Canadian Jewish Group Joins Legal Fight to Exempt Students From Paying Fees Towards BDS
A leading Canadian Jewish group has joined a legal effort seeking to protect Canadian college students from schools from being forced to fund the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The Ontario Court of Appeal has granted intervener status to B’nai Brith Canada in a case over whether the students can opt out of paying certain incidental fees at their institutions, which may go to groups supporting anti-Israel policies.
In November 2018, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) — the largest student association in the country — passed a motion to financially support BDS-promoting groups and encourage its members to support BDS themselves. In response, the Ontario provincial government passed the Student Choice Initiative policy, which allowed students to refrain from paying non-essential fees. The courts struck down the policy in November 2019, a ruling now under appeal.
CFS has led the legal effort against the the Student Choice Initiative, claiming that making fees optional would hurt their efforts to support students. But in joining the government’s side, B’nai Brith argues that Ontario students should have the right to spend their money as they see fit — and to avoid diverting it to causes that run contrary to their beliefs.
Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said, “CFS claims to represent all students, but we are here to give voice to the thousands of students who do not feel represented by them and have made it clear that they want no part in funding what this organization is financing. The court must also take their perspective into account, and we will do our part to ensure that it does.”
Mostyn said, “This is very clearly a freedom-of-conscience issue, and it goes far beyond the Jewish community.”