The federal NDP and Green parties are applauding the recent court ruling against “Product of Israel” labels on wines produced in West Bank settlements.
The governing Liberals are reviewing the judgment, while a Conservative MP tweeted his disapproval of the decision.
In a statement released Aug. 2, the NDP’s international trade critic, Tracey Ramsey, called the Federal Court of Canada’s July 29 ruling “a step forward for justice in Israel and Palestine.”
Ramsey said that during the debate earlier this year on Bill C-85, which updated the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, the governing Liberals “chose to ignore what New Democrats clearly pointed out: the agreement covered products made in Israeli settlements and occupied territories.”
Liberals “deliberately overlooked the fact that neither Canada nor the United Nations recognize these settlements as part of Israel,” Ramsey’s statement went on. “These settlements are illegal and clearly violate the fourth Geneva Convention.”
He said the NDP is calling on the government “to amend its laws, policies and practices to ensure full compliance” with a 2016 United Nations resolution that called on countries to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”
Goods made in Jewish settlements with “Product of Israel” labels “fly in the face” of Canada’s Mideast policy, he added. “It’s time for Canada to respect human rights and international law.”
In its ruling, the Federal Court found that labeling wine made in West Bank settlements as a “Product of Israel” is “false, misleading and deceptive”; that it violates laws governing consumer protection and the labeling of food and drugs; and that it deprives consumers of the right to make purchases conscientiously.
The court sent the matter back to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for further consideration.
The Green party called for “accurate labelling so that consumers can differentiate between products of Israel and those of occupied territories,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May in an Aug. 6 statement.
“Canadians should be able to make purchases that reflect their beliefs and values, which is why it’s vital to correctly identifying the source of a product.”
Although the Green party “explicitly rejects boycotting the state of Israel, we urge the government not to appeal the court’s decision,” read the Green party’s written statement. “It is important to maintain Canada’s commitment to human rights and international law in regard to trade agreements.”
The party supports “a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that addresses the security, economic and religious concerns of both sides. Greens will continue to call on Israel to stop building illegal settlements beyond the 1967 borders.”
The CJN’s queries to International Trade Minister Jim Carr, who stick-handled the modernizing of the free trade deal between Israel and Canada, were referred to the Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.
“For the moment, the Government of Canada is carefully reviewing the Federal Court ruling,” replied ministry spokesperson Justine Lesage. We “will keep you informed when we will have more to say.”
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the same thing, adding that it has until Sept. 30 to decide whether to appeal the court’s ruling.
Inquiries to the Conservative party yielded a link to a July 30 tweet from Peter Kent, the MP for the Toronto-area riding of Thornhill, who called the court ruling an “un-deserved win for BDS supporters.”
Kent said the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) had noted “substantive errors” in the judgement, and that CIJA “properly urges Liberals to appeal (the) ‘misguided ruling’ on Israeli wines covered by (the) Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.”
Meanwhile, in Toronto, pro-BDS stickers were found on Israeli products at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlet in a neighbourhood with a large Jewish population.
“Boycott Israeli Apartheid,” read the stickers, which were found on bottles of a Syrah from the Galil Mountain Winery at the LCBO outlet on Avenue Road, south of Wilson Avenue, in North York.
“Incidents whereby members of the public place defamatory stickers on Israeli products sold in our stores is a threat to the tolerance, diversity and equity we strive to promote and we take this very seriously. Acts of this nature will be reported to the police by the LCBO,” read a written statement sent to The CJN by the provincial liquor retailer.
Steve McDonald, CIJA’s director of policy and strategic communications, said that, “These types of situations are the reason we launched the BUYcott Israel campaign 10 years ago. In addition to reaching out to the LCBO, we mobilized our BUYcott network – consisting of thousands of community members – and encouraged them to buy Israeli wine in defiance of this boycott attempt. Time and again, the anti-Semitic BDS movement’s juvenile tactics backfire by galvanizing our community to buy Israeli goods and demonstrate to retailers that Canadians love Israeli products.”