Canada’s central labour body, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), is calling on the government to stop trying to shut down legitimate and nonviolent criticism of human rights abuses by Israel.
We are very disturbed to see our government attempting to criminalize legitimate and nonviolent dissent.
Tactics such as boycotts, divestment and sanctions, for example, can be effective for raising awareness about and discouraging human rights abuses by governments, and must not be characterized as criminal or as inciting hatred towards a people.
In January this year, the Canadian government signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel claiming that “the selective targeting of Israel is the new face of anti-Semitism” and saying Canada will oppose those who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney then announced at the UN General Assembly that the Canadian government would exercise “zero tolerance” toward “all forms of discrimination including rhetoric towards Israel, and attempts to delegitimize Israel such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”
Many Canadians remember the very important role boycotts and sanctions played in toppling apartheid in South Africa and military dictatorships like Suharto’s Indonesia, or ending racial segregation in the United States.
The CLC believes that perhaps our government should spend more time listening to why so many Canadians feel so passionately about this issue, instead of trying to shut them down.
Also endorsed by CUPE, UNIFOR, PSAC and CUPW.