Credits: ÈVE LÉVESQUES/24 HEURES/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had little to say Friday about his demand a United Nations official step down over a controversial report.
Despite urgent e-mails from the department to journalists Thursday night, denouncing UN rapporteur Richard Falk’s report calling for a worldwide boycott of companies tied to Jewish settlements in the occupied territories in Israel, Baird pulled his punches when asked to comment.
“Mr. Falks comments are both offensive and extremely unhelpful,” Baird said. “I wish this was the first time he has made such comments and taken such actions but it’s not. So we condemn them in the strongest terms.”
Baird also avoided responding to a question on whether Canada would back up their call for his resignation with action.
Both US and Israeli officials immediately condemned Falk’s report when it was released to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, as did a number of corporations Falk had singled out, such as Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard.
Earlier this month, Baird told the UN General Assembly that Canada remains committed to the international body but criticized officials for not spending enough time and effort on results.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney also weighed in on Falk’s report.
While noting he hadn’t seen it, Kenney said the Conservative government is aware of efforts to single out Israel, and there have been previous resolutions at the UN that “target” Israel for alleged abuses but ignore abuses by other Middle East neighbours.
“I think this is an imbalance,” Kenney said.
- With files from Ian Robertson