MONTREAL — A motion condemning the boycott of a Montreal shoe store selling Israeli shoes was blocked by the single Québec solidaire (QS) member of the National Assembly.
Supporters of Le Marcheur have been rallying outside the store to counter the anti-Israel boycott campaign.
Amir Khadir, MNA for Mercier, prevented the motion from being debated after it was presented Feb. 9 by the Action démocratique du Québec’s François Bonnardel (Shefford) and supported by Parti québécois MNA Martin Lemay (Ste. Marie-St. Jacques) and Liberal Lawrence Bergman (D’Arcy McGee).
Boutique Le Marcheur on St. Denis Street is located in Lemay’s riding.
All three politicians have visited the store to lend their support to owner Yves Archambault.
The motion “deplores the boycott campaign” in front of the store, which began in October, and states that “the National Assembly reiterates its support for the understanding on co-operation between the government of Quebec and the government of the State of Israel, which was signed in Jerusalem in 1997 and renewed in 2007.”
Khadir participated in the Dec. 11 picketing outside Le Marcheur, and his party passed a motion in November 2009 endorsing the international boycott campaign against Israel. Soon after, Khadir tried to have the legislature entertain his motion in support of the boycott.
In a statement, the Quebec-Israel Committee (QIC) welcomed the motion and its implied repudiation of Khadir and his party’s involvement.
Executive director Luciano Del Negro explained that Khadir was the only member to refuse to give his consent to the Speaker for the motion to proceed. Unanimous consent of all members present is required for a motion to be debated.
“What we had was a full house, 124 MNAs from all three major parties, and the independents, saying yes, and one member being isolated.”
Del Negro noted that what happened is significant because it’s the first time any government in Canada, and possibly the world, has clearly rejected the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
“People always say the situation is more difficult in Quebec, but it is the National Assembly that has set a new benchmark on the issue that we hope will inspire other legislatures. There is now a consensus among the political class in Quebec that BDS is not acceptable. You don’t have that elsewhere in Canada.”
QIC research and communications director David Ouellette added: “This unprecedented disavowal of the BDS campaign by the legislature confirms QIC’s long-held contention that the boycott campaign of Israel enjoys no significant support in Quebec.”
Khadir and party co-leader Françoise David have stated that he regretted taking part in the demonstration, because his intention was not to encourage a boycott of the store, but only of the Israeli-made merchandise, which represents a small part of its wares.
Khadir’s press attaché Christian Dubois said the MNA refused to debate the motion because it went beyond denouncing the boycott of Le Marcheur. The QS has called for the suspension of the Quebec-Israel agreement.
Khadir, first elected in 2008, ran unsuccessfully for the Bloc québécois in the 2000 federal election.
The group that has been organizing the demonstrations announced on its website last week that it would be resuming its action this past Saturday.
Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU) had suspended the protests the previous two Saturdays, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 based on fears that the little-known Mouvement Nationaliste-Révolutionnaire Québécois, which it judged to be extreme right-wing and racist, was planning to show up. It did not.
In a departure from the past, PAJU identified the location of the demonstration as the corner of St. Denis and Duluth streets, rather than naming the nearby store.