26 November 2010
The government of Canada will not participate in events next year at the United Nations commemorating the controversial 2001 Durban declaration on racism. Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the “government has lost faith in the Durban process. We will not be part of this event, which commemorates an agenda that promotes racism rather than combats it. Canada will not participate in this charade any longer. The government of Canada will not lend Canada's good name to the organized exercise in scapegoating the State of Israel] that is the Durban process."
Last week, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to hold a one-day plenary in September 2011 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the first Durban conference in 2001. Last year, nine governments including Canada, the United States, Australia, Israel, Germany and Britain boycotted the UN Durban Review Conference (nicknamed ‘Durban II’) because of fears Israel would again be singled out for criticism. Kenney claimed that those concerns were confirmed when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the conference as a platform to launch a vicious attack on Israel. The Iranian president’s speech sparked a temporary walkout by delegates of 23 Western states and overshadowed the core issue of rising racism, discrimination and xenophobia.
The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) welcomed the decision. CJC President Mark J. Freiman (pictured on the right) declared: "Both Durban I and II, ostensibly aimed at fighting racism, turned out be little more than concerted anti-Semitic charades that set back the real fight against racism and discrimination by decades. This UN process is fundamentally flawed and by now beyond repair. All that can be expected are attempts to build on the poisonous record and accordingly the process must be condemned without reservation.”
CJC Chief Executive Bernie M. Farber recalled that, "the Canadian Jewish delegation walked out of the initial Durban Conference in 2001. In 2009, Canada led the way by becoming the first country in the world to boycott this poisonous UN-sponsored sham. Today, we remain proud of our Governments' previous positions, and we are proud of this current position. Once again, Canada is taking the lead in refusing to dignify the travesty known as the UN World Conference Against Racism. We congratulate Minister Kenney on his unrelenting stand in the fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred."
Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff of the Liberal Party gave his support to the government on this issue, calling the first Durban conference “a festival of racism against Israel and the Jewish people that Canada was right to condemn." He declared: "Sadly, while a decade has passed, the Durban conferences remain a staging ground for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements. Canada should absolutely not participate in the Durban III conference or countenance in any way these hateful views.”
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