"The so-called Durban II conference "has gone completely off the rails" and Canada wants no part of it, said Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity.
"Canada is interested in combating racism, not promoting it," Kenney told The Canadian Press.
"We'll attend any conference that is opposed to racism and intolerance, not those that actually promote racism and intolerance.
"Our considered judgment, having participated in the preparatory meetings, was that we were set for a replay of Durban I. And Canada has no intention of lending its good name and resources to such a systematic promotion of hatred and bigotry."
There were a series of problems with Durban I that look likely to be repeated with Durban II.
Attacks on free speech
Durban I was marked by repeated attacks on the United States for its defence of the free speech guarantee in the US Constitution. The new conference is likely to, in a very similar way, be used as a platform to attack free speech.
UN Watch exposed, in an editorial for the Boston Globe, how the conference is to be used to attack the West for "religious defamation". This is an attempt to use the imprimatur of the UN to push for the banning of future Danish Cartoons, Satanic Verses and other free expression that we are right to defend. A speaker for Egypt described the Danish Cartoons as a "new and dangerous incitement against religion."
At the last conference there was not just an obsessive focus on Israel - rather odd in itself for a conference supposedly focussed on racism. There were deeply unpleasant displays of extremist anti-semitic literature. This poster is one, particularly awful, example:
The Canadian government notes, in the Canadian Press, that:
"Furthermore, all of the non-governmental organizations invited to the first conference have been invited back to the second, including those that were at the "forefront of the hatred," some of which posted pro-Hitler posters at the 2001 gathering."
At best (worst?) this disgusting material will be displayed more subtly. More likely, things will be exactly the same.
Some of the world's worst regimes given prominent positions
Again, from UN Watch:
"Libya was elected as chair, and Iran and Cuba among the 19 vice-chairs."
With that kind of leadership...Conclusion
At the earlier conference Canadian government policy had been that - through their presence at Durban - they could try to fight the numerous abuses. They have clearly realised that this will not work:
"Concluded Kenney: "If we felt there was any realistic chance that Canada could help to positively influence the process, we would stay involved. . . . By making this bold decision, Canada may send a wake-up call to the Durban organizers and other countries."
Britain should follow Canada's fine example.