MPP’s Tim Hudak and Mike Colle teamed up with Avi Benlolo of the Simon Wiesenthal centre to introduce a motion in the Ontario legislature opposing the movement to boycott Israel known as BDS. But the name of the bill is misleading and the explanation for the bill lacks veracity. Read more
Two Ontario legislators (Conservative Tim Hudak and Liberal Mike Colle), have introduced an anti-BDS bill in the Ontario legislature. It quickly passed through first reading on Tuesday, May 17th without debate or fanfare.
In what appears to be a coordinated move, an op ed entitled “Fighting Anti-Semitism in Ontario” co-signed by both MPP’s along with Avi Benlolo of the pro-Israel Simon Wiesenthal Centre appeared in the National Post on the very next day.
Labelled “Standing up Against Anti-Semitism Act”, the bill takes a slightly different tack than the anti-BDS motion introduced by Conservatives in Ottawa in February. The Ottawa motion “condemned” those who support BDS but didn’t have any “teeth”.
The Ontario bill does have teeth.
“The Act provides that no public body may contract with any person or entity that supports or participates in the BDS movement. If a contractor does support or participate in the BDS movement, the contract will be terminated… Public pension funds and foundations of colleges and universities are prohibited from investing in any entity that supports or participates in the BDS movement.”
– Standing up against anti-Semitism act
The motion would apply to any Ontario institutions including universities which allow BDS activities on campus.
The motion is scheduled for second reading this week. The movers appear to be a hurry, perhaps hoping to pass it while Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is still in Israel.
Where the NDP will stand on it is not clear either.
A flawed argument
But there is a dangerous flaw in the Hudak/Colle motion. BDS is not in the least anti-Semitic. In fact, a quick check of the official BDS website (www.bdsmovement.net) makes that very clear. As a result, the title of the bill is misleading, and the explanation along with the bill is completely untruthful.
“The BDS movement is defined as the political movement whose primary purpose is to boycott, divest from and apply sanctions against Israel and various persons, corporations, businesses and cultural institutions that are Israeli, owned by Jewish Canadians or affiliated with Jewish Canadians or with Israel.”
– Standing up against anti-Semitism act
This is a total fiction. There is nothing in any of the official BDS literature that targets Jewish Canadians. It is entirely focused on a peaceful approach aimed at forcing Israel to live up to its international obligations with respect to the Palestinians.
I have written an open letter to Mr. Hudak and Mr. Colle pointing this out and warning them of the potential consequences. It is reprinted below.
May 18, 2016
Dear Mr. Hudak and Mr. Colle,
I am writing about Bill 202, “Standing up against anti-Semitism Act”, which you recently introduced into the Ontario legislature.
As you are both experienced parliamentarians, I am sure you know that misleading the parliament is considered a very grave offence which carries severe penalties.
Both the title of the bill and the language used to describe it are highly misleading. I am strongly opposed to anti-Semitism, but your characterisation of the BDS movement as anti-Semitic does not match the evidence.
In particular, the “explanation” included in the bill attributes without any proof an “anti-Semitic” motive to the BDS movement. Furthermore, it claims that the BDS movement targets Jewish Canadians or business owned by Jewish Canadians. I invite you to produce a shred of evidence to justify this statement. On the contrary, a quick reference to the official BDS website which can be found at www.bdsmovement.net makes it clear that the BDS movement opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
In fact, the BDS movement is a peaceful and non violent approach to force Israel to live up to its obligations under international law. It has 3 specific demands, none of which involve expelling Jews, or calling for anything but respect for existing international legislation.
If you would like to know more about the BDS movement, I refer you to an excellent, factual Globe and Mail article written by Patrick Martin on February 23rd. He explains that all 3 of the BDS demands are consistent with official Canadian policy. CBC commentator Neil Macdonald also pointed out that the BDS peaceful approach is an alternative to violent conflict.
Mr. Hudak and Mr. Colle, it is not clear to me whether your erroneous and misleading allegations result from ignorance or dishonesty. I assume the former. As we both know, misleading the Parliament is a serious offence not only to public morality but to the institution of Parliament itself.
cc. Hon. Yasir Naqvi, MPP Ottawa Centre