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May 11, 2015 1:05 pm

Canadian Government Slams ‘Bizarre’ Report on Use of Hate Crime Laws Against Pro-BDS Groups (UPDATE)

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Canadian government has rejected a report by local CBC News that the country is considering the use of hate crime laws against advocacy organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“This story is inaccurate and ridiculous,” the federal public safety minister’s office said in a statement. “These laws have been on the books for many years and have not changed. We won’t dignify this bizarre conspiracy theory with further comment.”

CBC News reporter Neil Macdonald said that he sent an inquiry to the office of Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney about a speech the minister gave at the United Nations promising a “zero tolerance” approach to groups participating in BDS.

In response, a representative of the Public Safety Department extensively listed the country’s hate crime laws, but declined to address the issue of BDS directly, according to emails later released by CBC News

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“I can tell you that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of laws against hate crime anywhere in the world,” said Josee Sirois. “We will not allow hate crimes to undermine our way of life, which is based on diversity and inclusion.”

Macdonald claimed that Sirois’ response implied that the government could take action against pro-BDS religious organizations such as the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers, as well as campus groups, civil society organizations, labor unions, and others.

However, while the Canadian government could enforce prosecution priorities to Canadian police, any resulting prosecution would need to get approval from a provincial attorney general. In addition, civil liberty groups said that such a move would be challenged under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian bill of rights.

The Canadian penal code prescribes a maximum two-year jail sentence to anybody “who incites hatred against any identifiable group,” which includes nationalities.

The only way out of being charged with committing a hate crime is to prove that your beliefs are religiously based or based on religious texts, or if the statements are proved to be true.

If statements supporting BDS are libelous and encourage a hatred of Israel based on such claims, then those making such claims could be charged with committing a hate crime, said attorney Gerald D. Chipeur, who has argued on hate crimes cases before.

In January, former Canadian foreign minister John Baird signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Israeli authorities committing to fight BDS, and described the movement as “the new face of anti-Semitism.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government are known to be strong friends of Israel.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to include the Canadian government’s rejection of CBC News’ report claiming that Canada was weighing the use of hate laws against pro-BDS groups.

Eliezer Sherman contributed to this report.

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  • Dante

    Too bad that the Canadian government does not consider to use hate crime laws against these antisemites.

  • Neil McDonald has just proven what my son has said for years that if there are not stories around certain types of Media will take like something McDonald was doing in his column inventing a story that had no basis in fact. My son who worked in Media Relations for many years said Dad believe only half of what you read and hear unless you have witnessed yourself. Well his statements have been proven to me time and time again.. Just last week he said you have noted the news reporters use recorders during interviews, meetings etc and then go out and misquote the news does not say much for this type of reported. To me McDonald is somewhat in this category. Lastly I wonder if he re read the colum prior to submitting it. I can’t believe that he did as any one with much sense can see what he is suggesting that can happen from bill 51 is ridiculous as the Dept of Safety stated as well as the PM’s office.

  • Abu Nudnik

    I don’t like hate laws at all. If free speech only is free if I express the commonly held beliefs, it’s a sham. It’s the thoughts I abhor that must be protected because my thoughts are abhorrent to someone too. Witness Garland, Texas, where a mass murder was recently thwarted. The drawing of Mohammed was, to them, punishable by murder.

    There are courts to sue people for defamation. Use those. The ability to lock up people for speaking makes us all potential political prisoners cowering in the face of governmental forces that can and do change and whose notions of “hates speech” can swing wildly. It’s a bad idea.

    If McDonald were covering a children’s birthday party, he’d find a way to compare it to the problems in Israel/Gaza/the West Bank.

    • Si Jones

      Agreed!

  • Larinthian

    If the definition of a hate crime according to the Canadian justice system is religion based, then the BDS movement should be considered a hate group and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. BDS, is a campaign that directs its attacks against Israel exclusively. Israel is a Jewish state, a give away to acknowledge this fact would be the star of David in the middle of the Israeli flag. Judaism is a religion, so it should meet the criteria. But, even if a case couldn’t be made that BDS is a hate group, there should be laws enacted that would include legal penalties to this group and groups like them . BDS serves absolutely no purpose other than stoking the flames of anti Semitism and anti Israel persecution. There is a lot that could be done at universities, which has become a hotbed for BDS activities. When Jewish students are routinely physically attacked and threatened, when teachers manipulate course material to tarnish Israel and students are told that any student who doesn’t adhere to this policy, will be failed, when BDS goes around the campus, country, and world, to slander Israel with false claims of “occupation” and “apartheid” When millions of dollars are spent at schools, so curriculum can be manipulated to reflect the pro Arab agenda When Israeli businesses are boycotted, you don’t have to be Henry Kissinger to figure out, we have a big problem. The universities should step in and do something by establishing clear and identifiable criteria of policy that spells out what is acceptable and what isn’t and then set up a serious of penalties that progressively get harsher depending on the seriousness of the offense. This isn’t the 30’s and 40’s, people should be able to carry on with their lives without slander, aggression, and physical attack. These problems will continue to exist and get worse, until a level of morality and justice pervades society to stand up and defeat evil.

  • Lynne T

    Neil Macdonald belongs to the Noam Chomsky School of Journalism. Any stories about Israel originating with him should be viewed with suspicion.

  • Israel must be steadfast in protecting its rights and its people
    Many nations and people are questioning Israel’s control of its liberated territory.
    No one is mentioning that the Arab countries had ejected about a million Jewish people and their children from their countries, confiscated their assets, businesses, homes and Real estate. Many of the Jews ejected from Arab countries died while their forced departure from Arab countries, due to hardship, famine and starvation. 650,00 Jewish people and their children of these expelled Jewish people and their children were resettled in Greater Israel. The Land the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people 120,440 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles, which is over 5-6 times the size of Israel, and its value today is the trillions of dollars.
    The Jewish people and their children during the over 2,000 years living in Arab countries have suffered Pogroms, Libel claims, beheadings, beatings, false imprisonment and extreme hardship as a second class citizens. They had their businesses and homes pillaged, their wives and daughters raped, sold them as slaves, their houses of worship pillaged and burned, forced conversion to Islam.

    Today over half of Israel’s population are Jews expelled from Arab countries and their children and grandchildren.

    The Audacity of the Arab countries in demanding territory from the Jewish people in Palestine after they ejected over a million Jewish people and their children who have lived in Arab land for over 2,000 years and after they confiscated all their assets and Real estate 5-6 times the size of Israel (120,440 sq. km. – 75,000 sq. mi.), valued in the trillions of dollars.
    Now the Arab nations are demanding more land and more compensation.
    The Arab countries have chased the million Jews and their children and now the want to chase them away again, from their own historical land.

    Israel must respond with extreme force to any violent demonstration and terror. Israel’s population must have peace and tranquility without intimidation by anyone.
    The Jewish people have suffered enough in the Diaspora for the past 2,500 years. It is time for the Jewish people to live as free people in their own land without violence and terror.
    It is time to consider that the only alternative is a population transfer of the Arab-Palestinians to the territories the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people and settle this dispute once and for all. Many Arab leaders had suggested these solutions over the years.
    YJ Draiman

  • kris kristian

    GOD BLESS CANADA FOR OUTLAWING BDS WHICH IS A HATE CRIME. AND A LIE.
    BDS WAS STARTED BY MARWAN BARGHUTI IN AN ISRAELI PRISON. HIS SON HAS SPREAD THIS HATE ALL OVER THE WORLD.
    TIME FOR BDS TO TAKE ON ISLAM AS THE SPREADERS OF HATE AND LIES ABOUT ISRAEL.
    UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ARE 1.6 BILLION MUSLIMS IN THE WORLD AND ONLY 14 MILLION JEWS ALL OVER THE WORLD

    IT IS SICKENING TO READ ABOUT THE LIES AND HATRED SPREAD AGAINST THE JEWISH STATE.
    THE LATEST IS THAT THE JEWS HAVE IT IN THEIR BIBLE THAT JEWS MUST KILL.
    THE JEWS DO NOT KILL.
    AS SOMEONE WROTE IN THE PRESS.
    ‘muslims kill muslims
    muslims kill christians
    muslims kill jews.
    christians kill muslims
    christians kill jews.
    jew do not kill

    ISRAEL IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, WHERETHERE IS FULL FREEDOM OF ALL RELIGIONS AND NO APARTHEID.
    THOSE WHO HAVE VISITED ISRAEL, HAVE GONE HOME AS AMBASSADORS FOR ISRAEL BECAUSE THEY SAW THAT THERE IS NO TRACE OF APARTHEID.
    THE WORLD CONDEMNS THE “WALL” BUT IT HAS REDUCED THE TERRORISM BY ABOUT 95%.
    NO COUNTY IN THE WORLD WOULD ALLOW TERRORISM AGAINST THEIR COUNTRY.
    WHEN THE PALESTINIANS OUTLAW TERRLORRISM, AND ACCEPT ISRAEL AS A FACT, THEN THE “WALL” WILL COME DOWN
    WHENEVER ISRAEL IS ATTACKED AND THE IDF RETALIATES AGINST THIS AGGRESSION, ISRAEL IS CONDEMNED BY THE WORLD.
    NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WOULD ACCEPT TERRORISM, BLOWING UP PASSENGERS IN A BUS, RESTAURANT, ETC. PALESTINIn SUICIDE MURDERS ARE NOT CONDEMNED BY ABBAS, BUT RATHER, HE NAMES STREETS, SCHOOLS, PARKs ETC AFTER THE KILLERS AS ‘HEROES”
    THE PA EVEN GIVES THE FAMILIES OF KILLERS A SALARY
    THAT IS WHERE THE BDS SHOULD BE.

  • Barry

    Kneel MacScumbag has long history of unfair and imbalanced behavior. Having been on the payroll of various terrorist and child-molesting organ izations and spending his time with beastiality groups, he also found time to, what else, blame Israel (Jews) for everything from the eruption of Mount vesuvius to world war 3. While some people might think his accounts of lunacy were caused by over – exposure to child and animal pornography, others say he is just a shill for MAMBLA/Iran propoganda.

    Whatever the case, he did indeed study at the gobbels institute for advanced anti-Semitism and therefore should be regarded as the best in his field.

  • M. Otero

    If one has any discernment, one should recognize the hand behind the whole sacrifice of the Palestinian Arabs: the Arab League. The good hearted Quakers took up the cause and turned the tragedy over to UNRWA which has extended that tragedy into perpetuity. Mid 20th century, 138,900,000 people were displaced including 870,000 North African Jews. The League has been sacrificing their own people in the League’s evil strategy. There can be no successful negotiation without the League explaining why an Arab world 660 times the size of Israel can’t absorb the original 700,000 Palestinians most of whom are now deceased. Lands twice the size of Israel were stolen from the North African Jews.

  • steven L

    What is taking so much time for the US congress to act on this racist issue?

  • Julian Clovelley

    This appears to be an article devoted to something not happening

    I am rather reminded of a childhood poem:

    Yesterday upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there
    He wasn’t there again to day
    I wish that man would go away

    Is there anything else that didn’t happen today that JNS would like to tell us about?

    Or perhaps – to inject a little variety – Something that did happen that is doesn’t want to tell us about?

  • Leo Toystory

    God protect save us all if Justin-Trudeau becomes Prime Minister. He makes Miliband look like a rational intelligent leader.

  • The BDS conspiracy is a hate crime. I’m with the Canadian Government to prosecute BDS. To tolerate BDS is to commit hate crime.

  • Vivarto

    The only way out of being charged with committing a hate crime is to prove that your beliefs are religiously based or based on religious texts, or if the statements are proved to be true.

    This is really stupid.
    The Nazis and Muhammadans can declare their ideology a “religion” and get away with their antisemitism.

  • zg

    It’s about time. Hope many more countries will follow.

  • It would be refreshing to see the hate crime laws used against medievalists resisting modernity. The United Nations should take a leaf from Harper’s notebook and end the obvious assault on modernity that anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism entails. See http://clarespark.com/2014/06/18/how-ralph-bunche-sold-out-and-failed-in-palestine/.

  • Fernando

    Absolutely ridiculous how Canada is using Law terminology/tactics to dictate there own personal views. All this tells me is that the boycotts are getting to them and I hope it’s hitting them where it most hurts, their wallets. The truth can be put behind bars, but it cannot be destroyed.

    • Dante

      Of couse, it is true that it can be put behind bars but not destroyed but not because it were “the truth” but because it’s like many other things which never will be extinct as long as mankind exists, e.g. rape and murder.

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