Home News Canada Anti-BDS motion backed by Liberals, Tories in Parliament

Anti-BDS motion backed by Liberals, Tories in Parliament

Stéphane Dion
Stéphane Dion

Whether the Trudeau government was baited into supporting what Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion called a “divisive” opposition resolution, the Liberals in the end backed a Tory motion that condemns the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Feb. 18 motion, introduced by Conservative MPs Tony Clement and Michelle Rempel, states, “That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the BDS movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

Jewish groups applauded the motion, which is expected to pass next week with the support of the Liberals and Tories, but not the NDP and Green party.


Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), stated: “A clear, all-party consensus rejecting the divisive BDS movement was reaffirmed in the House of Commons. One after the other, members of Parliament spoke up in support of Canada’s friendship with Israel and spoke out against efforts to delegitimize, isolate and discriminate against Israel by advancing the false idea that Palestinians bear no responsibility for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“The boycott movement does not contribute to peace and is not pro-Palestinian. It is discrimination based on nationality, and it harms both Israelis and Palestinians alike by driving the two sides further apart. The BDS movement is a fringe movement and is outside genuine peace efforts.”

JSpace Canada spokesperson Karen Mock said her organization “opposes all forms of BDS of Israel and all forms of vilification, demonization or delegitimizing of Israel as a state. JSpace supports the motion in Parliament. Although BDS is a non-violent form of protest, it has been found not to be effective and divisive in Israel and Canada.”

B’nai Brith Canada’s CEO Michael Mostyn stated, “We are very pleased to see that Parliament is recognizing the anti-Israel boycott and sanctions movement for what it is: a discriminatory global propaganda campaign to demonize Israel and the Jewish People.”


Avi Benlolo, CEO of Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the parliamentary debate reflects “a general consensus that needs to be heard.”

“There is a sense that everybody is pushing back against BDS… It will send a signal to the community, campuses and other groups that they don’t have government support,” he said.

The motion comes as a number of jurisdictions in North America and Europe have taken steps to oppose BDS. In the United States, state legislatures in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana passed anti-BDS resolutions, while the British parliament also announced a plan to enact legislation outlawing BDS. France passed such laws in 2003.

Canada’s parliamentary motion comes a little more than a year after former foreign affairs minister John Baird signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel that pledged the two countries will “work together to oppose efforts to single out or isolate Israel by developing a co-ordinated public diplomacy initiative to oppose boycotts of Israel, to oppose those who call into question the Jewish state’s right to exist and to work to counter the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

Despite voicing support, statements by Dion suggested he backed the motion reluctantly.

Responding to a question from NDP MP Helene Laverdiere, who asked whether by adopting the motion he was condemning the Ontario arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which endorsed BDS, Dion stated: “We have to make choices. We did not draft this motion, but we have to vote yea or nay. The government that I represent here chose to vote in favour of it even though we would have written it differently. I agree with the member that most of the people in the movement are acting in good faith, including many of the organizations, but they are misguided. We therefore support this motion, but we wish to make it clear that we are in no way seeking to limit freedom of expression in Canada or to encourage any kind of bullying one way or the other. ”

In debate prior to adoption of the motion, Dion analyzed the BDS movement and said, “The Liberals do not support this boycott movement, because we do not believe it is conducive to achieving peace in the Middle East… We will support it because we agree with the substance of it, although we do have some reservations about its form and about the Conservative party’s real intentions.”

NDP MP Charles Angus suggested the principle of free speech was at stake in the debate.


“I note that last August the United Church of Canada, which represents two million Protestants, supported the divestment movement… This has nothing to do with my colleague’s claim that it is delegitimizing the State of Israel. This was a choice it made.

“My Conservative colleagues are asking Parliament to stand up in the House and condemn individuals in this country for their right to debate… We are being asked… to deny and condemn individual students for debating politics.”

Responding to Angus, Rempel stated: “Madam Speaker, my colleague is wrong… He is saying that we are trying to stifle free speech. We are not. All of the groups the member mentioned absolutely have the right to say what they said. What I am asking him to do is make a choice and condemn this movement.

“I condemn the choice of [the postal union] CUPW to support this movement. I condemn the choice of academic student groups to support this movement. I can disagree with them. This movement is not Canadian. As leaders of this country, we should stand up and say that while they have the right to say this, we have the right not to support it and we condemn it.”

With files from JTA

  • Oh sure, on this one Junior gives an inch. But the new face of Canada? Palestine House, Meshwar, Alghabra and UNRWA – not good for our people here or in Israel. Alghabra tried Sharia law a few years ago – thank goodness PM Harper was in power. What’s next? Someone should ask Cotler – he has been silent since he was in Chretien’s Cabinet – or one could call new MP Michael Levitt to see if he will even respond. Not likely. Second thoughts anyone? You voted for them.

    • don’t be a snot. So called Junior is the Prime Minister of Canada

      • Normando782

        Getting elected doesn`t make you smart.

        • Canada First

          You’re right. Stephen Harper was elected PM in 2006, 2008 and 2011.

  • DJ

    No backbone to call the BDS movement what it really is—anti-semitism. Harper had no issue telling it like it is. Wet noodle diplomacy at its best.

    • JD101

      There is a difference between hating a political ideology (Zionism) and hating a people/Religion. Please stop pulling the antisemitism card…..it’s well past its expiry date and
      we’re not buying it anymore.

      • DJ

        Who is this “we” you are referring to? Hating the belief in national self-determination of a people who have over 2000 years of cultural, religious and anthropological history in a region they have populated IS anti-semitism, or plainly, Jew hatred , if you want to cut the sh@#t. Referring to Zionists as a colonial movement totally dismisses thousands of years of murder, persecution, diaspora, and ignores the legitimacy of the Jewish people as a nation and religion.

        Shame on you for your obfuscation. Your moral grandstanding isn’t fooling anyone.

        • JD101

          You could reverse everything you just said and be talking about the local people that were displaced when Europeans showed up and took over their land. Jews and Muslims used to live in that area in perfect harmony until the beginning of the 20th Century when US and European “new” Jews decided they wanted the land.

          • DJ

            Right. The debunked Khazar argument. Go back under your rock you Jew hater. You just proved my original point.

          • JD101

            Why am I a Jew hater because I don’t think they located their homeland in an appropriate setting ? Couldn’t they colonize somewhere in Canada they have lots of space ?

  • Oliver Puma

    Here is what Dion really said:


    “Dion denounced the Conservatives’ opposition day motion — which would “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad” — as just more “politics of division.”

    The Tories, he said, are just “bullies” who want to turn the defence of Israel into a partisan issue. They’ll portray anyone who votes against their motion as “dissidents.”

    “It’s not us who wrote this motion,” Dion complained, “but we have to vote yes or no.””

    “There is no doubt, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion declared in the House of Commons Thursday, that most of the organizations and individuals supporting the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement are doing so in good faith, …….”

    “But BDS, said Dion, is not government policy. And “those people, of good faith, we will not convince them of their error by banging them on the head, by hitting them with condemnations of all types, by intimidation, or by invectives. We have to speak to them with respect.””

    The BDSers must be respected, but the Conservatives are bullies for criticizing BDS.

    That, folks, is Liberal policy.

    • Canada First

      Wouldn’t life be wonderful, and Canada perfect, if only your hero Stephen Harper had won the 2015 election?

  • moosehorn

    Is this is the Real Change that inspired the majority of Canadians to vote for the liberals?
    Alas, it feels like, from behind the scene, Harper is still running the government.

    • Normando782

      That is unfortunate.

  • מיכאל בן-יא

    SIGN and SHARE my petition and tell others to do the same http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopnini

  • David Roytenberg

    Please name the MP’s who opposed the motion.

  • JD101

    Both sides agreed to limit free speech. That’s great. What if someone wants to start an anti Iranian protest group? I’m guessing they’ll receive donations from these useless suits.