not on someone else's tab. Finding out who opposes such common-sense legislation would be educational.

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Lubomyr Luciuk is a professor of political geography at the The Royal Military College of Canada.



Winnipeg Sun | 31Aug2006 | Lubomyr Luciuk
Editorial/Opinion, p11

Mideast Opinion Political Suicide

First, a confession. I know Borys Wrzesnewskyj. I even like the guy. I made a modest donation to his election campaign. Not that I would vote for him. I support Borys because he is a Ukrainian Canadian and a principled advocate on many issues of interest to our community.

Alas, he climbed up Parliament Hill as a Liberal, there joining a collection so generally spineless and mediocre that my advice today would be "Borys, pull a Belinda." That would likely be to his advantage -- "the Emerson effect."

Unfortunately, the other side of the House is populated by more than a few Bible Belters enraptured by one side's views on what should be done in the so-called "Holy Land." By the latter, I mean that sliver of western Asia that is hardly holy, yet which somehow secures disproportionate attention from the news media and politicians -- as if Canada had significant national interests at stake there. We don't.

Now Borys Wrzesnewskyj is the MP for Etobicoke Centre and was, until very recently, the Liberal's associate foreign affairs critic. In no small measure thanks to the effective lobbying of B'nai Brith Canada, he was forced to resign because, following a short trip to Lebanon -- accompanied by New Democrat Peggy Nash and Maria Mourani of the Bloc Quebecois -- he expressed the apparently suicidal opinion that listening to all parties in a dispute, including Hezbollah, might be useful. Now some folks, including Borys, regard Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Even if all were agreed on that, it is unclear how anyone expects fighting to end when one of the belligerents is excluded from ceasefire negotiations, not that peace in the Middle East is ever likely.

Allegedly some "prominent Liberals" -- Heather Reisman being publicly so identified weeks ago -- have defected to the Conservatives because of a perceived Liberal party bias against Israel. Can that explain the Borys-bashing?

Certainly most Liberal leader wannabes launched salvos at him soon after B'nai Brith stoked up this controversy. Carolyn Bennett -- former chair of the Canada-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group -- insisted on Wrzesnewskyj's resignation, claiming his views don't represent Liberal policy, ignoring the fact that he never said they did. And while Michael Ignatieff stayed uncharacteristically mute, I'd bet the good professor snickered, for Borys has been an open supporter of another leadership hopeful, Gerard Kennedy, and was frank in criticizing the Ignatieff campaign's backroom, bully-boy, takeover of the neighbouring Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding. Meanwhile Kennedy, who has been known to whisper about having some Ukrainian in him, repaid Wrzesnewskyj's loyalty by distancing himself from the latter's emasculation.

All while the interim Liberal leader Bill Graham crowed: "We don't have an iron-clad discipline around our members. Nobody's got them loaded up on a bus and thrown away the key," referring to a recent Conservative caucus meeting. Graham was, at least, being honest. The Liberals throw away the MP.

Some of those braying for Borys's blood made much of the fact that the Lebanese trip was sponsored by the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations. That he paid his own way was buried in the Katushya-like barrage aimed his way.

Similar concerns of bias are rarely, if ever, raised when MPs get ferried to Israel. A veteran Jewish-Canadian journalist, Larry Zolf, described these junkets and their purpose quite candidly, in October 2004: "The Jewish community has in the Canada-Israel Committee the best lobby on Parliament Hill. Their program of getting MPs to go and see Israel is a sound one. Their belief is that exposure to real Israelis in the setting of Israel is the best possible way of persuading people to become pro-Israel. Theirs is a sophisticated operation unequalled on the Hill for effectiveness. The Canadian Jewish Congress runs a close second."

No argument there. That is why I concur with a recent Globe and Mail editorial stating that "one-sided forays" into the Middle East are "not helpful or particularly enlightening," and indeed the "very practice is unsettling."

Let me make a suggestion. Dear Borys -- draft a private member's bill. Table it when Parliament next meets. Disallow any MP, from any party, to accept any junket, to any country or region, at any time, for any purpose, regardless of which NGO, special interest group or foreign government offers, even "friendly" ones.

All Canadians, regardless of where they stand on the issues of war and peace in the Middle East, or anywhere else, can understand that our elected parliamentarians will have occasional cause to go abroad, in this country's national interest. If and when there is such a need they should travel officially, not on someone else's tab. Finding out who opposes such common-sense legislation will be very educational.