Patrick Brown, mayor of Brampton (a Toronto suburb) and running for leader of Canada’s Conservative Party, recently took an unexpected stand on Palestine. When asked whether he believes there’s a double standard in how Canada proactively addresses the unnecessary harm done to Ukrainians but not Palestine he replied:
“I do. That’s why I have been speaking out against the violence in Palestine. … I think Canada needs to have a balanced foreign policy and far too often has not been balanced in the Middle East. … I am not interested in being a sheep that follows others. If I am prime minister, I am going to do what I feel is right.”
Yet according to the National Post, “Brown’s team suggested that the leadership contender’s views were ‘not accurately represented in the article.”
This already sounds like Brown is being cautioned not to defend Palestine by its hateful opponents. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. The presence of the Israeli lobby is ubiquitous and is always pushing back against, if not threatening, those who so much as allude to Palestinian suffering under oppressive Israeli rule.
Patrick. We—albeit never close friends—went to high school together: St. Michael’s College. It was a place that taught us principles about how to be good. However, it’s clear that since we graduated you and I took different paths in how we seek to manifest that politically. You’re on the right, I’m on the left. You’re capitalist, I’m socialist. You aspire toward the leadership of political parties; I generally detest them. For, as Christian anarchist and philosopher Simone Weil astutely observes:
“Political parties are a marvelous mechanism which, on the national scale, ensures that not a single mind can attend to the effort of perceiving common public affairs, what is good, what is just, what is true. As a result—except for a very small number of fortuitous incidences—nothing is decided, nothing is executed, but measures that run contrary to the public interest, to justice ant to truth.”
If one were to entrust the organization of public life to the devil, he could not invent more a clever device.
Despite our differences, we ought—in keeping with what St. Michael’s taught us—never compromise our resolve, stray from morally sound judgments once we’ve made them. Please remember this. I commend you for siding with Palestine but it sounds like some are trying to get you to veer. They want you to apologize for your statement.
You know what you said it right. The Palestinian people should never be forced to suffer at all, let alone on account of the Canadian government’s complicity, such as making arms available to Israel. Retain at least that degree of courage you demonstrated in being critical of Canada’s response to Palestinian oppression, something most Canadian leaders will not do once throughout their tenure. Say no to the lobby. It is incumbent on all Canadian leaders to engage in such “bad” behavior. Where they cower to the lobby those leaders betray Palestine.
Call that evil or sin. One need not be religious to recognize that turning their back on Palestine is wholly deplorable. It may, in certain circles, win you votes; more importantly, it means Israel, with greater ease, can continue to oppress and brutalize Palestine.
I don’t believe you want that. St. Michael’s taught us better.
Upholding what is right—the truth that Palestine must once and for all be free—trumps popularity.
– Paul Salvatori is a Toronto-based journalist, community worker and artist. Much of his work on Palestine involves public education, such as through his recently created interview series, “Palestine in Perspective” (The Dark Room Podcast), where he speaks with writers, scholars and activists. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.