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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ignatieff: "Not losing sleep" over Qana

Despite my recent criticisms, I genuinely like Michael Ignatieff. He's clearly one of the world's foremost academics in the fields of human rights and international relations. I disagree strongly with his views on Iraq and Afghanistan, but agree with his positions on most domestic issues. Even his op-ed yesterday, which I criticized for coming out too late, was well reasoned, compelling and thoughtful. I agreed with much of what he said there, too. Michael Ignatieff is a good, smart and decent man whose contribution to the Liberal Party will be tremendous, regardless of the outcome of this leadership race. I've always said that if he becomes leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, I'll support him.

It's just statements like these that make me wonder if he's ready for prime time. With reference to the tragedy in Qana, he argues in the Toronto Star that the situation was inevitable and says: "This is the kind of dirty war you're in when you have to do this and I'm not losing sleep about that."

"Not losing sleep about that." Perhaps that's why it took him so long to make a statement.

I'm sorry to say it, Dr. Ignatieff, but I do lose sleep about that. I lose sleep because I know that every dead Lebanese civilian serves to embolden those who hate Israel. In your own words from your Globe piece, you say that Qana "is a victory for Hezbollah" which hopes to "lure Israel into an escalation of violence that will radicalize the Arab world and cause Israel to lose its remaining international support." I lose sleep over the thought of a radicalized Arab world and an isolated Israel. Peace will never exist under such conditions.

This is precisely why Bob Rae, Stephane Dion, Gerard Kennedy and others called for Canada to act quickly in helping to diffuse the situation. It took them a mere days to realize that further escalation of this conflict is not in Israel's best interest, nor is it in Lebanon's. It took Michael Ignatieff three weeks to come to the same conclusion. As he himself states, he waited until the situation reached a point of imminent "catastrophic violence" before "figuring out when was the time when a statement would be important and relevant."

Note to Michael Ignatieff: You're running to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Presumably, you also hope to become Prime Minister of Canada. Prime Ministers don't wait for a point of "imminent catastrophic violence" to come before acting. Are you really suggesting otherwise? If you are, then you've once again proven why you would be the wrong choice for Liberal leader in December.