Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Canadian Member of Parliament Pulls a Helen Thomas

Libby Davies, a Member of Parliament from Vancouver, is under the microscope for statements she made following an anti-Israel demonstration earlier this month.

When Davies, who is a member of the New Democratic Party (my old party), is asked if she believes Israel's "occupation" of Gaza and the West Bank began in 1948 or 1967 she replied, "'48. It's the longest occupation in the world."

It's a curious response given that Gaza and the West Bank were under the control of Egypt and Jordan between 1948 and 1967. But why let facts get in the way of irrational thought?

Davies also stated repeatedly that Gaza was under siege, called for all Israeli settlements to be dismantled and expressed support for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel.

Davies was denounced by both Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal MP Bob Rae. Harper likened Davies' remarks to those of former White House correspondent Helen Thomas and called upon Davies to resign as Deputy Leader of the NDP.

It is also worth noting that Rae was for most of his political career a member of the NDP. But he would have a falling out with the NDP in 2002 following it's increasingly anti-Israel sentiments.

For her part, Davies has released a self-serving statement which reflects the sentiments of someone who is not genuinely apologetic but rather the sentiments of someone who got caught.

Thomas Mulcair, the NDP's other Deputy Leader ripped Davies' comments. Mulcair, who is the only NDP MP from Quebec said, No member of our caucus, whatever other title they have, is allowed to invent their own policy.” Muclair also called upon Davies to apologize for her support of boycotting Israel.

NDP leader Jack Layton had to make assurances to Miriam Ziv, Israel's Ambassador to Canada, that Davies' views do not reflect those of the NDP. However, Layton has resisted calls from Harper and others to remove Davies as Deputy Leader. I wonder how this will sit with Mulcair. What if Mulcair resigns as Deputy Leader? Does Layton really want to lose his Quebec lieutenant?

Why Layton appointed Davies as Deputy Leader boggles the mind. Even when I was a member of the NDP I thought Davies was kind of flaky. Back in 1998, she tried to lead a Citizens' Weapons Inspection Team to inspect U.S. weapons of mass destruction in Washington state. Davies puts the loony in loony left.

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