Rob Anders still no fan of Nelson Mandela

Conservative MP Rob Anders is clinging to his criticism of Nelson Mandela, remaining opposed to the man credited with bringing down South Africa's apartheid system and drawing harsh criticism from a caucus colleague.

Only MP to vote against granting Mandela honorary Canadian citizenship still opposed

Conservative MP Rob Anders has long been a detractor of Nelson Mandela and seems to remain opposed to the man credited with bringing down South Africa's apartheid system. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Conservative MP Rob Anders is clinging to his criticism of Nelson Mandela, remaining opposed to the man credited with bringing down South Africa's apartheid system and drawing harsh criticism from a caucus colleague.

Anders was the only MP to oppose giving the former South African president honorary Canadian citizenship in 2001. He denied the House unanimous consent for a motion on the matter, but MPs later voted and passed it anyway.

Anders wasn't in the House of Commons Thursday night when tributes to Mandela were read. Mandela died yesterday at age 95.

His office didn't return phone calls requesting comment. But in an email, Anders said he wishes peace for the people of South Africa.

"If you are looking for another perspective you may be interested in the obituary that David Horowitz wrote for the Freedom Centre," he said in an email to CBC News.

The blogpost refers to Mandela as a terrorist, something Anders called Mandela back in 2001. He also heckled Mandela in the House of Commons when Mandela visited.

"But if a leader should be judged by his works, the country Mandela left behind is an indictment of his political career, not an achievement worthy of praise — let alone the unhinged adoration he is currently receiving across the political spectrum," Horowitz writes in the blogpost.

"South Africa today is the murder capital of the world, a nation where a woman is raped every 30 seconds, often by AIDS carriers who go unpunished, and where whites are anything but the citizens of a democratic country which [honours] the principles of equality and freedom," he wrote.

'Let history be the judge'

Asked whether that means he agrees with the blogpost, Anders responded that he has spoken before about Mandela and "will let history be the judge."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper signs a book of condolence for Nelson Mandela on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

In an interview airing Friday on CBC's Power & Politics, Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai — who, like Anders, represents Calgary — said talking to South Africans would give Horowitz and Anders a different perspective.

"Those who were involved in this struggle, those who felt the discrimination ... are the people who will tell you what was Mandela's legacy. Because they received the brunt of the attacks, the brunt of the suffering," Obhrai said.

"Mr. Mandela spent all of his life — he was in jail when he could have had a very good life. He was a lawyer. He sacrificed everything."

Obhrai, who grew up in Tanzania, said Anders should read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, a collection of statements by victims of the apartheid system.

"Listen to what the people have been speaking. Understand… people who lived there, who suffered there, they will tell you a different story.… I'm going to be very clear. Mr. Mandela's legacy is a strong legacy of human dignity. That is his legacy. Anybody else wants to cast on that legacy is on the wrong side of history," he said.

Accused veterans of praising Putin

A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Harper's statement in the House last night was delivered "on behalf of the government of Canada."

"The prime minister’s view ... is that with the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost one of its great moral leaders and statesmen," Jason MacDonald said in an email.

"[Mandela] has left an enduring legacy, and has acted with grace, humility and tremendous magnanimity. In that regard he is a model for all of us."

Last year, Anders told a reporter he thought NDP Leader Tom Mulcair had hastened the death of former leader Jack Layton in 2011.

"I actually think one of the great stories that was missed by journalists was that Mr. Mulcair, with his arm twisted behind the scenes, helped to hasten Jack Layton’s death,” Anders told iPolitics.ca.

“It was very clear to me watching the two of those gentlemen in the front benches, that Jack Layton was ill and that Mr. Mulcair was making it quite obvious that if Jack wasn’t well enough to fight the campaign and fight the election that he should step aside, and that because of that, Mr. Layton put his life at risk to go into the national election, and fight it, and did obviously an amazing job considering his state of health, and that he did that partly because of the arm-twisting behind the scenes by Mulcair, and then subsequently died,” he said.

He also accused two Canadian veterans of being "NDP hacks" and claimed they praised Russian strongman Vladimir Putin at a House committee meeting.


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