Thursday, August 24, 2006

I am shocked, shocked I say to learn there's gambling in this establishment!

Hey Conservative MP Jason Kenney, remember that speech you gave to a rally organized by members of a banned terrorist group? What up with that?

In an interview with the Star, Kenney told the newspaper he did not remember being at the rally, then recalled an invitation from "something called the Committee for Human Rights in Iran. ''

Kenney, MP for Calgary Southeast, said he "would be shocked'' to hear his picture was posted on the website.

I am shocked, shocked I do declare! Kenney said that they "had done our due diligence" before accepting the invitation from the Committee in Defence of Human Rights in Iran, which is linked to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which is the political wing of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, aka Mujaheedin-e-Khalq.

Those terrorist groups, they're tricky.
I guess Jason's research (Google?) didn't turn up this statement from the GOVERNMENT OF CANADA's WEBSITE:

"This Islamic socialism can only be attained through the destruction of the existing regime and the elimination of Western influence," says the statement on the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada website.

"To achieve this Islamic ideology, the use of physical force, armed struggle or jihad is necessary," the statement reads, adding that the organization has been linked to Saddam Hussein, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and has been suspected of collusion in Afghanistan's toppled Taliban regime.

Here's how the group describes Jason's visit:

"Dozens of Iranians and supporters of the Iranian Resistance joined in a rally in front of the Canadian Parliament to condemn (the) clerical regime's plan is to execute political prisoners in Iran, specially those affiliated to the PMOI," the national council says on its website.

"(Kenney) started his speech by welcoming participants to the rally on his own behalf as well as the Prime Minister and stressed that the new Canadian government would work hard to establish fundamental freedoms in Iran," it says.

Only natural Jason should bring Steve's greetings, after all, he is Steve's Parliamentary Secretary. Tell me Jason, did you tell Steve you'd be bringing his greetings to terror supporting friends of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban? (See Cerberus for more on how Conservative principles don't apply to Conservatives, and Accidental Deliberations for a disection of Kenney's spin. And The Dan Report has art.)

And we can expect your resignation when, Jason?

Meanwhile, over at Blogging Tories

Don't worry, these guys are all about principle over politics so I'm sure they'll get around to this one sooner or latter. Right guys? Janke? Taylor? SDA? Anyone?

UPDATE: Cerberus ignored the family Thursday night (actually, they're at the cottage, it's OK) to write a very comprehensive overview of the whole affair, and, as Pogge notes, ol' law and order minsiter Stockwell Day is up to his neck in this thing as well.

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Zac said...

This is pretty funny. I love how the BT braintrust goes silent when its one of their guys.

Remember when the reports went out about Borys musing about taking Hezbollah off the terrorist list? The first people to take him to task for it was blogging liberals.

Interesting turn of events.

pogge said...

As a commenter at our house just noted, there was a conference organized by PMOI/MEK supporters held in Dec. 2005 and attended by a few Canadian MPs, most notably Stockwell Day.

Have a link.

Interestinger and interestinger, eh?

Jason Hickman said...

I'm not going to defend Kenney here; attending a MEK event is wrong - no two ways about it.

I do note that according to the Star's report, the event he spoke at was organized by something called "the Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran".

Now, that group is not on the list of banned groups, that you can see right here. MEK, of course, is, but when you click on its link, it doesn't indicate that the group operates under the name "Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran", or anything similar.

(A funny note - if anything's funny about a terrorist group - is that according to the govt website, MEK is "subscribes to an eclectic ideology that combines its own interpretation of Shiite Islamism with Marxist principles." Somehow, I have trouble imaging Jason Kenney, of all people, volunteering to speak to a Marxist group, let alone a Shiite-Marxist group. But I digress ...)

Now, if it is in fact common knowledge that this "Committee" for "Human Rights" is and has been a front for MEK, then Kenney's very much in hot water. But honestly: if I passed by a booth that was organized by a group called "Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran", I'd probably take a good long look at what they have to say, not because I want to end up on the MEK mailing list, but because the issue of human rights in a place like Iran is interesting to me. And it doesn't look like the "Committee" is obviously linked to MEK - I just did a Google search for "Committee in Defence of Human Rights in Iran" (using the quote makrs), and nothing turned up.

So, what's it all mean?

1. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and a similar principle applies here. Kenney shouldn't have spoken to this group, on his own or on behalf of the govt of Canada.

There's a reason why MPs and the like have staffs: vetting groups that want to hear from MPs is part of the job of your staff, and if your staff hasn't vetted the group (unless it's a group everyone knows, like the Lung Association, or something) - don't talk to them. Period, end of story.

2. None of the following points detracts from point #1.

3. It would be hard to blame someone for being in support of a "Human Rights for Iran" committee. Lord knows, Iran's one of those countries that could use a good dose of the medicine countries like South Africa used to receive in the apartheid days - and that's leaving aside the "wipe-out-Isreal" musings of its current president. Promoting groups that are legit in promoting human rights in Iran isn't a bad thing.

4. I still think that as valid as point #1 above is, it doesn't excuse the likes of Peggy and Boris and whatever-her-name-is-from-the-BQ talking about opening up links with Hizballah. Those 3 made a deliberate choice to take a too-moderate approach with Hizballah, and it's interesting that none of their respective party leaders backed them up on it.

5. Regardless of what I have to say, Kenney's going to have to wear this, and may well end up having to give up his Parl Sec gig - we'll see.

Sorry for the long-windery!

Anonymous said...


As someone noted somewhere recently, I long-windedly in your general direction...

pogge said...


Spell defense with an 's' instead of a 'c' and try your search again. One of the names that comes up prominently is Maryam Rajavi. Google her and you'll find this BBC profile describing her as one of the founders of MKO, which is an alternate acronym for MEK. It only takes about a few minutes.

And none of this explains Stockwell Day's attendance at that Dec. 2005 conference which surely couldn't have been accidental.

Jason Hickman said...


1. Good point re: the spelling issue. I used the spelling from the Star's report. Of course, there should be a "reasonable limits" test on how many google searches one should be expected to do.

But look, like I said earlier, even though I have some empathy for how Kenney ended up in this fix, the fault, at the end of the day, lies with the person who didn't do enough due dilligence before speaking to that particular group. Guess who that person was? I still think Kenney was mistaken to do what he did, even if I think there was an explanation for that mistake (which I provided in my earlier post), and even if I think it hardly gets those other MPs of their respective hooks.

2. I'm not going to defend Stock, or the other Tory, Liberal and at-the-time-Independent MP's who spoke at that other conference. I honestly don't know enough about how that event transpired, so I'm certainly not going to blindly say that Day and the other MP's were right to do what they did.

Anon @ 9:52PM:

1. Get bent :)

Jason Hickman said...

Whoops - should've said I used the CTV's spelling, not the Star's. My mistake. Damned if I know why the 2 news sources used different spellings - bloody English language ...

Jeff said...

Maybe a backbench MP could get away with feigning ignorance. But the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister can't. He needs to exercise a little more due dilligence. He is a representative of the PM, and the government of Canada. If he knew of the link and went, that was wrong and he should quit. If he was ignorant of the link that he was incompetent in doing his job, and he should resign.

Ted Betts said...

When you look at the facts, there is absolutely no way - no way - that Kenney did not know who he was dealing with.

But worse than him is Stockwell Day who just last year he was criticizing the Liberal for listing the MEK as a terrorist organization, is quoted in Hansard as saying he has met with MEK and sent them his best wishes in July.

I've got more "here".

(p.s. Jeff, the family is up away at a cottage for the weekend.)


Jeff said...

The cottage? You're excused then Ted, and besides, it's for Canada! It is also late though, and I'm off to sleep.

Gordon and Warren said...

This is just another example of Jason Kenney and Stockwell Day following the lead of US right-wingers, who also think that the MEK are the Contras of our generation.