VANCOUVER (CP) – Liberals accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary of hypocrisy Thursday after reports he attended a rally organized by Iranian supporters of a banned terrorist group.
"Is that a double standard?" asked Liberal MP Denis Coderre of Jason Kenney’s attendance at the rally. Said interim Liberal leader Bill Graham: "I think it’s so hypocritical when you heard the words that came out of his mouth a couple of days ago about the observations made about one of our members and then you find he himself is standing there embracing a terrorist group."
Coderre couldn’t disguise his delight Thursday at news Kenney was photographed at the April rally.
The picture appears on the website of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political wing of the PMOI, or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
The PMOI is one of the names used by the MEK, or Mujaheedin-e-Khalq, an armed Iranian rebel group formally designated as a terrorist organization by the governments of Canada, the United States and the European Union. The Canadian government put the group on its official terror list in May 2005.
Kenney is shown addressing an April 6 rally on Parliament Hill and is quoted as welcoming participants "on his own behalf as well as the prime minister."
In an interview, Kenney said he was "completely unaware of the context as it presented here, even though we had done our due diligence."
But Kenney has been ruthless with Liberal gaffes on the Middle East conflict.
He slammed Coderre for taking part in a peace rally at which Hezbollah flags were raised.
And on Tuesday, he compared a trio of opposition MPs who visited Lebanon and who called for a dialogue with Hezbollah to those who tried to appease the Nazis during the Second World War.
On Thursday, Coderre accused Kenney of indulging in "demagogy against me" over the peace rally even though Coderre said he had denounced the show of support for Hezbollah "right away on the spot."
"A terrorist group is a terrorist group so I’m expecting Jason Kenney, who likes to play politics and who’s as subtle as Barney Rubble in politics, he should do better than that."
Coderre called on Kenney to apologize for the event and to denounce the terrorist group.
Graham said he wasn’t at all surprised to hear of Kenney’s participating in the Iranian rally.
"It’s a classic example of Mr. Kenney’s complete disregard for what he says for one group and then says another thing to another group."
Ottawa Citizen – August 24