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Monday, February 20, 2006

Peter MacKay, appeaser and censor

Two weeks ago, I wrote an Op-Ed in the National Post giving Peter MacKay the benefit of the doubt after he issued a press release saying that Canadian publications shouldn't print the cartoons, and ending with a flourish -- that his department would promote Islam around the world.

That's nuts, I thought. Must be just a too-clever bureaucrat taking advantage of young Peter when he's still fresh on the job.

How naive I was.

Today MacKay went even further:

I think it's dangerous to Canadian citizens ... who are travelling abroad, where we have seen the reaction that is more extreme and certainly more violent," he said.

"It's also been noted that it may cause a danger to Canadian troops because of the elevated tensions that result from the publication."

...MacKay said those who published the images must have known they were risking people's safety. For safety's sake, he said media must accept certain limits on expression.

"Knowing that there has been loss of life, attacks on embassies, very aggressive actions towards other countries ... it's not as if anyone can say, 'Well, we couldn't gauge the reaction. We didn't know how the Muslim community would respond,'" he said.

"Respecting people's freedom of expression (is important) -- but the danger here towards loss of life and violence clearly outweighs republication, in my view."

MacKay's first comments were met by a pretty clear "correction"  by his boss, the Prime Minister. Stephen Harper said:

"Free speech is a right that all Canadians enjoy; Canadians also have the right to voice their opinion on the free speech of others."

Harper expressed his "regret" that we published the cartoons -- but that's his personal opinion as a prime minister. His comments affirmed the unrestricted freedom of the press. MacKay's latest comments chip away at that.

1. What business does the Foreign Minister have calling for limits to freedom of speech domestically? Has he consulted the Justice Minister, or Culture Minister? Is he just issuing threats, or does he plan to do something about it in cabinet or the Parliament?

2. Did he not read the Prime Minister's statement? If so, who is the boss? Will Harper allow himself to be contradicated by MacKay -- the very person whose original utterances caused him to issue his clarification?

3. What do MacKay's latest comments say about his philosophy as our Foreign Minister? If he thinks that foreign reaction to domestic freedoms -- riots, etc. -- should be cause for limits on our domestic freedoms, doesn't he misunderstand his purpose? Doesn't he know that it is our diplomats' job to promote Canadian values around the world, especially to places that aren't free -- and their job is not to import bad foreign ideas, like limiting the press, into Canada?

4. MacKay repeats the Defence Minister's earlier assertion that inanimate cartoons, published in Canada, place our troops in Afghanistan in danger. Really? I thought our troops were in danger because of Taliban terrorists -- terrorists our troops were sent there to hunt and kill. Is it now the reverse, as with MacKay's diplomatic policy -- that our troops are not there to spread our notions of freedom, but rather to be a pressure point by which terrorists might use to hold our own domestic freedoms hostage?

5. Doesn't MacKay even hear his own soft bigotry, in his implication that "the Muslim community" is simply a group of automatons who are excitable to riot, and that we have to accept that about them? How about holding Muslims to the same standards as the rest of us, and not accepting the actions of its most radical factions as an indicator of the whole "community"?

There has been a lot of noise in the conservative base about the appointments to cabinet of David Emerson and Michael Fortier. Yes, those are interesting and important issues. But far more important -- and far more worrying -- is that the key post of Foreign Affairs has been frittered away on a wobbly Red Tory, who not only is already contradicting party principles, but is defying his leader's clear statements.

Foreign Affairs is where the difference between a liberal, UN-centric, appeasement approach to the world, and a conservative, Anglospheric, freedom approach to the world is the clearest -- moreso than in any other cabinet portfolio, from finance to justice. MacKay has always been a weak spot in the party, from his political dalliance with Belinda Stronach to his chronic media undermining of Harper. That was one thing when it was just party business. But now it's the nation's business, and it's something that should cause Canadians, especially movment conservatives, great concern.

Posted by Ezra Levant on February 20, 2006 | Permalink


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Poor Ezra. Not getting enough attention? That's the only reason I can think that you would pretend there is some rift between Harper and MacKay's comments and that you are being picked on. Nothing MacKay said can be read (by a sane person) as advocating limits on free speech. Both Harper and MacKay agree (with a lot of us) that you have the right to print the cartoons, but that you made a bad decision to run them. You abdicated your social responsibility so you could grandstand, with no benefit to anyone or anything but your ego. An ego, I might add, that keeps you harping on this issue in the hopes of becoming more than a d-list "celebrity" (as you called yourself recently). Who needs "Corner Gas" when we have Ezra the gasbag?

Posted by: Mark Logan | 2006-02-20 10:35:57 PM

Mr.Levant, I appreciated your point in the article regarding the real reason for our troops being in Afganistan, that being, the Taliban regime.
In Canada, the "Law" states that all individuals have rights and priviledges, and that, the government will take action against those, who, for whatever reason decide to take away those rights or priviledges from another.
In Afganistan, under the Taliban regime, there is no such law. People are only considered valued, and allowed to live, if they follow a set of rules dictated by a madman.
If they break these rules, they are murdered, end of story. Life is not sacred, ideals are sacred.
As a "free" individual with rights and priviledges, I am very thankful that I live in a country where I can be out-spoken, knowing that it is against "Our" "Canadian" "Law" to kill, or threaten to kill another for voicing a difference of opinion.
All this rage over a silly cartoon, seems to remind me of the bullies in Junior High school.

Posted by: Chandra | 2006-02-20 10:48:42 PM

Speaking of the liberal Peter McKay MP who did wrongfully object to the alcoholics rightfully being punished for the abuse, damage they do to themselves and to others, I do really believe he is inclined to drink toomuch alcohol, to have one too many, and he will find himself in an embarrassing position with the Muslims on this who are clearly abstainers. He did not think this fully through. There are about 15 MPs who are inclined to be alcoholics, who realy love their booze.

Posted by: Canadian | 2006-02-20 10:51:47 PM

I support you Ezra. Good points. If only we didn't need red tories, but I guess that's why we had the merger.

Posted by: Friendly Stan | 2006-02-20 10:57:09 PM

McKay would prefer to be bullied, that's all. And he'll sleep better at night if nobody else pokes at the bully, for fear of the bully acting up, because that may force difficult decisions.

"Respecting people's freedom of expression (is important) -- but the danger here towards loss of life and violence clearly outweighs republication, in my view."

Yikes. That's not really a very principled stance at all, in fact it's simple capitulation.

To paraphrase:

Freedom of speech is important, but not as important as appeasing those who would kill when you exercise your freedom of speech.

The inability or unwillingness to hold the bully to an acceptable standard of civilized behaviour is dissapointing.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-20 10:57:47 PM

If it's too dangerous for our troops overseas then we should bring them home and we can fight the terrorists here on our subways and in our airliners. That makes much more sense? If muslims advocate using Canadian law to trample people's rights now - then they wouldn't mind the kinds of laws that would be advocated after a few attacks on Canadian soil.

Posted by: simpleton | 2006-02-20 10:58:40 PM

"According to this new Compas survey of over 200 Canadian journalists, 70% of reporters feel that the Canadian media should have published the Danish cartoons. About the same number feel that not publishing the cartoons has strengthened the hand of Muslim radicals, who have learned a lesson in censorship -- that is, they can get away with bullying the media, and that moderate Muslim voices have been set back. On the whole, this survey helps reveal the fake righteousness of those editors who censored the cartoons for what it really was: a decision made under duress, in response to explicit threats overseas and veiled threats at home. Even their own news rooms can see through the politically correct spin."

and that includes bad liberal politicians like P MacKay MP too. 30 perecent only supported the cartoons, the same amount that supported the old bad Prime Minister Paul Martin who wrongfully publicly endorsed alcohol as PM too now. I might say at least 25 of the reporters too are likley alcoholics too. When Ralph Klein used to be a reporter in Calgary he spent a lot of time in the beer tavern too. And a Miliary that is afraid of the enemy's threeats? you are kidding.

(Prov 31:4 KJV) It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

(Prov 31:6 KJV) Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Christians also have become targets. Pakistani Muslims protesting in the southern city of Sukkur ransacked and burned a church Sunday. That incident came a day after Muslims protesting in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri attacked Christians and burned 15 churches in a three-hour rampage that killed at least 15 people. Some 30 other people have died during protests over the cartoons that erupted about three weeks ago. In Jakarta, about 400 people marched to the heavily fortified U.S. mission in the centre of the city, behind a banner reading "We are ready to attack the enemies of the Prophet." Protesters throwing stones and brandishing wooden staves tried to break through the gates. They set fire to U.S. flags and a poster of U.S. President George W. Bush and smashed the windows of a guard outpost before dispersing after a few minutes. The U.S. Embassy called the attacks deplorable, describing them as acts of "thuggery." I still do not see Peter MacKay MP making an statement on behalf of the the abused Christians. What Peter McKay also does still does not think Christians or Christianity the real peace loving relgion in Canada are important?

Posted by: paul | 2006-02-20 11:05:26 PM

Peter Mackay MP the same one who was too immature and who could not see that Belinda was unfaithful now even wants to tell us all as to how to behave. He does not have any of my rightful repsect.

Posted by: Smith | 2006-02-20 11:09:18 PM

Still trolling Logan? I don't agree with MacKay's comments either and I have close relatives in the forces, pehaps I should see a psych? Okay, if you'll pay, but then again it may be a person like me who drives them crazy. Loved your e-mail address by the way. Safe to hurl insults behind the annonimity. Grow a spine or is it to late for a hack like you?

Posted by: greg | 2006-02-20 11:22:52 PM

The department of foreign affairs is not there to keep Canadians happy, it's there to keep other countries happy with Canada. The department of smiley faces is there to keep Canadians happy, and the department of war is there to keep other countries unhappy with Canada.

While I'm not necessarily overjoyed with these artifacts of Westminster parliamentary democrary, it remains the case the Mr. MacKay is now the political head of foggy bottom; his job in practice is now to represent the department's position on the Prime Minister's policies.

It may be ugly, but carping without taking into account this reality won't produce positive change either. The game of life isn't that simple.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-02-20 11:25:28 PM

You said it!! here, here!!

Posted by: ceebee | 2006-02-20 11:35:17 PM

Here still is what Peter Mackay MP needs to worry about more and act upon too, to be concerned equally about all of the Canadians without discrimination now too, the majority of Canadians too, and still also the uancceptable the fact that not one bad Liberal that abused the taxpayers money in the federal sponsorship scandal not one still has spent one day in Jail. And even this is really unacceptable.. now do put them all into jail.. really. The undeniable and unacceptable sin of the liberal Paul Martin and his Liberals was this.. (Jer 5:27 KJV) 27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. 28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. (1 Tim 5:8 KJV) But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Posted by: paul | 2006-02-20 11:38:53 PM

Peter spent too much time with Scotty, Belindda and Joe Clark. He has the jello -spine syndrome.

Posted by: jema54j | 2006-02-20 11:56:37 PM

Peter may be correct in saying that dogs were more faithful than Belinda.........but I bet she wore the pants.

Peter......quit being such a "girlyman". Grow a backbone!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: notasocialist | 2006-02-21 5:34:39 AM

Over the years it became obvious to me that the
Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is (a) not
user friendly to Canadians,and (b) anti-Israeli.
We expect that under a new Harper government some
of the higher level bureaucrats in MFA be retired
or terminated. Minister MacKay is of concern because it is doubtful he has the background or
maturity to handle this portfolio, and I suspect that much of the political advice he receives is
from former PM Brian Mulroney. We work in the
international technology sector where Canada is
seen as an ally of the United States and the United Kingdom, as it should be. MacKay should
be removed from responsibility for ACOA, which he
has pledged to support; WS readers should be aware that every member of the ACOA Board is a
Liberal political appointee, as well as most if
not all senior bureaucrats. A conservative MP from Western Canada should have responsibility
for ACOA.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-21 5:41:03 AM

Why does it not occur to Mr MacKay that the risk to our soldiers in Afganistan might be reduced if Canadian Muslim leaders publicly asked their co-religionists in that country not to seek revenge on those soldiers for the publication of the cartoons?

More broadly, why do those leaders not urge their fellow Muslims in Afghanistan to cease their war against the legal and elected Afghan government that Canadian and other NATO/Coalition forces are assisting?

Most people seem think that that assistance is essentially a US policy. In fact the assistance is under the mandate of UN Security Council Resolution 1623 (2005), adopted unanimously. Moreover the mandate is under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the chapter that authorizes the use of force--unlike mandates under Chapter VI of the Charter which authorize "peacekeeping" missions.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2006-02-21 6:58:10 AM

Hey Paul , I`m glad to see you`re out for the week - end . You are converting us , one by one. I see that' Canadian ', has seen the light of sobriety as well, but Ralph Klein could really use more of your inspired wisdom . Don`t waste your talent on Peter McKay, Ralph needs your help , now.

Posted by: daveh | 2006-02-21 7:13:15 AM

If Peter MacKay wants to protect Canadians abroad, and if Gordon O'Connor wants terrorists in Afghanistan not to attack Canadian soldiers, the thing to do is terrorize the terrorists, not capitulate to a mob.

The risk to our soldiers in Afghanistan will be most efficaciously reduced by putting rounds through the right foreheads. Then, and only then, should we talk about respecting other peoples' religious or cultural sensitivities.

Posted by: Jim Whyte | 2006-02-21 8:40:44 AM

Oh, one other thing -- Ezra, when I post, it's a Red Tory talking.

Posted by: Jim Whyte | 2006-02-21 8:43:22 AM

Ezra, I agree with both your comments on Peter and your decision to print the cartoons in your great magazine.
Just wondering, does Peter plan on hiring a chauffeur as well??

Posted by: Dale Byford | 2006-02-21 9:22:46 AM

I suggest P. Mackay is the rest of old conservative flavour. Maybe with time he will get the main influence from his caucus. Otherwise, I'm afraid he will have to be shifted to another ministry.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-21 9:25:40 AM

Here is another thing Mackay should deal with. The Charities in Canada are unacceptably very poorly regulated by the Canada Revenue Agency still even for many many years . Where do the donations go? "Organization gives just 34 cents of every dollar to charitable expenses Ottawa Citizen Published: Sunday, December 11, 2005 According to RCMP Staff Sgt. Roger Martin, the officer in charge of National Missing Children Services, numerous charities are looking for money these days, and people have to be extra careful when donating. Abuses occur in many charitable sectors," he said. "But, when you have an emotional topic such as child abduction, you are touching people's hearts. Some people will exploit that to raise money, unfortunately." Charities in Canada are regulated by the Canada Revenue Agency, which monitors the finances of the organizations and tries to ensure they meet federal guidelines. According to the agency, more than 80,000 registered operating charities are in Canada. Yet, only 600 of the organizations less than one per cent of the total were subjected to financial audits last year. Under the income tax act, if a charity fails to meet federal guidelines, including proof that at least 80 per cent of all monies collected are spent directly on their programs, they will lose their charity status. Between Dec. 3, 2004 and Dec. 3, 2005, 1,946 charities had their licences revoked because they failed to operate their charity according to federal guidelines.

"We need real Justice with our bad governmental managers, unenforced or poorly enforced existing laws.. and it is no wonder you cannot deal effectively with tax edvaders, tax payer's money abusers, impaired, drunk drivers, drug pushers and drug users, and you also know they really even cannot catch, find the Islamic, Muslim terrorists in Canada and their donators too ehhh

Posted by: Pierre | 2006-02-21 9:26:32 AM

MacKay could've followed Condoleeza Rice's lead and pointed out the assistance the Syrian and Iranian governments have given to the violent mobs.
seems to assume that all Muslims are "autom
Or he could've pointed out that some Muslim leaders have brought fake cartoons to the middle east that are more offensive. He could've mentioned that most Muslims, including those here in Canada, are not violent wannabe cartoonist beheaders, and spoke about those Muslims in the middle east who are terrified by the violence done in the name of their religion.

Instead, he chose to imply that Ezra and the Jewish Free Press will put our troops in danger. What caused the attacks on our troops before the cartoons were published in Canada, Mr. MacKay?

Posted by: Angela | 2006-02-21 1:12:36 PM

...and what do our local/national Muslims groups know about such elevated threats upon our troops due to the publication of 40,000 magazines from western Canada?

Maybe we should keep our heads up and maybe even have "someone" should be brought in for questioning?

Posted by: wharold | 2006-02-21 1:30:12 PM

Peter Mackay has proven inept in cabinet, and parliament hasn't resumed yet. He can only improve, I suppose.

Posted by: Howard Roark | 2006-02-21 1:39:30 PM

Jack Straw undermines Tony Blair at every turn, and British foreign policy survives. Colin Powell was completely unconvincing in public, and completely unhelpful behind closed doors, delivering the Bush Doctrine to the world. Hopefully a Harper-led turn to the right will survive Potato Patch Petie, who is hopelessly out of his depth. But from day one I knew this was Harper's worst mistake.

Posted by: NCF TO | 2006-02-21 1:57:37 PM

Petie's first overseas meeting: tomorrow in London w/Jack Straw. They have a lot in common.

Posted by: NCF TO | 2006-02-21 2:00:13 PM

>Instead, he chose to imply that Ezra and the Jewish Free Press will put our troops in danger. What caused the attacks on our troops before the cartoons were published in Canada, Mr. MacKay?

MacKay seems to thinks that sleeping with the enemy will help his own cause and most Canadians for he basicaly too now is just another liberal Belinda Stromach.

Posted by: Canadian | 2006-02-21 2:07:40 PM

"What caused the attacks on our troops before the cartoons were published in Canada, Mr. MacKay?"

A good and very direct question, Angela -- what a shame we never get an answer to it.

Posted by: Jim Whyte | 2006-02-21 2:45:44 PM

I think there are lots of idiots out there already salivating in anticipation, ready to blame the next Canadian combat deaths on Ezra. Pathetic and stupid, but true.

Posted by: NCF TO | 2006-02-21 3:04:23 PM


Has anyone taken a look at this yet? Please tell me this isn't the next step MacKay will be taking. Talk about appalling. !

Posted by: Shannon | 2006-02-21 4:09:37 PM

It's a very good idea, appointing a Conservative MP from Western Canada to run ACOA. For the same reason an eastern MP should be making decisions about whether it suits Canada's interests as a whole to be continuing accelerated writeoffs and royalty holidays in the Tar Sands - given that the price of a barrel of oil is up far more than what it costs to extract one, all such subsidies should not only end, they should be paid back. Alberta's own government is suing Syncrude for unpaid royalties, so this is hardly a radical position. Getting tough on the oil industry is a price of power: you have to say no to your base. Who else will Alberta vote for? The NDP?

Back to ACOA, appointing a Western MP would also send the clear signal that the agency's days are numbered. That MP should simply walk around all over the region, repeating Mike Harris' comments from 2003, that the total amount of personal income tax paid by all Atlantic Canadians in the past decades was about equal to ACOA expenditures.

He should just ask them, "would you rather have ACOA, and endless political patronage, or have zero personal income tax until you're back on your feet, economically?" Then dispense favours openly to anyone promoting the Tory cause in the region, and make clear that this is all ACOA can ever do.

Eventually, they'll get the message, kill ACOA, let the ambassador go home to Western Canada, and accept more rational tax-cut schemes to redevelop the economy. If people who actually lived in the region fulltime paid zero personal income tax, it might be instrumental in sparking the economy. A lot of rich people with nothing to do during the long winter all talking to each other, moving all their head offices to Halifax instead of Bermuda (as CITCO recently did, it's hardly a pipe dream) will come up with a lot of good ideas.

Posted by: Edmond Smuts | 2007-03-24 6:05:26 PM

Thanks edmond it was helpful info.

Posted by: קורות חיים | 2008-02-23 5:34:21 AM

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