Why Baaklini is still in Canada?
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Letters to the National Post
Re: Why is He Still Here? Editorial, Jan. 18.
Lebanese Ambassador Raymond Baaklini set off a firestorm with his accusation that "Jews and Zionists" dominate the Canadian media. The slurs against Canadian Jews were deplorable enough, but the Lebanese people were, ironically, the greatest victims of all. Mr. Baaklini's job is to serve as the principal Lebanese diplomat in Canada. Yet his comments last week demonstrate he lacks the skills necessary to represent his country. He deliberately and purposelessly offended our country, with which he is mandated to do business. He not only attacked an identifiable group, but also asserted that the Canadian flag was not welcome in his country. The diplomatic purpose of this outburst is hard to discern and the remarks are especially perplexing at a time when the Lebanese people need all the diplomatic friends they can get. Much of the population lives in miserable poverty in a region endowed with great natural wealth; the country is trying to rebuild after years of war; its people have little sovereignty because of the control that Iran and Syria exert over Beirut; and the Hezbollah terror network has a choke-hold over virtually the entire southern portion of the country.
Lebanon will require the assistance of the international community to ameliorate the tragic conditions under which its people are forced to live. One would think that this would be the diplomatic objective of all Lebanese ambassadors. Not Mr. Baaklini. His conspiracy theories about the alleged ethnic and religious makeup of the Canadian media are more urgent to him than the humanitarian and political crises that plague his country. Which begs the question -- whose interests does Mr. Baaklini truly represent, the Lebanese people or the powerbrokers in Iran and Syria? The answer, it appears, is the latter. How else can one explain his mistreatment of Canadian relations, after Canada recently pledged $200-million in aid for his people? And why did he take such offence to Canada's decision (however, delayed) to ban the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah? Some might answer that it is because he represents the interests of the dictators of Damascus and the tyrants of Tehran, instead of the Lebanese people. It is those defenceless and oppressed Lebanese people who are the greatest victims of all -- and it is on their behalf that Canada must ask that Mr. Baaklini be replaced.
Stockwell Day, Canadian Alliance Foreign Affairs Critic, MP, Okanagan-Coquihalla,