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The «&nbsp ;Mulroney's courage » should inspire Trudeau

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Nelson Mandela visiting Canada in 1990, alongside Brian Mulroney.

  • Louis Blouin (View profile)Louis Blouin

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South Africa's High Commissioner to Canada pays tribute to Brian Mulroney, who helped crack the apartheid regime in his country. According to him, the leadership of the former prime minister should serve as an example to Justin Trudeau in his response to the conflict in the Middle East. The diplomat, who describes the situation in the Gaza Strip as “Israeli apartheid,” encourages Canada to recognize the Palestinian state.

Interview with Rieaz Shaik, High Commissioner of South Africa to Canada.

The courage of Mr. Mulroney. It was courageous what he did for South Africa at an extremely difficult time, when support for the apartheid government was consolidated behind Margaret Thatcher's Britain and Ronald's United States. Reagan.

They were quite hegemonic in their support for apartheid, and Brian Mulroney's courage broke that hegemony. This led to an opening, a small crack through which light entered. This is called Vulindlela, paving the way (in Xhosa language) for possible sanctions against South Africa.

It was huge. I was reading about this Commonwealth meeting in Vancouver (1987) where Brian Mulroney lost his temper against Margaret Thatcher. It must be understood that his reign over the Commonwealth was supreme at the time and Brian Mulroney stood up to him on the moral issue of the moment, that is to say the defeat of apartheid, a form of government based on ethnic origin and racial discrimination.

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He taught us that some actions governments take in times of crisis, even though they may seem inconsequential at the time, can be a crucial step toward change.

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Brian Mulroney was made a Companion of the Order of O.R Tambo in 2015, a rare distinction for his fight against the apartheid regime.

Brian Mulroney was made a Companion of the Order of O.R. Tambo because of his contributions to South Africa: firstly denouncing apartheid, secondly campaigning for the release of Nelson Mandela and finally imposing sanctions against South Africa.

Nelson Mandela had the intuition to recognize an authentic person. For him, Mr. Mulroney's fight for South Africa was not opportunistic, but an authentic gesture.

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South African anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was applauded by Brian Mulroney and other MPs in the House of Commons on June 18 1990.

This is what Mr. Mandela wanted to honor when he came to Canada and this explains the very personal comments about Mr. Mulroney in his speech to the Commons (June 1990).

It's difficult not to draw a parallel between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid. […] I think Prime Minister Mulroney can serve as a role model for a leader or a group of leaders to follow in his footsteps and do for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict what he did for South Africa.

It's a simple matter of courage. We all see people's suffering on television every day. I think there comes a time when human suffering is such that you can no longer bear it and you speak out. This is what Mr. Mulroney did. Today, world leaders must do it. I certainly think Joe Biden, the President of the United States, needs to do it. I certainly think Prime Minister Trudeau should think about it. We need a leader who stands together and says: Enough is enough. What is happening in Gaza is enough.

In early January, South Africa filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice ( ICJ) accusing Israel of violating the United Nations Genocide Convention due to its military operations in Gaza.

Canada did not support the South African complaint, but said it supported the work of the ICJ. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retorted that it is Israel which is fighting a genocide, after the deadly attack on October 7 carried out by Hamas which left 1,140 dead. In the Gaza Strip, the death toll has exceeded 30,000 since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

I think it is high time that Canada actually recognized the Palestinian state. This would make sense of the Canadian position in favor of a two-state solution. If you support the two-state solution, the first and most important step is to recognize Palestine's right to statehood. This is very important.

I think we must not get trapped in this path towards the two-state solution. We've been stuck there for the last 30 years. Everyone agreed on a path only to find that it led nowhere. It was just a first step and everyone stayed on that first step for 30 years.

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Rieaz Shaik, High Commissioner of South Africa.

Israel's allies must say clearly and very forcefully that the time has come to find a solution to this problem.

Of course, part of this problem is Israelis' fear of not living in a safe environment. And I think these issues can be resolved through negotiations. They should now be credible, significant, have an impact and lead to the resolution of this problem.

Canada underestimates its sympathy capital in the world. The international community perceives Canada as a polite people, capable of resolving problems through non-adversarial negotiations. In my eyes, this is the Canadian way.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, met with the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, during a bilateral meeting as part of the G7, Sunday June 10, 2018 in Quebec.

I think Canada can do more in this regard on the world stage, especially when we consider the nature of the conflicts we face. We encourage Canada to do more.

*Some responses have been edited and/or shortened for clarity and brevity.< /em>

With the collaboration of Marie Chabot-Johnson and Maxime Huard

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