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House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was movement.

Topics

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I will articulate it a little better then.

Is anyone who is arguing for the boycott of Israel animated by hate?

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, anyone who supports the boycott, divest, sanctions program, or supports Israeli Apartheid Week is motivated either by hate or by ignorance.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, I always enjoy hearing from the member for Thornhill. He has tremendous eloquence, undoubtedly honed in his illustrious career in journalism. I assume that background has also given him respect for freedom of speech.

The Conservatives have tried to argue in the House that free speech simply means that we, as parliamentarians, are free to condemn certain viewpoints. That is fine, but this motion is not about that. The motion calls upon the government to condemn individual Canadians for expressing certain viewpoints. Would the member for Thornhill acknowledge that this is not what we do in a free society?

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his fond memories of my previous career.

The short answer to this question is that the motion before us speaks against a campaign, based in hate, created by those who would seek the destruction, first economically and then perhaps by other means, of the state of Israel.

The proponents of the BDS campaign, the propaganda for the BDS campaign, will try, as I said in my remarks, to cloak this as a means of speeding the resolution of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinian people.

I have been to Palestine. I have been to Israel scores of times over the last five decades. I realize the problems on the ground. I remember the Palestinian camps when they were camps, when they were tents before they became concrete places of misery. The inhabitants were held in place by their leaders and by surrounding Arab countries, which remain determined today to deny the right of the state of Israel to exist.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, is my colleague aware of any other Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Syrian regime? Does he know about one against Iran for its atrocious human rights? Does he know about one against North Korea or maybe against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of women?

Is he aware of any other Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions? Is he aware of any other action against Lebanon or Egypt, for example, which bulldozes houses when they want retribution in Gaza, or floods tunnels and kills Palestinians? Does he know of any other movement that actually mentions those kinds of things?

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, the short answer is no. Those who support BDS in a variety of forms are true hypocrites in the sense that they selectively, as we see it at the United Nations every year, the group of 77 and others, single one democratic entity for discrimination, for criticism and, I regret, for hate.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my learned colleague from Thornhill, my colleagues, the members from Calgary Nose Hill and Parry Sound—Muskoka, for the contributions so far to this debate. This matter is personal to me. My wife Evangeline has Jewish heritage and my father-in-law, Winfred Winfield, is also Jewish by birth.

The motion before the House deals with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as BDS, an acronym I will be using, against the state of Israel. Like I have done before, I am reminded of the Yiddish proverb, “The smallest vengeance poisons the soul”.

The BDS movement is vengeful, petty, counterproductive. It poisons the olive branch of peace that individuals on both sides of the conflict are attempting to nurture. It discriminates based on nationality and ethnicity. It undermined peace by endangering Palestinian jobs linked to Israeli-owned companies. It imports a foreign conflict to Canada.

It achieves none of the goals of its supporters. It is not pro-Palestinian; it is anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and, in many cases, anti-Semitic. It poisons whatever potential for goodwill there exists between these two competing sides. It shields the anti-Semites behind a veil a righteousness to pretend to fight for the weak and the downtrodden, while actually promoting hate, a hate that poisons the soul.

In 2011, the Boutique Le Marcheur, a shoe store on St. Denis Street in Montreal was the target of activists in a pro-BDS group who protested owners Yves Archambault and Ginette Auger's inclusion of Israeli made shoes in their stocks. The sheer pettiness of picking on small business owners in Canada, trying to earn a living, achieves nothing toward the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I would also like to inform the House that the Quebec National Assembly rejected any BDS attempts against Israel. François Bonnardel, the MNA for Granby, moved the following motion on February 9, 2011, together with Lawrence Bergman, MNA for D'Arcy-McGee, Martin Lemay, MNA for Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, Éric Caire, MNA for La Peltrie, and Marc Picard, MNA for Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

I salute these members of the Quebec National Assembly. I will read the motion:

That the National Assembly of Quebec condemn the boycott that has been held for several weeks in front of Boutique Le Marcheur in Montreal.

That, by virtue of the principles of free enterprise and the free market, the National Assembly support the owner of this business, Yves Archambault, who has been established on this street for 25 years and who pays taxes in Quebec.

That the National Assembly reiterate its support for the Cooperation Agreement Between the Government of Québec and the Government of the State of Israel, which was signed in 1997 and renewed in 2007.

The only member of the Quebec National Assembly who refused to give consent to debate the motion was the MNA for Mercier, Amir Khadir. Mr. Khadir shamefully refused to agree to debate the motion, since he knew very well that his support of the boycott was morally indefensible and, quite simply, repugnant.

Members of the National Assembly strongly condemned the movement to boycott the Boutique Le Marcheur, which is a boycott against Israel. By doing so, Quebec stated in no uncertain terms that anti-Semitism is unacceptable in a free and democratic society.

The impact of BDS reaches university campuses throughout the world and Canada as well, where BDS campaigns become Israeli-phobic events; that is to say Jewish-phobic events.

I am ashamed of Concordia University, from where I hold a bachelor's degree in political science, for its soft response to BDS on campus. The Concordia University student union held a successful yes referendum by-election vote in 2014 endorsing BDS. I am ashamed because it poisons academic freedom, freedom of speech, open debate, and mutual respect.

I agree with Alan Shepard, the president of Concordia University, who said at the time:

...[academic] freedom—to think the thoughts we want to think, to test ideas however controversial—is the bedrock of university life. Boycotts by definition foreclose all opportunities for such a free exchange of ideas and perspectives.

BDS on Canadian campuses poisons the learning environment. It creates an environment that welcomes further hatred toward Israelis and Jewish persons.

As Bassem Eid, a human rights activist and commentator on Palestinian domestic affairs, has written for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He says, BDS supporters are “creating more hatred, enmity, and polarization”. This from a supporter of the Palestinian cause. When he attempted to speak at a University of Johannesburg event to criticize Israel for its settlements in the West Bank, he was taken aback by what he described in his own words as the “raw hatred and the sheer unreasoning aggression” of the BDS crowd.

Mr. Eid went on to write in the Fikra Forum, June 25, 2015, “There is no connection between the tactics and objectives of the BDS movement and the on-the-ground realities of the Middle East.” Again, BDS enables a poisonous, vengeful brew of anti-Semitism.

In 2012, Israel accounted for 81% of Palestinian exports, less than 1% of Israeli GDP, but Palestinian purchases from Israel were two-thirds of the total Palestinian imports, or 27% of Palestinian GDP. How will sanctions improve any of this? How will boycotts help the families that need these jobs?

BDS supporters want to obliterate the vast trade surplus Israel extends to Palestine and offer nothing in return. Trade builds understanding. Trade builds trust over time. Trade, especially free trade, builds successes that a future peace agreement can be built upon.

Israel has enjoyed a free trade agreement with Canada since 1997, which has tripled our trade to $1.5 billion in 2015 alone. Israel is our trusted trading partner and a friend when it comes to the fight against international terrorism.

The BDS movement poisons rather than enlightens global dialogue around the peace process. Israel invests heavily in Palestine and the rest of the world typically does not.

BDS targets Israel for special treatment when there are horrific regimes with much worse human rights records. It singles out Israel for special treatment on human rights when no widespread BDS movement exists against serial human rights violators such as Cuba, Russia, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, China, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Zimbabwe, and North Korea. I do not know of any BDS movements against their regimes.

Where is the North Korean BDS movement, a regime that has brutalized millions of its people, generations in fact, for half a century, a regime that openly has used forced labour camps where political pariahs are dispatched, where their children can spend a lifetime toiling in medieval conditions?

Where is the Venezuelan movement for BDS against the Maduro regime, against the Chavistas, a government that intimidates, censors, and prosecutes its critics, jails opposition politicians on spurious grounds? Its police forces engage in arbitrary arrests and violently suppress demonstrations with total impunity. All the while it enjoys a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

BDS is immoral. It begins with a fundamental error for Jewish people. Israelis or Israelites are the indigenous peoples of the region who continue to return to their homeland from exile. The demands of the BDS movement are inconsistent with achieving a durable peace and incompatible facts on the ground in the current conflict.

Israel has agreed in the past, at least three times to my count, to peace. In 1967, it agreed to the conditions in UN Security Council Resolution 242; the Palestinians refused. Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the prior prime minister of Israel, offered peace twice in 2000-01 and 2007. The first time the Palestinian leadership refused and the second time there was no response to its overtures.

Even as BDS fails in its overt goals, it succeeds in eroding the clear moral recognition that Israel has a right to exist as a thriving Jewish state, the only Jewish state of clear Jewish character anywhere in the world.

Palestinians and Israelis need to reconcile. I accept that. It must happen. They do not need to reject and vilify each other. We must not assist in this rejection and vilification by allowing BDS campaigners and campaigns to run in Canada without some rejection of it from this Parliament. I ask members to support the motion to have a clear, unanimous motion in the House.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Saint-Laurent Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, the boycott of Israel is not a good idea. It will not help the cause of peace for the reasons I mentioned in my speech and for many of the reasons mentioned in my colleague's speech.

The member has said that it is important to not vilify each other. Does he not think that is exactly what he is doing? A lot of people of good faith wrongly think that the boycott would be a good solution. In order to convince them, does he think it is helpful to call them racists, anti-Semites, hypocrites, ignorant? Does he think that is the way to make progress in Canada and in Israel for Palestinians, for Jews, for everyone? What positive result may come from this simplistic approach?

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, the member spoke very eloquently earlier in his comments.

I just call a spade a spade. I believe in calling it what it is, and if it is racist, it is racist. Not all campaigners for BDS are. There are situations of people through sheer ignorance, like the member from Thornhill pointed out, who support these causes. However, again I ask this. Where is the BDS movement against the Chavistas? Where is the BDS movement against totalitarian regimes across the world? Where are those people standing up for the rights of people who are truly downtrodden? I am a Canadian of Polish heritage. Where was the BDS movement against the Soviet Union?

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, the member for Calgary Shepard quoted a motion from the Quebec National Assembly on this issue.

I would like to draw a clear distinction between that motion and the motion we have before us today. This Conservative motion not only asks this House to endorse a certain statement, but it calls upon the government to condemn individual Canadians for taking a certain position.

The member for Calgary Shepard talked about the importance of academic freedom and freedom of speech. I would like to ask him how he can stand up in the House and call upon the government to condemn individuals for expressing or promoting certain views.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, it is about leadership. That is what we are asking the House to express, and for the government to express as well.

In this case we are not condemning specific individuals, but are condemning ideas. We are condemning specific movements, not the individuals who take part in them. Like the member for Thornhill said, some of them do it because of sheer ignorance.

Some of them do it because they are motivated by hate, and BDS campaigners provide them with a shield to claim to be self-righteous or to be fighting for a righteous cause. It enables them by not speaking out in this crucible of our democracy and clearly say that such actions, such hate, such hate campaigns do not belong in Canada.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I can understand the Liberals' discomfort with our motion. It is a motion about principle. The definition of a Liberal is someone who turns opportunism to the level of a principle.

One of the reasons I am so proud to be a Conservative is that we have principles, we defend them, we work for them, and we advocate for those principles.

On the other hand, we have the NDP. Let us not forget their founder, J. S. Woodsworth, who opposed Canada's participation in the Second World War. Where would western society be had we followed what the NDP's founder wanted?

This is a matter of principle. For those who say we are attacking Canadians, that is absolutely false. What is being discussed here is an idea. Debating ideas is obviously something the two other parties are very much afraid of. In this particular case, we are right in standing up for democracy and opposing racism in this situation.

I would like to ask my hon. friend why it is important to have a principled foreign policy and a principled policy regarding the BDS movement.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question.

It is because we Canadians stand on principle. We believe in things; we believe in them, and we speak up for them. I would like to point out that Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement, has come out against the two-state solution. He has also actively advocated for a violent uprising by any means against Israeli citizens.

When we have the founder of a movement, campaigners on the side of the movement who are motivated, many times, by hate and anti-Semitism, and some by ignorance, who believe that violent action against Israel is the right thing to do, how can we not stand up and say this is wrong and the House does not agree with it, that we are opposed to it. It is very simple: we stand on principle.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun.

Today we are debating a motion that the House reject the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement which, according to the text of the motion, promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.

I would like to begin my remarks today by pointing out to all my hon. colleagues that the motion leaves out the all important third “D”, that notorious double standard applied to Israel.

I believe the Prime Minister said it best:

I'm opposed to the BDS movement. I think that it's an example of the new form of anti-Semitism in the world...an example of the three "Ds": demonization of Israel, delegitimization of Israel, and a double standard applied toward Israel.

I am proud of our Prime Minister's position. As we have seen throughout human history, when we let intolerance fester and grow, it inevitably leads to tragedy. BDS is about intolerance. It is a broader movement to demonize and delegitimize Israel and 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.

We do not need to look very far to see examples of this excessive focus on Israel. We see it every year at the United Nations, where the agendas of the Human Rights Council and General Assembly are clogged with one-sided resolutions that condemn only Israel in the most heinous terms, deflecting attention away from the world's most prolific human rights abusers.

I am proud that Canada voted against the annual anti-Israel resolutions at the UN General Assembly this past November, continuing the principled approach initiated by Prime Minister Martin that persisted under the previous government.

I would like to draw the attention of my hon. colleagues in the House to the Ottawa Protocol on Combatting Anti-Semitism, which is instructive in identifying the anti-Semitism that is so pervasive within the BDS movement. Denying the Jewish people their 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 comparisons 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.

The anti-Semitism that is so pervasive within the BDS movement involves discrimination against and denial of Jewish national self-determination and the right of the Jewish state to exist as an equal member of the family of nations, a universally recognized principle enshrined in the UN charter.

It is no surprise that many BDS activists and leaders oppose the two-state solution and acknowledge that their true objective is the destruction of Israel.

Let me be clear, criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is wrong. If criticism of Israel is similar to that levelled against any other country, then it cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. However, singling Israel out for selective condemnation, let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction, is discriminatory and hateful, and I encourage all of my hon. colleagues to rise in the House and affirm that fundamental fact.

No one is claiming that Israel should be above the law. The issue is not that universal human rights standards should not be applied to Israel; they should be applied equitably to the same extent they are applied right here in Canada. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The cause of human rights, for which Canadians care so deeply, is being hijacked and abused, with Israel being denied fair and equal treatment.

The solutions to these issues are not easy. Internationally, we must continue to stand up and denounce this flawed and discriminatory process. Within Canada and as Canadians, we cannot confront hate with hate. We must approach and fight intolerance with civil discourse and education. What the BDS movement attempts to do is to silence dialogue and stifle that education.

The BDS movement referenced today is largely, but not entirely, confined to university campuses across our country. As the Ottawa protocol points out, universities should be encouraged to combat anti-Semitism with the same seriousness they confront other forms of hate. Universities should enforce zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind against anyone in the university community on the basis of race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or political position. Too many times on university campuses, small but vocal groups call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions with hatred and vitriol, espousing exclusion rather than inclusivity on Canadian campuses. If we agree that education and dialogue are the best tools for reducing intolerance, then increasing contact and collaboration among academics is ideal. This dialogue allows for a free exchange of ideas and embraces academic freedom.

However, when groups call for a boycott of Israeli academics, there is a reduction in dialogue and education, and a degradation of discourse and ideas. Rather than increasing understanding and tolerance, it furthers intolerance and xenophobia. The BDS movement's narrow objective of demonization and delegitimization precludes any meaningful conversation. When Jewish students feel unsafe on campus because they are harassed and intimidated, and when non-student instigators are sent to campuses to create this environment of intolerance, we cannot be silent.

As a Jew and a father of two teenagers, I am greatly concerned about the actions I see taking place on university and college campuses across the country. The BDS movement has created a toxic atmosphere on campus for many Jewish students. I worry about what lies ahead. Next Monday, for the third time in less than two years, McGill University students are being asked to support a BDS campaign on delegitimizing Israel. This phenomenon is not limited to one campus, but is happening across our country and internationally. I am proud of the students who stand up and oppose these kinds of attacks. In particular, and as a McGill alumnus, I want to recognize the vote-no McGill campaign and the incredible work being done by the students who initiated this effort. I wish them luck on Monday to resoundingly defeat these recurring BDS motions.

Here I would cite the following: “The BDS movement...has no place on Canadian campuses.” Those are not my words; they are the Prime Minister's. He said that last year about the BDS initiative at McGill, a message he reiterated clearly when BDS reared its head again at UBC.

As we have seen in numerous organizations and on campuses across the country, intolerance does not rest. We cannot rest either in confronting it. Silence is not an option. We must do what we are doing today and condemn it. Every time the BDS movement and other types of intolerance raise their head, no matter what form they take, we must stand up and call them what they are: hate.

I pledge to never be silent in the face of such hate, and it is clear that our Prime Minister will not be silent either. I ask for and thank my fellow members for their support of this motion.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

Noon

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, although often in the House there is good deal of cordiality in saying “I appreciate the speech of my colleague”, I really do appreciate the speech of my colleague.

In 1939, Canada had a policy of “none is too many” regarding Jews. The St. Louis was turned away and it is a stain on our history. Those kinds of things happened because people said hateful things and nothing was ever said about that.

I would like to ask the following of my colleague in regard to the broader conversation today and with respect, without any kind of partisanship or any effort to rail against another party, but simply to ask on this issue: when do we start saying no? When does the House begin to say loudly that enough is enough, that this is breeding hatred that we do not want to have in this country and that is damaging our social discourse and is moving us toward a hateful situation that none of us wants to see? When do we begin to say strongly, enough is enough?

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand here and say that our Prime Minister has said enough is enough repeatedly where BDS has been concerned, on Canadian campuses over the last number of years. I know it is something that the House feels strongly about, and I encourage members of the House to vote in support of this motion today.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie said earlier in her speech, we should bear in mind the words of Voltaire, who said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I cannot understand why the Liberal Party, which is the party that gave us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, would attack a civil society movement and attempt to shut it up.

Should we not be encouraging people to express themselves peacefully and freely? How can a Liberal Party member think it is up to Parliament to tell people what they can and cannot think?

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think I can best respond to that by quoting the position of the NDP leader on this issue. When asked where he stands on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the leader of the NDP said, “I think it’s absurd, and I disagree with it. Our focus is achieving real progress in the peace process – lifting countries in this region up, not putting Israel down”. He also stated, “We take decisions together, parties formulate policies together, and to say that you’re personally in favour of boycott, divestment and sanctions for the only democracy in the Middle East is, as far as I’m concerned, grossly unacceptable”.

I share the leader of the NDP's view on this, and I hope that members of his party will support this motion.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 18th, 2016 / 12:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to rise on this motion. I will not be supporting it, but I want to make it very clear that the Green Party and I personally do not support the BDS movement. There is a Green Party in Israel which is consulted with frequently, and its view is that it would prefer that Green parties around the world do not support calls for boycotting Israel. Similarly, Green Party members do call for free speech and respect the right of Canadians to organize as they wish on issues that disturb them.

There is no question that the plight of the Palestinian people is an issue that concerns many Canadians. I do not think that this is tactically an appropriate choice. However, I ask the hon. member—and I think he tried to tread this water carefully in his speech—that we not assume that a campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the state of Israel is based in hate, nor have we assumed that it is anti-Semitic. If the United Church of Canada carries forward such a campaign, it is not anti-Semitic organization; it is not a hate-filled organization.

I put to the hon. member this interesting vote count from the Israeli Knesset. In July 2011, that parliament of Israel voted on a question of whether to condemn calls for boycotts against Israel as a civil wrong. The vote carried, but it was not overwhelming. There were 47 members of the Knesset who voted for it, and 38 members voted against it. The 38 members who voted against it were certainly not hate filled against the State of Israel.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have spent time on campuses over the last decade, working with students to oppose the BDS movement who feel the sense of intimidation, concern, and worry when they are heckled walking into classrooms, yelled at as they try to live their lives on campuses.

The BDS movement is anti-Semitism, and I am proud to stand in the House and condemn it as such.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on this motion today and take the opportunity to share with the House the important economic ties between Canada and Israel.

As we know, the Government of Canada believes the BDS movement to not only be unhelpful but also unjust. Canada is proud of its economic and commercial ties with Israel. For example, members will recall that the Prime Minister directed the Minister of International Trade in her mandate letter to prioritize the implementation of the modernized free trade agreement with Israel.

Canada and Israel share a strong, bilateral, multi-dimensional relationship that includes close political, economic, social and cultural ties. Support for Israel, especially for its right to live in peace and security alongside its neighbours, has been central to Canada's Middle East policy since 1948.

That relationship is still flourishing, as evidenced by co-operation in many areas, such as public safety, defence, trade, and investment, and by official visits on both sides.

We support Israel, but we also support the Palestinian people and their legitimate desire to live in peace, security, and justice. However, in order to achieve this, we need to remain engaged with all parties in the region at all times.

As with any friendship, as in our case with Israel, we will sometimes agree, sometimes disagree, sometimes be critical of each other, but we will remain friends. BDS will not help the Palestinian people achieve their desire for peace, security, and justice.

Therefore, with that general context being given, I will proceed to tell this House some of the more economically oriented aspects of our relationship with Israel.

Canada and Israel want improved bilateral trade and economic relations. Along the same lines, the Canada-Israel Strategic Partnership MOU seeks to strengthen and consolidate bilateral relations in a number of areas, including energy, security, international aid and development, innovation, and promotion of human rights around the world.

In order to meet the objectives set out in the strategic partnership, Canada and Israel signed a joint statement of solidarity and friendship. In addition, both countries signed memoranda of understanding on foreign ministry cooperation and on public diplomacy co-operation and a declaration of intent on enhancing trade promotion.

Various bilateral agreements support Canada’s commercial relations with Israel. These include the Canada-Israel Air Transportation Agreement (2015), a renewed and funded science and technology agreement, the Double Taxation Agreement (1977), and the Canadian Space Agency - Israeli Space Agency MOU for Space Cooperation (March 2005).

The Government of Canada is determined to provide Canadian businesses with the tools they need to succeed and compete in a global marketplace. In today's modern, knowledge-based economy, free trade agreements, or FTAs, need to go beyond reducing tariffs on goods. A 21st century agreement must take new trade challenges into account. Israel is an important economic partner for Canada within the Middle East and the North African region, with a full range of commercial opportunities, including trade, investment, science and technology, and innovation.

I have taught or lectured in Israel on two occasions, at three different institutions, in the areas of property and intellectual property. Its universities are excellent, its research and technology sector outstanding, and I can attest to the dynamism of the innovation sector in Israel, often called “start-up nation”.

In order to draw on this potential, the modernization of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA, is beneficial for Canadian businesses because it eliminates or reduces tariffs on certain goods. In addition, by eliminating a number of former trade barriers, it will open up new opportunities in the Israeli market for Canadian exporters, for example, in the agricultural and agri-food sectors, as well as the seafood sector.

On July 21, 2015, Canada and Israel announced the conclusion of an expanded and modernized CIFTA adapted to the 21st century, which reduces technical barriers, strengthens co-operation, increases transparency in regulatory matters, and reduces transaction costs for businesses.

Israel offers a wide range of technologies in areas of exports, investment, science and technology, and innovation.

A modernized CIFTA will enable Canadian companies to take greater advantage of these opportunities. This agreement will also support Canadian businesses and investors, deepen trade and investment linkages, and further strengthen Canada’s bilateral relationship with Israel.

This agreement creates new opportunities to further expand on the Canada-Israel economic partnership. This means that Canada and Israel are creating the right conditions for trade in our modern and knowledge-based economies. This modernized CIFTA is truly a 21st century agreement.

Accordingly, the modernized CIFTA includes provisions to address non-tariff barriers in Israel. Building on the strength of the existing Canada-Israel commercial relationship, the modernized CIFTA establishes new mechanisms under which Canada and Israel can co-operate to discuss, prevent, and resolve non-tariff barriers that could have a negative impact on exports.

Canada and Israel will complete their respective domestic processes, with the goal of having the modernized agreement in force as soon as possible, to the benefit of a stronger Canada-Israel economic partnership.

A key element of the commercial relationship is collaboration in science, technology and innovation, or STI. Bilateral STI relations are strong and based on a long history of close collaboration. Currently, a number of Canadian government organizations and some provinces are involved in collaborative research and development with Israel.

Israel has a relatively open investment environment. Foreign investors mostly enjoy equal treatment with nationals, though foreign investment is restricted in some sectors, such as defence, and requires government approval in other sectors, such as banking and insurance. Israel has robust infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, and it benefits from its qualified industrial zone agreements with Jordan and Egypt. Israel is a rich country with advanced technology and developed agricultural and industrial sectors. Canada and Israel have well-established relationships in trade and investment, a market that offers commercial opportunities in a wide range of sectors.

Indeed, international rating agencies rate Israel as investment grade. In addition, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service can provide on-the-ground intelligence and practical advice on the Israeli market to help Canadian businesses make better, more timely, and cost-effective decisions in order to meet their clients' objectives in that market. Similarly, Export Development Canada is a partner of choice for Canadian businesses in Israel.

In short, co-operation between our two governments and our two peoples is extensive. Our governments work closely with each other on matters relating to trade, investment, science, technology, innovation, education, and many others. Numerous initiatives along a wide spectrum of co-operation bring together an increasing number of Canadians and Israelis.

Finally, one of the underlying strengths of the Canada-Israel bilateral relationship lies in the extensive people-to-people ties. There are approximately 20,000 Canadian citizens living in Israel, and many Canadians have family in Israel.

These initiatives are proof positive against BDS. By being engaged with Israel, we will help promote peace, security, and justice for Israel and its neighbours, principally the Palestinians.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP wants lasting peace. We want a Palestinian state that can live peacefully alongside Israel. Therefore, we obviously oppose the BDS movement.

This morning, the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka said that his motion was not about freedom of speech. I do not agree. I think that the last part of the motion specifically seeks to curtail freedom of speech.

Does the member believe that it is the role of Parliament or even the government to tell Canadians what issues they can or cannot debate?

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question.

As a former professor, I firmly believe in the importance of freedom of speech. We must promote freedom of speech in as many places as possible. However, there are sometimes limits to freedom of speech, when it becomes a real threat to others and a means of inciting hatred. When people cross that line, curtailing freedom of speech is sometimes justified.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his speech and I thank him for it. His speech emphasizes that Canada must strengthen its ties with Israel and oppose anything that could turn us away from this friend.

I would like to give him the opportunity to repeat his point of view by asking him what he and the Minister of International Trade are going to do to implement the Canada-Israel free trade agreement as effectively as possible. This agreement is in our best interest because Israel has had such economic success. After all, Israel is the second-largest investor in research and development in the OECD.

We must not miss out on this opportunity. We have to develop the best possible strategy for implementing this agreement in the most effective way possible.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. minister for his question.

Yes, this modernized agreement between Canada and Israel is a priority for the Minister of International Trade. We are going to ratify it as soon as possible. We are working with our Israeli partners on this.

By strengthening our economic ties with Israel, we will take another step toward stabilizing Israel's economy and bringing peace to the region. It is a matter of finding permanent solutions to the challenges facing this region.