Saturday, July 22, 2006

Volpemania: Collateral Damage

A Hezbollah Katyusha has just gone thousands of miles off-target and detonated right in the middle of Joe Volpe's leadership campaign, taking out his campaign manager and possibly thousands of instant Arab Liberal party members:

After an angry falling-out with his national campaign manager over the Middle East, Toronto MP Joe Volpe insists he still can win the Liberal leadership without "Jimmy the Mechanic" running his campaign.

Volpe (Eglinton-Lawrence) wouldn't say yesterday whether he fired fellow MP Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough-Agincourt) — the first person hired on the team — after they argued over the Israeli bombing of Lebanon.


The argument was over Volpe's strong support for the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, which the Jewish state deems necessary in order to stop Hezbollah extremists who are firing missiles into Israel from bases in Lebanon.

Earlier this week, Volpe told political columnist Warren Kinsella that 1,000 missiles have been fired and "that is an act of war."

He went on to say that other Liberal governments have "declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization. We cannot now make excuses for its behaviour."

Karygiannis blew up when he read the comments on Kinsella's blog. The two argued Thursday and the split came yesterday.

"You can't hold a country hostage, be it Israel or Hezbollah," Karygiannis told the Canadian Press yesterday.


Karygiannis is considered a master organizer, although his tactics have been called "bullying" by his critics. He has worked hard to pull in support for Volpe among ethnic organizations, including various Canadian Muslim groups.

Last week, during an interview at Volpe's Scarborough headquarters, he proudly pointed to a recent letter from the Canadian Arab Network, in which the GTA-based group praised Volpe for telling them he "would work with the democratically elected government in Palestine without preconditions."

Nobody plays ethnic politics better than Joe Volpe, but then, nobody runs bigger risks playing ethnic politics than Joe Volpe.

The more you rely on the ethnic vote, the more likely that your campaign will be damaged by events happening thousands of miles away.

And the more difficult the diplomatic balancing act becomes within your own campaign. You end having to become a foreign policy expert just to deal with local riding associations.

But at least Volpe knows, unlike the rest of his competitors, how difficult brokering a Middle East peace agreement really is: he can't get one within his own campaign, and that's only with words and not rockets being fired.

Source: Toronto Star

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