Is the Manitoba NDP preparing a public witch hunt, or at least a private spanking, of members who attended George Galloway’s Nov. 26 speech in Winnipeg? That certainly is the impression left by an article by Rhonda Spivak in the Winnipeg Jewish Review entitled BRANDON NDP WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION ENDORSES GALLOWAYS SPEECH IN WINNIPEG NOV 26.
In the article, Spivak trots out all the shop-worn distortions of Galloway’s anti-war and anti-Zionist activities and quotes Manitoba’s Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick as saying:
“It is important to know that this issue was not brought before Greg Selinger, the Leader of Manitoba the New Democratic Party nor the Manitoba NDP Provincial Council. This action is neither sanctioned nor endorsed by either the Premier or the Manitoba NDP. The NDP Brandon Women’s Association does not represent the Manitoba NDP on this issue . . .
“I want to ensure people that the Manitoba NDP is taking this incident very seriously and are already looking into the matter.”
For those unfamiliar with Manitoba NDP code, “taking this incident very seriously” is code for “someone’s gonna pay.” It’s the same language used by Education Minister Nancy Allan after B’nai Brith complained about a provincial high school examination question. The offending question — “Explain whether or not you think people in the entertainment industry have a responsibility for making the world a better place?” — was asked with reference to an essay entitled “Over the Rocks and Stones” by pop star Chantal Kreviazuk. Among many other things totally unrelated to questions of human suffering, Kreviazuk’s essay describes the struggle for life of a badly injured Palestinian boy and his family’s pain. An objective reader would be hard pressed to find evidence that hatred of Israel was being promoted.
Allan’s eagerness to roll over for B’nai Brith was widely ridiculed; even the Winnipeg Free Press editorial board, normally a perennial cheerleader for all things zionist, concluded that Allan had been too easily stampeded, that she should “respond rationally” in situations like this and “let the department do its work free of political meddling and public nitpicking.”
Back to the present. I’ve heard that functionaries in the Brandon Cabinet Office were not amused by the uppity women who endorsed Galloway’s event. Whether this goes farther remains to be seen. Surely if the NDP heavyweights start trying to muscle Seymour and others over their attendance at the Galloway meeting, it will be time for them to remove the word “Democratic” from their party’s name. Ditto for “New” which is really shop-worn after all these years.
Readers who share my outrage are encouraged to express themselves in a polite, but assertive reminder to Minister Melnick that Canada remains a free country where all, even NDP members, are entitled to the freedoms associated with a democracy. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.