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Canadian Parliament votes on anti BDS motion. Photo: screenshot
Canadian Parliament votes on anti BDS motion. Photo: screenshot

Canadian Parliament passes a motion condemning BDS by a vote of 229-51

By a vote of 229 for and 51 against, the Canadian Parliament passed a historic motion this afternoon which formally condemned the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement.

The Conservatives (including former Prime Minister Stephen Harper who attended the session to cast his vote against BDS), as well as the Liberals voted for the motion. Tom Muclair, leader of the NDP, opposed it as well as Bloc Québécois and three MPs of the Liberal Party (René Arseneault, Larry Bagnell and Nick Whalen).

The motion, which was brought on February 18, 2016 by Conservative MP’s Tony Clement and Michelle Rempel, called on Canada to reject BDS.

“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.”

After the announcement that the Liberals will join the Conservatives in rejecting BDS, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said that “the world will win nothing for boycotting Israel but depriving itself of the talents of its inventiveness”.

On February 18, during the debate on the motion urging the House to reject BDS, Michael Levitt, Liberal candidate for the riding of York Centre, pointed out that “BDS is about intolerance. It’s a broader movement to demonize and delegitimize Israel, and to collectively punish all Israelis by holding Israel alone responsible for the Arab-Israeli conflict”.

“Whereas anti-Semites have long targeted Jews throughout the world as the root of all society’s ills, this new form of anti-Semitism targets Israel as the Jew among the nations, singling out the Jewish State as the root of all ills in the world”, he continued.

Levitt also called attention to the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism, passed by the previous Conservative government in 2010, which recognized anti-Semitism as a pernicious evil and a global threat against the Jewish people, the State of Israel and free, democratic countries everywhere. Levitt said the Protocol is instructive in identifying anti-Semitism that is pervasive within the BDS movement. “Denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, for example, by claiming that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour – that is anti-Semitism. Applying double standards by requiring of Israel behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation – that is anti-Semitism. Using the symbols or images of classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis – that is anti-Semitism. Drawing comparison of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis – that is anti-Semitism. Holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the government of Israel – that is anti-Semitism.”

“Anti-Semitism so pervasive within the BDS movement involves the discrimination against and the denial of Jewish national self-determination and the right of the Jewish state to exist as the equal member of the family of nations.” – Michael Levitt, Liberal Candidate for York Centre

During the same debate, Anthony Housefather, Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, said the following: “The BDS movement as well is wrong because the thrust of what it is asking for is the disappearance of the State of Israel. BDS is saying that all Palestinian refugees must have the right of return to what is today Israel, which would automatically create a situation where we would not have a two-state solution. We would have a one-state solution where Israel was not a majority Jewish state. One of the three things that BDS is asking for is actually to make Israel disappear as a majority Jewish state, the only one in the whole entire world, and that is wrong. BDS, which again singles out Israel, is not looking at all those other countries in the world that engage in egregious human rights violations.”

“The whole idea of holding Israel to a higher moral standard than anyone else is clearly anti-Semitic” – Anthony Housefather, Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal

“Why are they not condemning Saudi Arabia, which does not even let women drive, and does not let women have any kind of rights? Why are they not condemning Syria, where the Assad regime has killed thousands and actually displaced millions of its own people? What about China? What about North Korea? There is not a word from the BDS movement about any of these other countries. Only Israel is condemned, as BDS holds it to a complete double standard. Indeed, I have been to many meeting where there is talk of BDS. I have heard that Israel should be held to a higher standard, that people do not think it is like other Arab countries. That is the new form of anti-Semitism. The whole idea of holding Israel to a higher moral standard than anyone else is clearly anti-Semitic.”

The Conservative Party’s position against BDS is well known. In January 2015, while in Israel on an official visit, then Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird issued a statement saying “Canada strongly supports Israel’s right to defend itself by itself and its right to live in peace with its neighbours. Canada will fight any efforts internationally to delegitimize the State of Israel, including the disturbing BDS movement.”

Former Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told the UN General Assembly that “Canada has taken a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination including rhetoric towards Israel, and attempts to delegitimize Israel such as the BDS movement.”

Member of Parliament Jeff Watson called the BDS movement “hateful and deceitful” and denounced “this new anti-Semitism which is poisoning our Canadian campuses.”

During last October’s election campaign, the Liberals also voiced their opposition to BDS. Several days before the elections, a Liberal Party flier titled “Don’t let Harper make Israel a partisan issue” was distributed in predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods in central and north Toronto, which read in part: “We abhor and fight BDS, the targeting of Israel at the UN and all other examples of the new anti-Semitism and efforts to isolate Israel”.

“The BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses.” – Justin Trudeau

In March, 2015, ahead of a motion put forward by McGill University undergraduates’ association which urged the university to divest from companies “profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories”, then Liberal leader Trudeau tweeted: “The BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses. As a McGill alum, I’m disappointed [the motion was introduced].”

The Canadian vote comes days after the British government enacted measures to prevent public bodies from engaging in or endorsing boycotts of the State of Israel. The measures, which make such boycotts illegal, represents a serious blow to the BDS movement.

Britain is the second major European country which enacted legislation against boycotting Israel. France passed such laws in 2003, and they have served as the basis for multiple convictions of BDS activists who were sentenced for incitement to discrimination or hate due to their actions on Israel.

In the US, state legislatures in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana passed anti-BDS resolutions and about a dozen other states are considering following suit.

On February 17, French banking giant BNP Paribas announced that it is shutting down a major financing source for the BDS campaign in Germany. This is the latest in an anti-BDS trend in Germany and, potentially, the first step in cutting of BDS funding in Europe.

On February 20, barely one month after passing a motion supporting a boycott against Israel, the Spanish municipality of Aviles reversed its own decision and denounced it as discriminatory.

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About Ilana Shneider

Ilana Shneider
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]


  1. David, please site sources.

  2. Boo to the Dippers.

  3. Shame on you Liberals!. Shame on me for voting for the Liberal candidate (Mr Arya) who now represents the riding of Nepean.
    Israel is occupying Palestinian, Syrian & Lebanese land in a gross violation international law.
    It is the only (yes the only) country in the world which still occupies another country and inflicts collective punishment on its inhabitants. Torture, house demolishing, deportations, war crimes are well documented and condemned by many international & humanitarian organizations
    To hide behind your finger and abstaining is no different than voting for and encouraging Israel to continue with its policies.

  4. GREAT. Just a suggestion to the editor: The word “Israel” is not mentioned in your headline and that’s a pity. Not everyone knows what is BDS… Thanks

  5. BDS is nor anti Semetic. It calls for a boycott of products made in the occupied territories which are sometimes labeled “made in Israel”. There are Jewish organizations which support BDS. such as IJV and opposition groups in Israel. It is a non violent protest against the injustice of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

  6. Well it passed with an overwhelming majority. This shows Liberal leadership (Trudeau) is not as anti-Israel. But unless Israel actively works towards a 2 state solution, the pressure will keep increasing. The boycott movements of the past only went away when change was effected. This is the sad reality.

    • Israel has repeatedly worked toward peace and a 2 state solution which has been repeatedly rejected by PLO. Best is a one state = Israel, they know how and do take care of their own and rush to aid others around the world in need. Do the Muslim countries aid their own Palestinian “refugees”? NO. Muslim Brotherhood, PLO, etc. want to perpetuate the conflict and blame Israel, they want the world to reject their own people and blame Israel. PLO and other Muslim countries created all this BS to destroy Israel and the Jews, who are one of the biggest defenders of democracy and freedom. Read about stealth jihad, people. Research and learn what is really going on. It is truly terrifying, not just for Israel but for USA and the free world.

    • At the end of the First World War Ottoman Palestine was given to France and the UK. France created 2 Arab countries – Stria and Lebanon, and the British created Trans-Jordan, which was free of Jews. Many Jews remained in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco but were chased out (or executed) after the UN 1947 vote, and 1948 Declaration of Israel. Hence a Muslim area about the size of Australia + USA is prohibited or too dangerous for Jews to live………and people worry about Jews living in an area about the size of suburban Melbourne (West Bank). The “Palestinians” were given an opportunity to see how they would run Gaza……well, that’s really worked out fabulously hasn’t it.

      Perhaps the problems would disappear if the Palestinians of the West Bank did what all the Jews of the Arab World did form 1948 – move somewhere else! There’s a bucket-load of wonderful Arab/Islamic countries where their contribution would be valued 🙂

  7. 51 ….?! Hope some of them were absent to justify why they were against this motion ….

  8. the NDP are dull minded Leftie sheep, they baaaa together and hate together.

    We should rejoice that the Liberals did not side with insanity and proved to be able minded and capable of moral thinking.

  9. One third of the House was opposed or made themselves absent.

    • Shame on them and shame on you.
      It’s not OK to ask a country to commit suicide.
      You should ask yourself what deep seated issues led you to your conviction.

  10. Prof David Newman Ben Gurion University Israel

    The Canadian government (like the British government) declare BDS and boycott illegal while the JNF Canada practices boycott against popular Israeli singer Nini Achinoam. Well done Government of Canada. . Shame on you JNF Canada.

  11. Excusing Israel for war crimes and an apartheid government is silly. They’re supposed to be a democracy – it’s high time they started acting like one.

  12. Only a couple of Liberals, they should be Knighted!! This is an abomination against Israel as a State.

  13. When many war crimes have been committed by the same people that voted against BDS, an unarmed movement but has left all other human violations alone, tells us who is sleeping with Satan, leader of Zionism that has put Canada and UK on the inhumane list of nations that cover Israel’s war crimes and Apartheid. Voting for israel seems to prevent a false flag by israel.

  14. And over time, as Canada’s Moslem population increases relative to the existing population, due to Justin Trudeau’s “immigration policy” that 51 will grow.

  15. this is disgusting to see….I guess Canada will do nothing and sit back watch the illegal settlements continue to grow.. and the human rights violated every single day by the IDF … what a sad day to be a citizen of Canada the country of peace not the country that backed these killers of children

  16. Nays:
    LIB: Mr. Charlie Angus
    (Timmins—James Bay)
    LIB: Mr. René Arseneault
    NDP: Ms. Niki Ashton
    (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski)
    NDP: Mr. Robert Aubin
    LIB: Mr. Larry Bagnell
    NDP: Ms. Sheri Benson
    (Saskatoon West)
    NDP: Mr. Daniel Blaikie
    NDP: Ms. Rachel Blaney
    (North Island—Powell River)
    BQ: Mr. Michel Boudrias
    NDP: Mr. Alexandre Boulerice
    (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie)
    NDP: Ms. Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet
    NDP: Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau
    NDP: Mr. Richard Cannings
    (South Okanagan—West Kootenay)
    NDP: Mr. Guy Caron
    (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
    NDP: Mr. François Choquette
    NDP: Mr. David Christopherson
    (Hamilton Centre)
    NDP: Mr. Nathan Cullen
    (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
    NDP: Mr. Matthew Dubé
    NDP: Ms. Linda Duncan
    (Edmonton Strathcona)
    NDP: Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault
    NDP: Mr. Scott Duvall
    (Hamilton Mountain)
    BQ: Mr. Rhéal Fortin
    NDP: Mr. Randall Garrison
    BQ: Mrs. Marilène Gill
    NDP: Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle
    NDP: Mrs. Carol Hughes
    NDP: Mr. Gord Johns
    NDP: Ms. Georgina Jolibois
    (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River)
    NDP: Ms. Jenny Kwan
    (Vancouver East)
    NDP: Ms. Hélène Laverdière
    NDP: Mr. Alistair MacGregor
    NDP: Ms. Sheila Malcolmson
    NDP: Mr. James Maloney
    BQ: Mr. Simon Marcil
    NDP: Mr. Brian Masse
    (Windsor West)
    NDP: Ms. Irene Mathyssen
    NDP: Ms. Christine Moore
    NDP: Mr. Thomas Mulcair
    NDP: Mr. Pierre Nantel
    NDP: Mr. Louis Plamondon
    NDP: Ms. Anne Minh-Thu Quach
    NDP: Ms. Tracey Ramsey
    NDP: Mr. Murray Rankin
    NDP: Mr. Romeo Saganash
    NDP: Ms. Brigitte Sansoucy
    NDP: Mr. Wayne Stetski
    NDP: Mr. Kennedy Stewart
    (Burnaby South)
    BQ: Mr. Luc Thériault
    NDP: Ms. Karine Trudel
    NDP: Mr. Erin Weir
    LIB: Mr. Nick Whalen
    (St. John’s East)

  17. Strange, no mention of Israel’s serial, ongoing and accelerating violations of international humanitarian law, e.g.. the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statutes, which are binding on all UN members.

    To be brief, in gross and thoroughly documented violations of international law, Israel is belligerently and illegally occupying Palestinian (and other Arab) lands, brutalizing and killing the indigenous Arab inhabitants, inflicting collective punishments on them, demolishing their homes, imprisoning them without charge, torturing them, and confiscating their lands and water. (There is no special provision in international humanitarian law that enables Israel to violate it with impunity.)

    Also, no mention of the fact that as a precondition for admittance to the UN, in 1949, Israel declared before the UNGA and by signing the Lausanne Peace Conference Protocol that it would abide by UNGA Res. 194 (based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and permit the return of the then 800,000 expelled Palestinian refugees. Israel has ignored its promise and a further approximately 250,000 Palestinians were dispossessed and expelled during and after the war Israel launched on 5 June 1967.

    Furthermore, by signing the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO has long since agreed to accept a state for Palestinians comprised of the mere 22% of their original homeland. Under Arafat, the PLO also agreed to share East Jerusalem with Israel and bearing in mind Israel’s demographic concerns, to not insist on the return of all refugees, that in accordance with the Declaration of Human Rights, a solution to their plight must be based on UNGA Res. 194, but include significant compromises.

    It is readily apparent that the winds of change are blowing ever stronger and increasing numbers of people around the world, including righteous Jews, are comprehending the truth.

  18. 51??? Really?! My heart just sank

  19. Who were the 51? We need those names published!

  20. Why the state of Israel takes so much place in news?Small population, let it live.But it surfaces over and over like a cancer.What is with Israel ?Can we have a brake of it ?World has so many weaker nations.Israel please make place for the others….

  21. Now they need to be kicked from all university campuses.

  22. The NDP is unfortunately locked into a narrow perspective.

  23. please provide a list of who voted AGAINST. As citiziens we need to be aware of this.


  24. My only question is :
    NDP – what ? Or are you for giving up everything to do with Israel? Because this one of those cases of either FOR or AGAINST ….
    (My list would be extremely long, but will give only major points)
    – any new medical innovations
    – almost all things computer related
    – cellphones and parts thereof

    Shall I continue?

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