Mceachen Lauded for Stand on Canada’s Refusal to Hold Un-sponsored Crime Conference
Menu JTA Search

Mceachen Lauded for Stand on Canada’s Refusal to Hold Un-sponsored Crime Conference

Download PDF for this date

Canadian Jewish organizations hailed today the announcement in the House of Commons yesterday by Allan McEachen, Canada’s Secretary of State for External Affairs, that he had advised the United Nations “that Canada does not wish to proceed with the Fifth United Nations Congress for the Prevention of Crime” scheduled for Toronto Sept. 1-12.

Praise for McEachen was made by the Canada-Israel Committee, representing the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canadian Zionist Federation and the B’nai B’rith. The Jewish organizations said that McEachen’s statement “in total thrust represents a morally and politically courageous stand supported by the overwhelming majority of Canadians.”

McEachen told the House that he had sought Secretary General Kurt Waldheim’s “cooperation” and that Waldheim “has undertaken to study the situation in order to clarify his position.” McEachen added that the Canadian government believed that “this Congress cannot be held successfully anywhere this year.”

The McEachen statement followed several Cabinet meetings convened after the refusal of the Ontario provincial government to serve as host for the conclave at which representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization had been sched- uled to attend as observers.

McEachen noted that, during the fourth Congress in Kyoto, Japan, in 1970, the Canadian government, in consultation with the province of Ontario, had proposed Toronto as the site of the fifth Congress and that the site had been confirmed by the UN General Assembly. Since that time, he added, “there has been a steady deterioration of the atmosphere in which international conferences are held.”


Citing the “discord” which he said had marked the last General Assembly, the UN Industrial Development Organization, the International Labor Organization meeting in Geneva, and the International Women’s Conference in Mexico City, the Foreign Minister said those meetings had been marked by “excessive confrontation on issues that were not related to the subject matter of the conferences.”

He said the problems before the UN and its affiliated agencies were “real and difficult” and must be dealt with “urgently” in the appropriate international institutions “before they poison the body politic of the United Nations.”

McEachen also said it was “necessary and desirable that political factors take their proper place even in the most technical of conferences but they must meet some test of relevance and in recent UN conferences this has clearly not been the case.” He also cited “the public outcry for or against the admission to Canada for this Congress of observers from the Palestine Liberation Organization,” adding that the government had been “worried by its divisive effect upon Canadian public opinion. We could not ignore the risk of public disorders.”


But McEachen listed two factors which he said had “dominated” discussion of the problem in the Canadian Cabinet. One, he said, was “the inevitable intrusion” of “unrelated political discussions” in the deliberations of the Congress. The other was “re-escalation of violence in the Middle East and the consequent spread of its bitterness into Canada and subsequently in the Congress itself.”

He said the government hoped that current negotiations for the reduction of tensions in the Mideast would prove successful in the coming months, adding that “we will actively support the continuing efforts of the parties directly concerned and of the United States government to ward that goal.” McEachen said he had been invited to visit a number of countries in the Middle East this fall and that he had accepted the invitation. He did not name the inviting countries.


McEachen also said that the Canadian government would “resist” any attempt to exclude Israel “or any other country” from the proceedings of the next General Assembly, which opens in September, adding that this principle would guarantee the status of Israel within the community of nations and thus remove one cause of instability in the area.

The statement by the Jewish organizations said “We applaud the decision” of the Canadian government “to make every effort to prevent further deterioration of the world organization and we oppose attempts to rob it of its universality by excluding Israel or any other nation.”

(It was announced this afternoon at the UN that the 22 members of the UN Committee on Conferences, where Canada also sits, will meet at the UN headquarters July 29 to discuss all options, including the Canadian suggestion that the conference be delayed.)

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund