Thursday, August 03, 2006

Opposition Muzzles CIDA, Red Cross, Lebanese

Alexa McDonough is psychic! She can judge before hearing witnesses. But they all come from a certain point of view, she says, and so their credibility is shaky. Hmm. Don't agree with me? Must be a liar. Yup! That's why I don't vote NDP anymore! Read the post from Canadian Coaltion for Democracies here.

Ottawa, Canada - The Opposition Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties called for the convening of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development during Parliament's summer recess for the purpose of challenging the government's Middle East policy and the evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon. Such a committee requires that notice be given on the internet, and any potential witnesses can contact the Clerk of the Committee to request standing to provide testimony.

Several groups applied to be witnesses and were accepted by the Clerk of the Committee. These witnesses travelled to Ottawa from across the country on short notice and at considerable personal expense.

The committee met on August 1. In the morning, the committee MPs had an opportunity to question the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Peter MacKay. In the afternoon, the Opposition MPs, mainly led by Alexa McDonough of the NDP, put forward a procedural motion calling for committee business to be dealt with before the witnesses were heard. The government MPs responded that concluding the committee business before hearing from the witnesses was like passing a verdict in a trial before calling witnesses.

Ms McDonough went further, stating that the witnesses were identified with a single well-defined, narrow position, and challenged their credibility. It should be noted that Ms McDonough made these damaging allegations against witnesses approved by the Clerk of the Committee while knowing neither the witnesses nor the content of their testimony.

Below is the list of witnesses scheduled to give testimony that afternoon whose right to speak was effectively revoked by Ms McDonough and other Opposition MPs:

Canadian International Development Agency

Canadian Red Cross

Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation

World Lebanese Cultural Union

Monastery Saint Anthony the Great

Canadian Assembly for Lebanon

Canadian Coalition for Democracies

Khal Ishraki, as an individual evacuee

The subject matter for the hearing was specifically Lebanon, yet Opposition MPs passed a procedural resolution that effectively denied all Lebanese witnesses the right to speak. These witnesses included people with family members in the southern war zone of Lebanon and those directly affected by the evacuation. The Opposition used a procedural motion to silence these voices. As a result, Opposition MPs, with no first hand knowledge of the situation, were able to criticize the government without fear of contradiction from Lebanese witnesses or by CIDA and the Red Cross who were directly involved in the evacuation and humanitarian effort.

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