Canadian Parliament poised to reject Israel boycott movement

Canada Politics

[Conservative MP Tony Clement pictured in the House of Commons on Dec. 4, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Wattie]

Parliamentarians are on the verge of voting to reject the movement to boycott Israel that has caused controversy in Canada and around the world.

A vote on the matter is scheduled for Monday in the House of Commons, and the ruling Liberals said they would support a Conservative MP’s motion to reject the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for a boycott of Israel based on its treatment of Palestinians.

Former Conservative cabinet member Tony Clement introduced a motion calling for Canada to reject the BDS movement because it “promotes the demonization and delegitimization” of Israel as a state.

The motion also calls on the government to condemn any attempt by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement at home or abroad.

Global Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said the motion was divisive, but said the government would support it anyway because it also believes the movement is harmful.

That means cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries will vote to support the motion. For Liberal backbenchers, however, it will be a free vote, allowing them to choose whichever side they wish.

The vote is scheduled to occur Monday afternoon.

The New Democratic Party opposed the motion, calling it an attack on freedom of expression.

The BDS movement, which compares itself to the effort to boycott South Africa while that country was under apartheid rule, has attempted to garner support from individuals as well as official organizations such as trade unions and universities.

It has found a foothold on campuses around the world with events such as Israeli Apartheid Week, which began in Toronto in 2005.

The United Church of Canada and the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees have also endorsed the BDS movement.

Earlier this week, United Kingdom cabinet minister Matthew Hancock said while on a trip to Israel that his government would prohibit local councils and public bodies from joining the movement.