In the January 31 edition of the Globe and Mail, Mideast correspondent Patrick Martin myopically scoffed at Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty for impressing upon the Palestinian leadership that it should abandon its gambit towards the procurement of United Nations recognition and return to the negotiating table with Israel “without preconditions.”
The front-page and above-the-fold article saw Martin uttering disdain for these blunt messages, as the “Ottawa tag-team” as he put it, had allegedly overstepped the boundaries of accepted political discourse or as this reporter describes “It was chutzpah of the highest order.” Such a charged statement was surprising coming from a journalist who is duty-bound to repress his personal opinions in the interests of fairness and impartiality. Instead, these Canadian pronouncements echo not only the Quartet’s formula calling for the resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, they also represent the wishes of the U.S. administration and the UN which call for a negotiated peace agreement.
For Canada to stake out the position that peace talks must preface Palestinian statehood and that we should stop negotiating about the negotiating process and advance to direct face-to-face peace talks, reflects a sober and refreshing message that the Canadian government is sending to the Palestinian leadership. The only thing that was “chutzpadik” was Mr. Martin’s contemptuous discourse.