Prime Ministers Mirrored

When I watch the news reports from Gaza and Israel and hear my Prime Minister still declaring that “Canada” stands firmly behind Israel and when I hear his Minister of Foreign Affairs turning the governments‛s pro Israel unilateralism into a veritable “Islamic jihad, international terrorism” rant, I not only want to gag but find myself remembering something I wrote many years ago about a time when another prime minister turned a citizen‛s stomach. That prime minister was Mackenzie King.

The year was 1940 and, although we were one year into World War Two in Europe, the barbaric Sino-Japanese War had been underway since 1937. However, in the interests of international trade and diplomatic relations, the immense suffering of the Chinese people was being comfortably ignored by Prime Minister Mackenzie King and his associates. A case could be made that Canada was still dealing in war materials for the Japanese. A Canadian who was vociferously making that case was missionary/surgeon Dr. Robert “Bob” McClure – at the time Field Director for the International Red Cross in China and temporarily invalided home to Canada. (Later he became the first lay moderator of The United Church of Canada.)

McClure was called on the carpet by the P.M. and a quarter of a century after the encounter I found myself writing about it in a biography of McClure. When I contemplate our current government‛s apparent total lack of compassion for the people, the human beings, entrapped in Gaza, I can do little better than repeat what I wrote of McClure at that time.  It mirrors the way I feel now.

There was a flaw in the McClure character which made him intemperate in his dislikes. When he despised a man, which was rarely, he despised him thoroughly. He realized now just how completely he despised Mackenzie King…. Bob McClure contemplated changing his citizenship. If his Canada had come to the point where it was dominated by such men, then it was just possible that he had better give up on the whole country and put his citizenship elsewhere. He debated with himself as to what his choice should be; the United States or Britain? As his anger subsided he reflected, sadly, that none of them were pure – he may as well stick with the corruption that was native.

As for me, yes, there is no choice but to stick with the moral corruption that is native, knowing full well that to a certain degree it is native everywhere. Unfortunately,  once again, it has percolated to the top echelon of Canadian power. May it not always be thus. May Canada soon return to a former official view of the morass that is Israel/Palestine where, at one time, Canadian compassion took precedence over politics, hubris, religion and wilful ignorance.


In November 2012 I wrote more extensively about this in a Return to Paradox item called “Unwavering support”.    It could have been written today.

McClure: The China Years
(Canec Publishing, Toronto, 1977)
Copyright © Munroe Scott

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About Munroe Scott

Munroe Scott is a veteran of the freelance writing world.
This entry was posted in Article, Opinion, Politics, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Prime Ministers Mirrored

  1. Dave Valentine says:

    Thanks Munroe. Some history before my time. Perhaps some reassurance that ‘this too shall pass’.

  2. David Black says:

    Well put Munroe. A strange version of ‘principled politics’.

  3. lionel strange says:

    Many thanks ,Munroe, for giving me a much needed tutorial in Middle Eastern history. I have been shaken to realize the extent and importance 0f events that have shaped that history during my lifetime.
    I suspect that those who have paid any significant attention to the complexity of the relationships between countries and religious beliefs in that part of the world have, like me, lost track of much of the historical detail and resigned themselves to the concept that a powerful component of the Palestinian government is devoted to getting rid of Israel and that we in the West should do whatever we can to prevent that happening.
    We in Canada know that our influence in solving this dangerous confrontation is negligible,
    but that does not excuse us from doing all we can to help the thousands of people on both sides who have to live and often to die in this toxic environment. To take sides in this confrontation is futile and inexcusable.

    • Munroe Scott says:

      Well said, Lionel. From a perspective that is apparently beyond the ability of our government to comprehend you have put the whole thing into one short sentence. “To take sides in this confrontation is futile and inexcusable.”

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