August 02, 2006

Aug. 2, 2006: The Left silences witnesses

Alexa and Friends ... silence witnesses who might not agree with them, the leftists / NDP / Liberal Opposition MP's, before Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament

Shut out witnesses -- "CCD condemns silencing of Lebanese witnesses by Opposition MPs at Foreign Affairs Committee" -- "Opposition MPs, mainly led by Alexa McDonough of the NDP" Wednesday, 2 August, 2006

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.

CCD strongly condemns Alexa McDonough and other Opposition MPs for excluding Lebanese, CIDA and Red Cross voices with first-hand experience on the situation in Lebanon from providing testimony to a committee whose mandate was specifically the tragic situation in Lebanon.

Note: The Testimony is below.


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