Human rights groups evaluate Green Party leadership candidates on Israel/Palestine question

The Green Party of Canada will choose a new leader to replace longtime leader Elizabeth May on October 4th. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) have analysed each of the nine leadership candidates on Middle East-related issues, awarding Dimitri Lascaris the best score. Lascaris did a webinar on Aug 20, answering questions from activists. Read the report and watch the webinar here.

Elizabeth May assumed the leadership of the Green Party of Canada in 2006 and was elected to Parliament in 2015. For 14 years she has been THE image of the Green Party, taking strong stands not only on environmental issues, but also on human rights – from challenging security legislation to demanding justice for Omar Khader.

She has also been arguably the strongest supporter of human rights for Palestinians in the Canadian House of Commons. She participated in the 2017 trip of Canadian MP’s to visit the West Bank, and her press conference after the trip showed that she was emotionally affected by what she saw.

But to the disappointment of many activists, May remained committed to the idea of a Jewish State. She appears to accept the Zionist thesis that seizing over 78% of historic Palestine for the benefit of Jewish immigrants was justified. Nonetheless, she is extremely critical of some of the actions of that state – especially its 52 year old occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

May’s announcement last November that she was retiring as leader has provoked a soul searching for the Green Party. Will the new leader be as effective a voice as May had been on environmental and human rights issues? And for those especially interested in the issue of human rights for Palestinians, will the new leader be as strong as May had been?

To answer these questions, two human rights organizations – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV-C) sent a questionnaire on key Canadian policy issues related to the Middle East to each candidate. They also analysed candidates’ social media, press statements, published interviews, leadership town halls, and more.

The report assesses the Green Party’s current policies on Israel/Palestine, to be “bold and forward-looking” and notes that none of the candidates expressed views fundamentally contrary to principles of human rights or international law. “Many of the Green Party leadership candidates have expressed courageous positions, from imposing sanctions on Israel to phasing out Canada’s international arms trade,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME, “but Dimitri Lascaris stands out from the rest, due to his extensive public record as a long-time activist for Palestinian human rights.” 

A full copy of the report, including the questionnaire and the candidates responses can be found here.

On August 20, Dimitri Lascaris participated in an hour long Zoom based question and answer session organized by the Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians (APAC) with over 75 human rights activists from across Canada. That Zoom meeting can be found here.


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

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  1. Good ratings! I listened to Dimitri in the Palestinian webinar, and he was both emotive and balanced, unlike some of the charges levelled by Bnai Brith. By the way, Elizabeth was elected MP in 2011, not 2015. Otherwise, great and informative article. It can add to the soul-searching going on in the membership. Paul

  2. Dimitri Lascaris served as a board member of CJPME since 2017, to omit that important fact from that CJPME report that gives Dimitri Lascaris the only A grade is not an honest or balanced practice

    1. Hey Ahik,
      My understanding is that Lascaris resigned from the CJPME board some time ago, though I’m not exactly sure when.
      You are right, however, that it would have been a good idea for that link to have been noted in the CJPME/IJV report, given its finding, to deal with any perception of favourable bias.

      1. Hi Ahik and Peter,

        Lascaris left the CJPME board about a year and a half ago. We agree that this is important context, and we mentioned it twice in the report. As a longtime Palestine solidarity activist Lascaris is known to both CJPME and IJV, but we did our best to assess all of the candidates fairly and accurately. Thank you for reading!

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