No 1433 Posted by fw, August 26, 2015
“The NDP’s stance in barring any criticism of Israel is undemocratic and wrong. Morgan Wheeldon and Jerry Natanine were not breaking confidence with a democratically-determined party policy platform, or engaged in any such mutiny. They have uttered words critical of Israel, in contexts of democratic discourse.” —Joseph Hickey, Exec. Director
The above passage appears in a strongly-worded letter from the Executive Director of the Ontario Civil Liberties Association to NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.
The OCLA’s letter — framed in a civil liberties context — which I came across just this morning, supports the position that I arrived at based on my analysis of the content of two NDP emails sent to me: NDP dodges request to explain why Wheeldon’s comments were “unacceptable and contrary to NDP policy” . In that piece, I argued that the NDP’s reasons for terminating the candidate do not stand up to critical scrutiny. Wheeldon should be reinstated.
The OCLA letter can be viewed on its website by clicking on the following linked title. Alternatively, below is a reposted copy.
Ontario Civil Liberties Association
August 20, 2015
The Honourable Thomas J. Mulcair
Re: Freedom of expression of party candidates Honourable Member Mulcair:
Recently, Morgan Wheeldon’s NDP candidacy was summarily revoked by your office for past Facebook comments on Israel made in the context of political discourse. He used the word “cleanse”, which was also used by former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. This and other terms – such as “mowing the grass” – are common in Israel’s mainstream media, regarding the politics of the occupation.
Jerry Natanine recently also suffered the same fate.
All candidates of all parties in Canada’s federal election should have free speech concerning all matters, including the conduct of Israel. Free speech is a necessary condition for democratic participation and decision making.
Candidates and members of Parliament, like regular citizens, must be free to express both opinions and recommendations, especially on matters of national interest such as Israel and the conflicts in the Middle East.
Without a free and vibrant exchange on the most important questions for the nation, there cannot be valid and tested knowledge, or valid and tested moral positions. This is a natural law of democracy. Cleansing or suppressing expression is antithetical to democracy, and, as such, cannot be justified by any image-management device or imposition.
The NDP’s stance in barring any criticism of Israel is undemocratic and wrong. Morgan Wheeldon and Jerry Natanine were not breaking confidence with a democratically-determined party policy platform, or engaged in any such mutiny. They have uttered words critical of Israel, in contexts of democratic discourse.
Your actions are incompatible with your claim of seeking a balanced approach. A balanced, informed, and tested approach cannot be found by suppressing free expression among potential and actual law makers.
The OCLA asks that you correct your stance on free speech regarding issues of public concern, that you allow democracy to operate rather than suppressing vital discussions, and that you offer reinstatement to Morgan Wheeldon and Jerry Natanine.
It is the OCLA’s considered position that imposed ideological purity of expression on major conflicts cannot be a criterion for candidate selection in Canada.
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA)
Cc: Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer, by fax
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