VANCOUVER - After a July 28th meeting with a distinguished delegation of Lebanese Canadians who expressed their concern about Prime Minister Harper's stance on the deaths of 12 Canadians in Lebanon, NDP MPs Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Dawn Black (New Westminster-Coquitlam), and Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) are calling on the Canadian government to hold a public inquiry into their deaths.
"The Canadian government has a duty to defend Canadians both in Canada and abroad," said Davies, NDP House Leader and Labour Critic. "In the Prime Minister's attempts to gain favour with US President Bush, Mr. Harper has failed in his responsibilities to protect Canadian citizens."
"The killing of innocent civilians must stop", added NDP Defence Critic Dawn Black. "The Prime Minister must call an inquiry into the deaths of Canadian citizens by Israeli air strikes. Eleven Canadians from one family have been killed without a word of protest from their own government."
Peter Julian added that by not calling for an end to the violence, the Prime Minister has endangered the lives of Canadians still in the region.
"Frankly, it's unbelievable", said Julian. "Canadian citizens are being killed, and the government is blaming them for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well, it's time for this Prime Minister to act on behalf of all Canadians, and call an inquiry into these deaths. It's the least our government can do for the families and friends of the victims."
Despite the continuing escalation of violence in the Middle East, the Canadian government is refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to hostilities. Hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed, including 12 Canadians, one of who was a UN peacekeeper who is missing and presumed dead.
Since the conflict began, it has been estimated that over 600 Lebanese and 50 Israelis have been killed. However, Canada and the US have refused to call for an end to the violence, claiming that Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorism. This has put Canada at odds with much of the rest of the international community. The NDP MPs believe an inquiry is essential in order for Canada to return to its proper place as an advocate for international and humanitarian law.