Members of the House of Commons Thursday engaged in an extensive debate on a motion put forward by Conservative MP Tony Clement, to denounce the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
The debate took place in light of BDS votes at universities, including one Monday at McGill University. The Conservatives and Liberals support the motion. The NDP opposes it, saying it opposes BDS but claiming the motion attacks freedom of expression. A vote took place Monday, in which the motion was supported 229-51. Many local MPs, including Mount Royal's Anthony Housefather, Lac St. Louis's Francis Scarpaleggia and Westmount's Marc Garneau, voted for the motion. St. Laurent MP Stéphane Dion did not vote.
The motion states that "given that Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House rejects 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."
"The premise behind this movement is the promotion of the odious narrative that Israel is uniquely responsible for the Arab-Israeli conflict," Clement said. "Further, the activists who are involved in this movement push for a complete worldwide boycott of the only Liberal democracy in the Middle East, while simultaneously exempting some of the worst human rights offenders in the world from equivalent attention."
Here is the response from various members of the Commons.
"BDS in no way helps the Palestinians, in no way advances the peace process that all of us in this House believe is important, and in no way advances a two-state solution. Rather, as Irwin Cotler, who represented my riding before me, said, it is simply part of a new anti-Semitism that stigmatizes and vilifies Israel by holding it to a different standard than every other country in the world... the thrust of what it is asking for is the disappearance of the State of Israel....The motion is not a violation of freedom of expression."
— Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather
"Instead of a recipe for achievement of a lasting peace settlement, BDS creates a form of collective punishment at the expense of both Israelis and Palestinians.... [But the part of the motion condemning all attempts by Canadian organizations to promote BDS] elicits mistrust. Some supporters of the boycott have bad intentions, do not want peace, and are working against Israel. However, it cannot be denied that many of the boycott supporters are mistaken in good faith. Many organizations and individuals in Canada and abroad support the BDS movement out of the belief that it will somehow accelerate the peace process and be a non-violent initiative that leads to a lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their goal ultimately is the same as ours: a two-state solution with a secure, stable, and democratic Israel, living side-by-side with a secure, stable, and democratic Palestinian state. However, they are mistaken in the way this goal may be achieved.
— Stéphane Dion, St. Laurent MP and Foreign Affairs Minister
"The boycott, divest, sanctions campaigners claim it to be a human rights movement. In fact, it is nothing more than a thinly disguised, multi-dimensional hate campaign."
— Conservative MP Peter Kent