Controversies

Yves has been accused by various people of being anti-Canadian, anti-Semitic and anti-Quebecois. These are his responses to each:

Accusations of Anti-Canadianism

I have attacked and sought to undermine myths that Canadians, including many on the left, tell about our past and present, specifically those related to foreign affairs. Rather than accept the myth that Canada is, or was, a force for good in the world, I have researched and written about what this country’s foreign policy has actually been and what it remains. I have written critically about NDP, labour union and other left support for Canadian foreign policy as well as the truth about Lester Pearson, who for some strange reason, became an icon of ‘progressive’ foreign policy and peacekeeping. This has disturbed some people who have demanded I have “pride in Canada”. But people who want to build a better world must base their understanding on Canada’s real place in the world, not mythology. Only then can Canada truly become a force for good.

I was born and have lived all but a few months of my life in Canada. While I believe nationalism is often dangerous, my love for the people of this country and those who live everywhere on this planet is deep and abiding. It’s what motivates me to work for a fairer, better world.

Accusations of Anti-Semitism

I condemn all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Not only do I verbally condemn it, I have spent my entire adult life as an active participant in anti-racism struggles, as a writer, a public commentator and an activist. Unfortunately, because of my support for Palestinians and writing against the Israel lobby, some have accused me of anti-Semitism. This is a common slur made by supporters of Israel against pro-Palestinian activists. More troublingly are a few people on ‘the left’ who have joined in with this defamation against me. Have I ever not explained myself well in an interview? Yes. But to take a comment or sentence out of context to label me an anti-Semite who must be ‘de-platformed’ is not only ridiculous, it is libellous, and ignores my decades of work against all forms of racism.

To be specific, I regret minimizing the danger of anti-Semitism in Canada four years ago. In my anger at false accusations of anti-Jewishness leveled against internationalist minded critics of Israeli crimes I incorrectly downplayed the continued evil of anti-Semitism. The rise of neo-Nazi forces in recent years demonstrates I was mistaken.

As for comments some people have interpreted as contributing to anti-Semitic tropes that was never my intention. In responding to claims by supporters of Israel of widespread anti-Semitism in Montreal and arguments that Jews in the city were an oppressed people I pointed out some demographic facts that undermine those arguments. When the charge of anti-Semitism is weaponized to undermine pro-Palestinian activism and the Left in general it is completely valid to look at social indicators of structural racism to determine the validity of claims of oppression. I recognize now that straddling the line of legitimate response to the weaponization of anti-Semitism and contributing to tropes is a difficult one to walk. I apologize to anyone who feels I crossed the line.

Again, I condemn anti-Semitism. I will continue my work to oppose all forms of racism, militarism and imperialism in Canadian foreign policy, which understandably makes me a target for supporters of the existing system who would prefer no voices of dissent. From those on the left who share my belief that we can make a better world, please, if you disagree with something I write or say, let’s debate it in the spirit of building a movement of internationalism and solidarity.”

Accusations of being Anti-Quebec

Pointing out that French is the language of the colonizer and elite almost everywhere in the world, especially in Haiti, and that left and nationalist Quebecers sided with imperialism in Haiti have earned me denunciations as being anti-Quebecois. I am nothing of the sort. I choose to live in Quebec and raise my child in French. To me, this accusation proves the dangers of nationalism. Just because French-speaking Quebecers have been an oppressed nation does not mean they do not contribute to the oppression of others. It’s important to oppose oppression, imperialism, colonialism and exploitation regardless of its source. As a journalist, it is my duty to tell the truth, even if it sometimes hurts.