Yom Kippur may have passed without much fanfare in Canada, as it does when one is in a Christian dominated… well, mostly everywhere. Yom Kippur is a Jewish Holiday. Its English Translation pegs it as a Day of Atonement, a time to reflect on the past year’s sins and trespasses. Given the grave decisions our politicians have to make in the next week, maybe we should all take some time to reflect—Jew and Gentile alike.
Prime Minister Harper is rushing us into Iraq, waving the threat of electoral defeat before the opposition parties to force them to agree. Yet, he apparently does not wish to reflect on why we’re going into Iraq when he didn’t have us go into the Congo (among others).
Mr. Mulcair wants the government to reflect on preparing to go to war. This comes after Mr. Harper’s rather threatening comment, which can be interpreted as him goading the Opposition into voting against the motion: “there is rarely political upside in supporting any kind of military action, and little political risk in opposing it.” Mulcair said it was undignified to “ascribe motives in that way” as though his opponent was politicizing something that shouldn’t be politicized. I didn’t realize war wasn’t political.
Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau ought to reflect on the comments he made Thursday and Friday about our aircraft. The message questioning our military capability thanks to the Tory cuts was lost in his youthful flippancy. Ottawa is used to politicians saying stupid things; it isn’t used to the less dusty politicians using modern jargon.
Whatever happened to the days when the PM would stand in the house and, with reference to his Opposition, say, “there are few men in this parliament for whom I have greater respect…I admire him in my heart, because time and time again he has had the courage to say what lays on his conscience, regardless of what the world may think of him. A man of that calibre is an ornament to any parliament”? Ah, those were swell times in Canadian politics. Our politicians respected each other and their opinions—at least when it came to affairs of war. Those were the words Mackenzie King said about the leader of the CCF—the sole objector of his party to WWII, J.S. Woodsworth. Sadly, those men are long gone, and the two men with all the experience in our current parliament who aren’t “in over their head” can’t even come close to that.
The two other leaders in Parliament may be slightly different, particularly the only female leader of a political party represented in the House of Commons: Elizabeth May. She did take a dig at her opponents about how she was the only MP who opposed bombing Libya. But she then put partisanship aside and called for us to actually think about this carefully. Granted that’s what Trudeau and Mulcair also said, but she said it prettiest: “let us try to look at the lessons of history before going to war again.” Feel free to read her speech and the unedited versions of the others.
She is right, you know. Yom Kippur may have passed already, but we should still reflect on our past transgressions and trespasses before we do anything we might regret later. According to the polls, less than a third of Canadians strongly support a mission in Iraq while fifty five percent of Canadians don’t feel too strongly either for or against it. Those numbers seem to call to me to do as Ms. May says and think. Then again some of us have our leaders do all the thinking for us.