Canada’s Parliament on Monday passed a motion formally condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel in Canada.
Introduced last week by members of the opposition Conservative Party, the motion won support from the ruling Liberal Party and passed in a 229-51 vote.
The Canadian Conservative Party and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party voted in favour, and the New Democratic Party (NDP) voted against the measure.
According to CJN News, the measure calls on the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”
Speaking in favour of the motion last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said “the world will win nothing for boycotting Israel but depriving itself of the talents of its inventiveness. We must fight anti-Semitism in all its forms. We must oppose the boycott, divest, sanctions campaign in our communities and continue to speak out forcefully against them.”
“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,” said Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
Responding to the vote in a news release, the National Council on Canada Arab Relations said the anti-BDS motion goes “against the spirit of the Freedom of Speech, a right enshrined in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Hours after the bill was passed, on Monday night, in a general assembly of the undergraduates association at the McGill university, which has one of the highest Jewish populations of any university in Canada, a motion in support of the BDS movement passed by a margin of 512-357. The vote was carried out in the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU).
The motion demands that McGill University completely divest from companies “profiting from violations of Palestinian human rights” and implement an “investment screen” to prevent future investments in such companies. The companies specifically mentioned in the motion include: Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, L-3 Communications, US surveillance and reconnaissance company, and the U.S.-based real estate broker RE/MAX.
Last year, as Liberal leader, current Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau tweeted his disappointment with McGill passing a BDS motion.
The BDS movement has gained considerable traction in Canada. It is supported by the United Church of Canada as well as a major Quebec-based labor union, Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).
Similar bills targeting the BDS movement are under consideration in the United States and the United Kingdom. In the U.S., the bipartisan “Combating BDS Act of 2016” empowers state and local governments to sever ties with entities that support BDS movement, wile the British Parliament is seeking to outlaw BDS entirely.