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article imageCanadian Green Party supports BDS against Israel in platform

By Ken Hanly     Aug 9, 2016 in Politics
Ottawa - The Green Party of Canada is the first major federal party to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Party leader Elizabeth May is opposed to the resolution.
After the vote at the Party's convention in Ottawa, May said she is going to reflect on her future role as leader of the Green Party. The Canadian House of Commons voted to support a Conservative motion to condemn the movement in February. Even though the Liberals have a majority in parliament, most Liberals including the leader Justin Trudeau supported the Conservative opposition motion. They could have easily defeated it. Although the New Democratic Party (NDP) supports Israel they opposed the motion as did May of the Green Party. Even though objecting to the motion, Mulcair is a strong supporter of Israel.
May, who represents the BC constituency of Saanich-Gulf Islands told a reporter from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC): 'We had a very abbreviated debate and a very quick vote that left me breathless. I'm going away for the first week off I've had off since Christmas and I will be doing a lot of reflecting. It's only been since the convention that I've been wondering what's the best way to get this position reversed so that in the next election Green Party candidates across Canada are not facing a complete distraction of an issue."
May complained that she did not have time to explain her opposition to the BDS movement. She says the inclusion of the plank in the platform would result in a polarized campaign. She said the vote was quick and left her breathless because it had not been debated fully. She claimed the process was inadequate for a resolution that was so controversial. She also expressed disappointment at the outcome of the convention and Green Party support for an "extremely distressing" policy.
She said that the BDS movement is not the Green Party and does not represent the way she would want the party to express its concerns about the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank. May noted that some organizations such as the United Church support some aspects of BDS but she nevertheless considered the BDS a polarizing campaign that should not come from the Green Party. May said she would continue as MP for her constituency until the next Federal Election in 2019. However, she said: "If there's ever a place where I decide that being leader of the Green Party doesn't help me do the best job I can do for the constituents of Saanich-Gulf Islands then I know where my allegiance lies — and it's with Saanich-Gulf Islands." In a leadership review in April May received 93.6 percent support.
Dimitri Lascaris, the Justice spokesperson for the party, and sponsor of the resolution said that he hoped the motion would break down what he calls the taboo in Canada against discussion of the role of BDS in fighting for Palestinian rights. The BDS movement was started in 2005. It is supported by a number of organizations even some liberal Israeli groups. The African National Congress and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) are supporters. There is heated debate about the effectiveness of the BDS and whether it should be supported.
The Green Party resolution says that it will support using the BDS to target those sectors of the Israel economy that are profiting from the occupation, until Israel stops building settlements in the occupied territories and enters into negotiations with the Palestinians. The resolution also opposes efforts to prohibit or punish support for BDS. The February Conservative motion against the BDS supported by most Liberals described BDS as "anti-Israel" and "a form of discrimination". It also called upon the government to condemn any individuals or groups that promote BDS within Canada. The bill is condemned in the appended video by an NDP MP.
Although May opposed the BDS motion at the recent convention she said she understood the motivation of party members in bringing it forward and said she did not have to agree with 100 percent of party policies. Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs condemned the resolution saying the BDS movement "seeks to censor and blacklist Israelis" and "is fundamentally discriminatory and utterly at odds with Canadian values". Prior to the vote May had defended the party's right to debate the BDS resolution saying: “Our convention next weekend will be the first time in decades that any Canadian political party has permitted a discussion on Israel’s foreign policy. This is not a sign that we are anti-Israel. Rather, it is proof that we have faith in respectful democratic discourse and free speech. What has been sorely lacking in Canadian political discourse is an acceptance of the plight of the Palestinian people. Why is it taboo for Canadians to discuss foreign policy in the Middle East unless they omit certain aspects of Israeli policy? We can criticise any other country’s decisions respectfully and diplomatically, why not Israel’s?”
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