Citizen Action Monitor

NDP dodges request to explain why Wheeldon’s comments were “unacceptable and contrary to NDP policy”

An analysis of the NDP’s reasons for terminating the candidate do not stand up to critical scrutiny. Wheeldon should be reinstated.

No 1432 Posted by fw, August 24, 2015

NOTE: Just so readers know, I am an NDP donor, supporter, have an NDP candidate’s sign on my lawn, and will likely vote NDP. But I am also a progressive who wants to nudge the NDP away from an over-reliance on policy platitudes to defend its barely disguised pro-Israel, Middle East positions: To shift from clichés and towards speaking truthfully, forcefully and courageously about Israel’s blatant atrocities against Palestinians. In my view, the centre-right NDP’s Mideast policies are little more than window-dressing in an attempt to separate the party from the election jockeying going on among all three centre-right contenders.

And I worry that, once in power, Thomas Mulcair might become another control freak, in the style of Stephen Harper, and the NDP might morph into Tory lite. As noted, NDP policies are centre-right, not social-democratic as they once were. I suspect that if the NDP leadership had its druthers they would expel me as an NDP supporter: if candidates can be cut loose for no good reason, why not disobedient progressive supporters who won’t get with the election plan. Would democracy remain at risk under an NDP government?

To illustrate that the NDP still champions Israel, consider my analysis below of five pieces of recent correspondence between myself and an NDP representative regarding the forced resignation of Morgan Wheeldon. I contacted the NDP through its website to find out precisely what it was about Wheeldon’s Facebook comments that prompted the NDP to dump him.

First, this update

The latest victim of Tom Mulcair’s political purge of candidates and would-be candidates is Syed Hyder Ali, who had been hoping to run for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin. He has been refused the opportunity to do so. Why? Apparently for daring to state in a Facebook post that Israel has committed “war crimes.” This was considered so heinous that his own riding association, including any rivals for the nomination, could not be trusted to bury him for it. The NDP powermeisters in Ottawa wielded the spades. (Source: Mulcair’s orange purge, continued by J. Baglow, rabble.ca, August 17, 2015).

Moreover, Baglow reminds us that the purge of NDP candidates actually began last year when the NDP blocked Paul Manly, the son of former NDP MP Jim Manly, from seeking the 2015 bid in BC.

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Critical analysis of  5 pieces of NDP correspondence

The correspondence

1/ August 13, 2015 — My message submitted using an NDP website form –

Dear Tom — I strongly urge the NDP to reinstate Morgan Wheeldon as the candidate for the Nova Scotia riding of Kings-Hant, presuming, of course, that he is willing to accept the offer after shamefully being forced to resign. My reasons for urging this action are presented in two posts on my blog, Citizen Action Monitor: NDP caves to smear campaign against Nova Scotia candidate’s anti-Israel comments, accepts his resignation and Tell the NDP to support – not silence — candidates who speak the truth about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

*****

2/ August 13, 4:54 PM – NDP RESPONSE (from unnamed source) –

Subject: RE: Forced resignation of Morgan Wheeldon

Dear Frank White,

Thank ‎you for sharing your concerns about former NDP candidate Morgan Wheeldon’s resignation.

We recognize the effort it takes to step forward as a candidate, and the responsibility that comes with seeking public office under the NDP banner.  Mr. Wheeldon’s comments, which minimized the horror of violence targeting civilians, were unacceptable and contrary to NDP policy, which condemns terrorism. 

Comments like these make no meaningful contribution to the goal of peace and justice in the Middle East or to a two-state solution that would see Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in independent states. 

After ten years of Stephen Harper’s government, Canadians are looking to New Democrats to bring balance and a focus on peace to Canada’s approach to the Middle East.

Please be assured that the NDP is fully committed to working with partners for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine, within a framework of respect for United Nations resolutions and international law.  This includes recognition of the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace in viable, independent states with negotiated and agreed-upon borders.

NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar has repeatedly and directly raised issues related to this conflict with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, including the issue of settlements, the destruction of the village of Susiya, and humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

New Democrats believe that Canada can be an important voice ‎for peace and justice in the Middle East and we are committed to realizing that vision.

Yours sincerely,

Canada’s New Democrats

*****

3/ August 13 — MY 8:42 PM EMAIL

Dear Canada’s New Democrats,

Thank you for your prompt response.

With regard to your sentence — “Mr. Wheeldon’s comments, which minimized the horror of violence targeting civilians, were unacceptable and contrary to NDP policy, which condemns terrorism” – please send a verbatim quote of Wheeldon’s comment, the context in which it was made, and a citation of or hyperlink to the published source.

And please elaborate on the closing words in the sentence: “…which condemns ‘terrorism’.”

Finally, I presume any response to this email and the one below will be “on the record” and could be used in a post on my blog.

*****

4/ August 20 – MY FOLLOW-UP EMAIL

When the NDP did not reply to my August 13, 8:42 PM message, I followed up with a copy of the unanswered email and a second request for a response.

*****

5/ August 21 — NDP RESPONSE (Again from unnamed source) –

Thank ‎you for sharing your concerns about former NDP candidate Morgan Wheeldon’s resignation.

We recognize the effort it takes to step forward as a candidate, and the responsibility that comes with seeking public office under the NDP banner.  Mr. Wheeldon’s comments, which minimized the horror of violence targeting civilians, were unacceptable and contrary to NDP policy, which condemns terrorism. 

Comments like these make no meaningful contribution to the goal of peace and justice in the Middle East or to a two-state solution that would see Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in independent states. 

After ten years of Stephen Harper’s government, Canadians are looking to New Democrats to bring balance and a focus on peace to Canada’s approach to the Middle East.

Please be assured that the NDP is fully committed to working with partners for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine, within a framework of respect for United Nations resolutions and international law.  This includes recognition of the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace in viable, independent states with negotiated and agreed-upon borders.

NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar has repeatedly and directly raised issues related to this conflict with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, including the issue of settlements, the destruction of the village of Susiya, and humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

New Democrats believe that Canada can be an important voice ‎for peace and justice in the Middle East and we are committed to realizing that vision.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

*****

My critical analysis of the NDP responses

The NDP’s August 21 reply simply repeats, word-for-word, their August 13 response — completely ignoring my request for clarification re the precise meaning, context, and source of their unsubstantiated claim:

“Mr. Wheeldon’s comments, which minimized the horror of violence targeting civilians, were unacceptable and contrary to NDP policy, which condemns terrorism. Comments like these make no meaningful contribution to the goal of peace and justice in the Middle East or to a two-state solution that would see Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in independent states.”

Fortunately, I was able to track down a copy of Wheeldon’s comments. According to the Conservative attack website meettheNDP.ca, Wheeldon’s comment was retrieved from Facebook, posted to the site on August 31, 2014:

“One could argue that Israel’s intention was always to ethnically cleanse the region — there are direct quotations proving this to be the case….Guess we just sweep that under the rug. A minority of Palestinians are bombing buses in response to what appears to be a calculated effort to commit a war crime.”

I have no confirming evidence that this is a complete and accurate copy of Wheeldon‘s remarks. Nevertheless, since the NDP ducked my request to copy me the candidate’s offensive comment, I presume they had the same passage.

For my own personal clarification, I have rewritten Wheeldon’s last sentence:

A minority of Palestinians are bombing buses in response to what appears to be a calculated effort by Israelis to ethnically cleanse the region, thereby committing a war crime.”

This version clarifies NDP’s criticism that Wheeldon minimized the horror of violence by Palestinians targeting civilians by bombing buses.

Given this clarification, let’s unpack what I view as the NDP’s pro-Israel / anti-Palestinian interpretation of Wheeldon’s comments:

The NDP immediately singles out Palestinians for “the horror” of their violence targeting Israeli civilians by bombing buses.

The NDP is quick to criticize Wheeldon for having “minimized the horror of [this] violence” against Israeli civilians.

The NDP makes no mention of Wheeldon’s evidence-based truthful contention: “One could argue that Israel’s intention was always to ethnically cleanse the region. See, for example: US law professor summarizes Israel’s extensive war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The NDP ignored my request for clarification on their use of the loaded term ‘terrorism’. They don’t bother to explain: Terrorism by whom? What constitutes terrorism? Is it always and only Hamas that is guilty of terrorism? Israel routinely justifies its military actions as a right of self-defence, while labeling Hamas’ actions as terrorism. In fact, the justification for legitimate armed resistance has been specifically applied to the Palestinian people repeatedly. See, Palestine: Legitimate Armed Resistance vs. Terrorism.

Is there any doubt that the NDP was singling out Hamas when it tacked on the word “terrorism” to its condemnation: “Mr. Wheeldon’s comments…were unacceptable and contrary to NDP policy, which condemns terrorism.? Moreover, the NDP clearly ignored the inconvenient truth of Israel’s ‘terrorism”, i.e., the deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza. See, Independent investigation details Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza.

To criticize Wheeldon because he allegedlyminimized the horror of Palestinian violence targeting civilians” only perpetuates the fiction that the Israelis are the victims. In fact, Israel’s military actions in Gaza in July – August of 2014 were responsible for the deaths of 2,220 Gazans, of whom 1,492 were civilians, 605 militants and 123 unverified.

It’s unclear whether or not the NDP bothered to ask Wheeldon for his side of the story. I’m guessing “not”. In the light of the foregoing evidence, can there be any remaining doubt that the NDP’s rejection of the candidate was biased and unjustified?

Rather than focusing exclusively on providing information directly related to my concerns, the NDP seized the opportunity to lace their emails with political messages, including, for example: “After ten years of Stephen Harper’s government…”; “Please be assured that the NDP is fully committed…”; “New Democrats believe that Canada can be an important voice…” As a result, little progress was made in ensuring my requests for information were fully addressed. Or that the NDP was finally going to move beyond platitudes to at long last recognize that progressive voters like me deserve to be assured that the Party has a responsibly informed grasp of the facts of the Israel – Palestine conflict and will, in future, act accordingly.

Clearly, as this analysis proves, the NDP had no just cause to force the resignation of Mr. Wheeldon. He should be reinstated.

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