This morning I woke up to find in my inbox an email from a human rights group urging me to contact the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding the Israeli attack on an aid flotilla headed for Gaza. Ordinarily, I would click straight through. Today I decided not to bother.

As a lifelong supporter of social and political justice for the oppressed and disenfranchised around the world, I’ve always added my voice to those of other like-minded individuals and organisations who speak out about atrocities such as this one. I have written letters and emails, attended demonstrations, made phone calls. These activities reflect the values I grew up with, and they’re the values people around the world ascribe to Canada.

I’ve lived in the UK for several years now, but my family is still in Canada and I return often. These days, I barely recognise the place. The contempt in which the Harper government holds Canada’s historical commitment to decency and human rights is on vivid display each day in the political thuggery and racism with which they pollute the Parliament of my country. This thuggery is enabled by the moral cowardice of the putative ‘opposition’ parties who are unfazed by Israeli aggression and Canada’s complicity in it. And it’s reflected in an utterly supine media whose relentlessly biased coverage lays the groundwork for equivocation and obfuscation when grotesque horrors like this flotilla attack occur. Tuesday’s convoluted editorial headline in The Globe and Mail – ‘Disproportionate force feeds propaganda against Israel’, whereby the ‘real’ story is propaganda against Israel rather than its own criminal behaviour – is just the latest example of this exercise in spin. The fact that the paper runs unchallenged the ludicrous and implausible claims generated by the IDF’s PR department is simply insult and injury in equal measure.

Left unchecked, the legacy of this government will be to squander irrevocably Canada’s good standing within the international community. The thing we seem to forget is that Canada belongs to Canadians, not to Stephen Harper. We’re the only people who can rescue our own history. It’s time we all reached for our lifebelts.

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