rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

NDP candidate axed over Israel comments shows triumph of neo-conservative dogma

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Image: Flickr/Broadbent Institute // Institut Broadbent

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

It would seem that, as with climate change, any serious discussion or criticism of Israel is now essentially forbidden in mainstream politics in Canada -- including within the NDP.

On the heels of backtracking on a perfectly reasonable and, in fact, scientifically factual comment made by star candidate Linda McQuaig about the tarsands, the NDP has now, quite literally, erased the candidacy of Morgan Wheeldon in Nova Scotia over comments he made critical of Israel's attacks on the Palestinians.

His name was taken off the party website, his own website wiped clean and he was thrown under the bus entirely by senior party strategist Brad Lavigne:

Our position on the conflict in the Middle East is clear, as Tom Mulcair expressed clearly in the debate. Mr. Wheeldon's comments are not in line with that policy and he is no longer our candidate. We were made aware of some information that had not previously been disclosed. When we approached Mr. Wheeldon with this information he submitted his resignation.

The information that "had not previously been disclosed," is a quote that the Conservatives dug up and put on an attack site dedicated to cherry-picking NDP candidate comments and presenting them out of context. Wheeldon had, in 2014, said on Facebook:

One could argue that Israel's intention was always to ethnically cleanse the region — there are direct quotations proving this to be the case. Guess we just sweep that under the rug. A minority of Palestinians are bombing buses in response to what appears to be a calculated effort to commit a war crime

Setting aside for the moment that, even out of context, there is nothing he said here that is particularly inflammatory and that one can make a very strong case that Israel has committed war crimes, this sets yet another terrible precedent and reflects how, on some issues, the neo-conservative right has succeeded in shutting down all meaningful discussion and debate in our political discourse.

Is it really now the case that you cannot run for the NDP if you have ever been publicly critical of Israel in any serious way? Given Wheeldon and Paul Manly before him, it certainly would appear so -- and that is ludicrously anti-democratic and wrong-headed.

Where does this end? His are by no means the only controversial comments on the Conservative site. Are the other candidates -- aside from those too well-known for the NDP to do this with, like McQuaig -- to be erased as well?

This ugly and seemingly inexorable push by the NDP to insist on absolutely mindless unity and unanimity by all candidates and MPs on all issues that have been pronounced upon by the leader and his inner-circle strategists is a symptom of the dumbing-down of mainstream bourgeois politics generally. In 2015 the diversity and contrast of positions and policies between any of the major parties is more narrow than at any other time in our country's modern political history.

More dangerously, though, it allows the Conservatives and the neo-conservative movement, more broadly, to set the limits on what is and what is not allowed to be said, criticized or debated.

The consequence is that, no matter who gets elected, on certain issues like Israel or fundamentally tackling climate change, one variation or another of the Harper government and neo-conservative position and vision is what Canada is going to get.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Image: Flickr/Broadbent Institute // Institut Broadbent

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.