A Conservative MP has accused New Democrats of an "anti-Israel agenda" after the NDP's foreign affairs critic questioned why Canada helped thwart an international plan to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
John Carmichael, who represents the Toronto riding of Don Valley West, made the charge in statement in the House of Commons Wednesday that singled out the NDP's Paul Dewar.
In question period a day earlier, Dewar said Canada was "sitting on the sidelines" while the international community works to eliminate the threat of nukes. He said Conservatives "played the spoiler role" late last month by blocking consensus at United Nations nuclear non-proliferation treaty talks.
"Why is the government not working with our allies constructively to free the world from nuclear weapons?" Dewar asked.
Canada joined the United States and Britain in opposing a document urging the UN to hold a disarmament conference on the Middle East by 2016. Some saw the plan as an attempt to embarrass Israel, as such a conference could have forced the Jewish state to publicly acknowledge for the first time that it is a nuclear power.
Canada's decision, which ultimately helped stymie weeks of negotiations, sparked international disappointment. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the stand.
And though Dewar’s question this week did not make any mention of Israel, it was enough for Carmichael to conclude a "veil" had been lifted.
The Tory backbencher said that, like the U.S. and U.K., Canada won't support policies that serve to isolate and humiliate Israel.
Carmichael also alleged the NDP has a "long anti-Israel history," highlighting how Vancouver East MP Libby Davies called the Jewish state "the longest occupation in the world" at a 2010 protest.
"Unlike the NDP, this Conservative government not only recognizes Israel's right to exist but its inherent right to defend itself by itself," he concluded.
Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander Also Weighs In
Later in question period, Tory MP Mark Adler suggested Dewar revealed the "true colour of the NDP's foreign policy." He then lobbed a softball question at Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, asking him to update the House on the government’s position on the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Alexander said the government remains committed to strengthening the treaty but will only back a "legitimate" conference process in the Middle East addressing the concerns of all countries, including Israel.
"Unlike the NDP, which pursues policies that isolate Israel in the Middle East, Canada and this government will continue to stand with our friend and ally for democracy, freedom, and the rule of law," he said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson is visiting Israel this week for the first time since he took on the portfolio in February. He expressed Canada's "unwavering support" for the Jewish state in a meeting with Netanyahu Wednesday.
"We understand that Israel’s neighbourhood is as dangerous as Canada's is peaceful," Nicholson said.
With files from The Canadian Press
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