Cotler may be greatest Jewish parliamentarian ever
It's no great secret that your not-so-humble scribe supports the federal Conservative Party. But not in the "my party, right or wrong" manner by partisan hacks operate.
The Conservative Party has been wrong about some issues before, and will likely be wrong about some issues again.
A classic example of this is their treatment of Liberal MP Irwin Cotler. In 2009, the Tories mailed 10% flyers to households in Cotler's riding suggesting that Cotler had sympathized with anti-Semites by attending the notorious Durban conference, organized by the UN, which provided an international soapbox for anti-Semitic remarks.
In particular, Israel -- the country with the best human rights record in all of the Middle East -- was unfairly singled out for attack.
To accuse Cotler of being soft on anti-Semitism or disloyal to Israel based on his presence at Durban is purely unfair. Cotler attended Durban in order to speak out against the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments made at the conference.
This is all before one considers that Jews anywhere in the Commonwealth may never have had a more loyal advocate in Cotler. Except, of course, Winston Churchill himself.
As Churchill was not Jewish, this would make Cotler the greatest Jewish Parliamentarian in the history of the Commonwealth.
It was Cotler, in his work Justice Delayed -- a copy of which your not-so-humble scribe is proud and honoured to have in his possession -- who brought the intolerable presence of Nazi war criminals in Canada to public attention. Cotler's children are members of the Israeli Defence Force (something Antonia Zerbisias seemingly took exception to.)
Now, it seems that Cotler is fighting for his political life, on the back of suggestions that he hasn't been loyal enough to his Jewish constituents. Any such suggestion is pure rubbish.
“It causes me deep, personal anguish,” Cotler remarked. “The Conservatives utterly misrepresent my record and put me in the docket of the accused on the issues where I have been at the forefront.”
Cotler accuses the Tories of Karl Rove-like tactics, focused on attacking the individual and spreading fear.
Cotler's primary opponent, Conservative Party candidate Saulie Zajdel, objects to Cotler's assessment.
“Where is the fear?” he asked. “Are we trying to scare anybody? We’re trying to engage in the issues.”
For most of the 2011 election campaign, this has been the case. But in the two years leading up to this election, the party has managed to confuse the issues as they pertain to Irwin Cotler.
If Cotler goes down to defeat on May 2, it won't be because the Conservatives deserve to beat him. It will be because the thinly-veiled accusations of racism levelled at Cotler were successful.
And it will be a crying shame. It will be a profound loss to Jewish citizens throughout the Commonwealth. Irwin Cotler would deserve better.