Category Archives: Other Campaigns

Globe & Mail: Canadian politicians love the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — except when it involves Israel

GERALD CAPLAN, Globe and Mail, Monday, Mar. 07, 2016

When it suits them, Canadian politicians embrace the rights established in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But there are limits, and most of them unaccountably seem to have to do with Israel.

Two years ago, for example, then-prime minister Stephen Harper insisted that Israeli policies should not be criticized, especially in public. To criticize Israel, he said, is to be guilty of “the new anti-Semitism. … It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel.”

Why it was anti-Semitic to criticize the Israel government for its housing or land or human-rights policies, as indeed so many Israelis do, Mr. Harper never explained. Continue reading

ipolitics.ca: Boycott Israel – or don’t. Either way, it’s none of Ottawa’s business.

Andrew Mitrovica, ipolitics.ca

Who knew that a dumb little story about ketchup could go viral? Who expected that dumb little story to end up making a backhanded comment about boycotts, political hypocrisy, the Middle East and anti-Semitism?

Recently, a guy named Brian Fernandez wrote a Facebook post saying he would no longer buy Heinz ketchup after he learned that the popular brand had shuttered its plant in Leamington, Ontario, opting to make the condiment in the United States. Instead, he’s buying French’s ketchup, which apparently is made from Canadian tomatoes.

The post got lots of positive mainstream media coverage and led to a spike in sales for French’s. So you see how this works: Someone makes a purchasing decision on the basis of personal ethics, word gets around and, suddenly, the marketplace shifts ever so slightly. Which is how commercial boycotts work — through consumers exercising the power of personal choice.

Now, imagine that another brand of ketchup, instead of being made in the good old U.S. of A., is being manufactured in Israel. Let’s say some hypothetical ketchup consumer, incensed by Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land, decides to stop buying that ketchup and encourages others to do the same, or switch to mayo. What do you think would happen then?

Chances are, that hypothetical ketchup consumer would find himself praised by a few and vilified by a lot more — as a leftist loon, as an anarchist, as a Hamas stooge, as an anti-Semite. Nothing has changed between these two scenarios, apart from the target. But the target changes everything. Continue reading

United Church Moderator expresses “strong concern” to Trudeau re BDS motion

The Moderator of The United Church of Canada sent the following letter to The Hon. Justin Trudeau

re: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions).

The Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
In this season of discernment and reflection we call Lent, I bring you greetings from The United Church of Canada. It has come to my attention that the following motion is before the House of Commons:

“That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

On behalf of The United Church of Canada, I am writing to express strong concern about this motion. During your campaign, you expressed your vigilance to uphold and protect Canada’s fundamental commitment to democracy. We ask that your government defeat this motion and uphold the fundamental freedoms of “thought, belief, opinion, and expression” as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. Continue reading

URGENT – The Lancet is under attack: Your support is needed!

From: Mads Gilbert

As you probably know, the attacks against the editor of The Lancet, Dr. Richard Horton and also against The Lancet, have continued unabated since July 2014.

And at this stage, it is becoming necessary to go public with a response to the latest complaint to Reed Elsevier (publishers-owners of The Lancet) which summarizes the issue beginning July, in defense of Richard and the Manduca letter publication in the Lancet during the onslaught on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014 (“An open letter for the people of Gaza”), and asserting the importance of not stifling medical journal editors and debates.

Our response is now public, and we are soliciting supporting signatures.

Please go to the following website to read our response:

http://handsoffthelancet.com/ Continue reading

Globe and Mail: The government has not made its case for C-51

KENT ROACH and CRAIG FORCESE, The Globe and Mail

Kent Roach teaches at the University of Toronto law faculty and worked with both the Arar and Air India commissions. Craig Forcese is a law professor teaching national security law at the University of Ottawa and a participant in the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society. Their analysis of C-51 is at antiterrorlaw.ca.

We must exercise caution in judging the government’s amendments to its security law, C-51. We have received what appears to be the official government language. There is some good, some bad and much that remains ugly.

First the good: it is helpful that the proposed changes will now exclude from the national security information sharing regime protests of all sort, and not just protest complying with each and every regulatory law. The amendments will also temper language that might have authorized further sharing of information to “anyone”, including in disregard of security caveats attached to that information.

But in all other respects the government has disregarded warnings of the Privacy Commissioner (and many others) about the reach and potentially ungovernable nature of this vast privacy-limiting power. Downstream sharing can still take place so long as it is “in accordance with law”, which include many exceptions to privacy. Continue reading

Tyee: Six Things Protesters Need to Know about Bill C-51

By Alyssa Stryker and Carmen Cheung | The Tyee

At over 60 pages, Bill C-51 — the Anti-Terrorism Act — is a heavy read. The bill proposes a myriad of radical changes to Canadian law and to Canada’s national security apparatus, many of which seriously jeopardize the rights and freedoms of Canadians while promising little improvement to public safety.

Canada’s privacy commissioner, ex-CSIS officials, former prime ministers and international whistleblower Edward Snowden have all raised alarm about the bill’s impacts on Canadians’ freedom and privacy. Lawyers at the B.C. Civil Liberties Association have gone over the bill paragraph by paragraph, and we’ve outlined the parts of this document that concern us most.

1. Bill C-51 drastically expands the definition of ‘security.’
When you think of being secure, you likely think of being safe from physical danger. But Bill C-51 defines security as not only safeguarding public safety, but also preventing interference with various aspects of public life or “the economic or financial stability of Canada.” With this definition, a separatist demonstration in Quebec that fails to get a proper permit, a peaceful logging blockade by First Nations, or environmentalists obstructing a pipeline route could all be seen as threats to national security.

2. It gives the government too much discretion to pick and choose which individuals and groups to target for further scrutiny.
Bill C-51 gives the government the ability to designate an extraordinarily broad range of activities as potential security threats. The government claims it will use good judgment when deciding which individuals and groups constitute true threats. Whether or not a group is deemed a national security threat may hinge on whether their cause is politically popular or in line with the views of the government. Continue reading

Voices: Case Study of Bill C-51: Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015


Voices/Voix Case study

What Happened
Since the fall of 2014, the Harper government has introduced two significant bills to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other national security related legislation, identified as Bill C-51 and Bill C-44. At the time of writing, Bill C-44 has been passed by the House of Commons and is awaiting approval by the Senate while Bill C-51 (introduced in Parliament in January 2015) is entering its second reading in the House. The amendments proposed, especially through Bill C-51, represent the most sweeping changes to the powers of CSIS since its inception in 1984 and create far-reaching, vague and controversial changes to anti-terrorism legislation that potentially criminalize now lawful activity, create new vaguely defined speech crimes, and increase the scope for CSIS to engage in secret judicially-approved counter-terrorism actions in Canada as well as in foreign countries.

Background
In 1984, CSIS was created as a response to the McDonald Commission, which recommended a separation between national security policing and intelligence functions. National security intelligence would be limited to information gathering, and CSIS’ performance of its duties and functions would be subject to the review of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). Unlawful disruption tactics, including barn burnings, property destruction, break-ins, thefts, and abusive investigation techniques by the RCMP were strongly condemned. In the aftermath of the McDonald Commission Report, the government created CSIS as a legally more constrained, domestic, civilian intelligence collection service. Indeed, later in that decade, an important reform removed the controversial area of “subversion” from the RCMP’s mandate. Continue reading

Embassy: Anti-terrorism and war-mongering. Canadians don’t seem to understand the political manipulation underway

The futility of war

Leaders see the invasion of another country as an easy short-term policy. Canadians don’t seem to understand the political manipulation underway.

Gar Pardy, Embassy Magazine

It is to be regretted that historian Barbara Tuchman is no longer with us. If she was, there is some certainty she would add the “war on terror” and its offshoots to her catalogue of political follies she intelligently identified in her book The March of Folly.

The book has been described as “meditation on the historical recurrence of governments pursuing policies evidently contrary to their own interests.” As Western powers stumble around the battlefields of the Middle East and Central Asia, there is overwhelming evidence supporting the conclusion that today’s policies are contrary to their own interests.

Since the start of our third millennium, the back-to-back wars against so-called terrorism are really wars against ourselves. Bill C-51, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, is but the latest misdirected attempt by the government to fight a war it wants it to be, not the one we read about each morning. Continue reading

CCPA: Bill C-51: A Legal Primer

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Overly broad and unnecessary anti-terrorism reforms could criminalize free speech
By Clayton Ruby and Nader R. Hasan

Six Muslim young adults stand in front of a mosque late at night in heated discussion in some foreign language. They may be debating the merits of a new Drake album. They may be talking about video games, or sports, or girls, or advocating the overthrow of the Harper government. Who knows? There is no evidence one way or the other. Just stereotypes. But the new standard for arrest and detention—reason to suspect that they may commit an act—is so low that an officer may be inclined to arrest and detain them in order to investigate further. And now, officers will no longer need to ask themselves whether the arrest is necessary. They could act on mere suspicion that an arrest is likely to prevent any terrorist activity. Yesterday, the Muslim men were freely exercising constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Today they are arrestable.

Overview: The Anti-Terrorism Act

Bill C-51,the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, would expand the powers of Canada’s spy agency, allow Canadians to be arrested on mere suspicion of future criminal activity, allow the Minister of Public Safety to add Canadians to a “no-fly list” with illusory rights of judicial review, and, perhaps most alarmingly, create a new speech-related criminal offence of “promoting” or “advocating” terrorism. These proposed laws are misguided, and many of them are likely also unconstitutional. The bill ought to be rejected as a whole. Repair is impossible. Continue reading

Mondoweiss: How Salaita’s critics have distorted the Salaita report


By Phan Nguyen, Jan 5 2015, Mondoweiss

Following the controversial termination of Steven Salaita’s hiring at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the university’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT) initiated an investigation into whether the termination violated the university’s statutes and bylaws and academic freedom.

The CAFT issued its findings and recommendations in a report on December 23, accusing the administration and board of trustees of violating shared governance and academic freedom, and calling on the university to reconsider Salaita’s application and financially compensate him for his unjust termination.

This is the first of two articles exploring elements of the CAFT report. In this first article, I demonstrate how Salaita’s critics—the same ones who misrepresented Salaita’s tweets—are now misrepresenting the CAFT report.

In particular, I focus on the claims made by two prominent critics of Salaita: William Jacobson, who is the editor of the Tea Party Zionist blog Legal Insurrection, and Liel Leibovitz, senior writer for Tablet magazine. Continue reading