Canadian News

Chrystia Freeland implies Israel is an 'authoritarian,' 'anti-democratic' regime

"We are living in a world where there is a worrying rise of authoritarian regimes, a worrying rise of anti-democratic populism, and our country in that world will always stand up for human rights."

Noah David Alter Toronto
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Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland proclaimed Canada's opposition to "authoritarian" and "anti-democratic" regimes when asked about why the Canadian government has refused to support Israel at the United Nations on Thursday.

Freeland's comments were made during question period upon being questioned by Conservative MP Michael Chong.

"Last year, the Liberals broke with Canadian policy in pursuit of a UN Security Council seat," Michael Chong stated, noting that Canada won six fewer votes than during Canada's previous attempt at the seat. Chong called it "a damning indictment of this government's foreign policy."

Canada suffered an embarrassing defeat back in June in its bid to secure a UN Security Council seat. Canada was beaten by Ireland and Norway, who each secured 20 and 22 more votes than Canada respectively.

The Trudeau government invested a great deal of effort into winning the seat, with Trudeau having toured Africa in search of political support even as protesters blockaded highways, bridges, and railways across the country.

Continuing his question, Chong inquired "when will this government restore Canada's long-standing opposition to these anti-Israel resolutions that were upheld by previous Liberal and Conservative governments and put in place by Prime Minister Paul Martin?"

Canada voted in favour of two anti-Israel UN resolutions in 2019. The first resolution, co-sponsored by North Korea and Zimbabwe, referred to Israel as an "occupying power" and specifically included the eastern half of Israel's capital, Jerusalem, as occupied territory. Canada's vote in favour of the resolution clashed with long-standing Canadian policy to vote against anti-Israel resolutions at the international body, regardless of their merit, due to the obsessive and unique focus the United Nations endows upon the Jewish state.

Trudeau reassured the Jewish community the next month during a Hanukkah ceremony at Parliament Hill that Canada would remain committed to supporting Israel, but that the government wanted to signal its commitment to "two-states-for-two-peoples." The Canadian government, however, once again voted in favour of the anti-Israel resolution later that month. The CEO of B'nai Brith described the decision as a stain on Canada's reputation, while the Conservative Party ripped the vote as a "betrayal of our ally." Then-United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Halley blasted Canada's vote as "cultural corruption playing out in real time."

"Let me speak to Canada's place in the world and to our foreign policy," Freeland began to answer. "We are living in a world where there is a worrying rise of authoritarian regimes, a worrying rise of anti-democratic populism, and our country in that world will always stand up for human rights."

"That may not always be popular, Mr. Speaker, but that is the Canadian way," Freeland finished.

Conservatives immediately expressed outrage at Freeland's comment.

Freeland, who formerly served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, had previously described Canada's support for Israel as "ironclad" and proclaimed the government to be committed to supporting Israel's right to defend itself "whether it is from Iran or from terrorist groups such as Hamas." Freeland's latest comment, combined with Canada's recent voting record at the UN, calls into question this commitment.

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