Until very recently, Canada’s foreign affairs minister Hon. Chrystia Freeland repeatedly stated that “Canada is a steadfast ally and friend of Israel, and a friend to the Palestinian people”. Two months ago, CTIP wrote the minister asking for clarification on what she meant, exactly, to say that Israel is an “ally” of Canada. We never got an answer, or even an acknowledgement. But as Palestinian casualties began mounting in Gaza, the official wording was quietly changed. No more reference to Israel being an “ally”. Just a “friend”. Did CTIP’s letter prompt this change? Or was it Israel’s behaviour in Gaza? We will never know. But, here is our letter…..
COPY OF LETTER SENT FEBRUARY 12, 2018
Hon. Chrystia Freeland,
Minister of Global Affairs
Government of Canada
RE: Canada and Israel as “allies”
Dear Minister Freeland,
According to a December 19th, 2017 press release from your department, “Canada is a steadfast ally and friend of Israel and friend to the Palestinian people.”
I would like to better understand what is intended or implied by the use of the term “ally” in relation to Israel, and the difference between being an ‘ally and friend” as opposed to merely a “friend”.
The word “ally” is normally used to describe our relations with other nations in specific circumstances, as in “NATO allies” for example.
Used with respect to Israel is the term “ally” simply an expression of “special friendship” but without any actual implications? Or does Canada have some special, legal relationship with Israel that it does not have with other nations?
- Are Canadas’s military, diplomatic or security relations with Israel subject to any kind of bilateral treaty? If so, are these public? What are these obligations?
- Is Canada bound to support Israel in the event of armed conflict, as we are bound to the “collective defense” of our NATO allies by Article 5 of the NATO agreement, for example?
- Does Canada consider any other countries in the Middle East to be “allies”. (e.g. Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.)?
- If Israel were to invade Lebanon again, as it did in 1982, would we be obliged to offer support?
- Are there any treaties or agreements with Israel that provide for an exchange of Foreign Service Personnel at head office? Could you please provide a list of any Israeli nationals working in exchange programs at GAC, other federal ministries, the Canadian Armed Forces or in your own office? Are any Canadian nationals working in exchange programs in Israeli government ministries or armed forces?
Mme Minister, I understand you will have to ask for information from your officials before answering. I would appreciate acknowledgement of receipt of this letter giving an estimated date for a substantive answer.
I thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
Peter Larson, Chair
Canada Talks Israel Palestine
- Hon Catherine McKenna, MP, Ottawa Centre (my member)
- Mr. Marwan Tabbara, Chair, Canada Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group
- Mr. Alexandre Boulerice, co-chair, Canada Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group
- Mme. Helene Laverdiere, Foreign Affairs critic, NDP
- Ms. Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue. We invite brief comments (under 100 words) from readers. To learn more about what we do, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.