Senator Prud’homme alleges Minister of Justice usurps Minister of Foreign Affairs functions
24 November 2005
Yesterday, during a Senate debate over Canada’s recent voting patterns on UN resolutions related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Senator Marcel Prud’homme (Liberal) alleged that Justice Minister and member of the Interparliamentary Canada-Israel Friendship Group Irwin Cotler was effectively usurping the powers of Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew in dictating Canadian Middle East policy.
Senator Prud’homme asked whether it was "true that the real Minister of Foreign Affairs pertaining to the Middle East, who is vetting every word of every resolution, is not the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Pierre Pettigrew, but the honourable member from Mont Royal, who is responsible in cabinet for vetting every word, comma and paragraph of anything pertaining to the Middle East. If that is the case, it is disturbing to know that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been eliminated.
Senator Prud’homme also criticized Canada’s recent votes on Israel-related UN resolutions, expressing surprise that Canada had found "new allies" in such countries as Israel and the Marshall Islands and calling it an "embarrassment" that Canada sided with Israel and the United States.
In a rebuke of Senator Prud’homme’s statements, Senator Yoine Goldstein (Liberal) recalled that Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin himself calls Israel "a friend and an ally" and suggested that "Minister Pettigrew would be particularly disturbed and upset if he found out that the honourable senator to my extreme left considers that he, Minister Pettigrew, has nothing to do with the foreign policy for which he is responsible but that in fact foreign policy is dictated by the Minister of Justice".
Prud’homme is no stranger to inflammatory statements. In 2003, during a Senate debate over the situation in the Middle East, Senator Prud’homme, known for his staunch support of Arab world interests, claimed in a thinly veiled reference to pro-Israel groups that his "opinions on the Middle East (...) are not the views of some powers of Canada, powers that are the forces of hate! These hidden forces", he went on, "prevent us from seeing reality".
The Liberal government’s vote on Israel-related UN resolutions has been criticized by Canadian Jewish and other public affairs groups as unbalanced toward Israel, while Canadian Arab groups denounce what they perceive to be Canadian bias in favour of the Jewish state.
© Judeoscope 2005