“Canadians have an obligation to challenge colonialism in Canada…. and in Israel” – MPP Joel Harden

September 30th is “National Truth and Reconciliation Day” in Canada. OFIP Chair Peter Larson recently talked to Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden about the links he sees between settler colonialism in Canada and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Watch the interview...

The term “settler colonialism” is increasingly accepted in Canada as a way of understanding our past and our current relation to indigenous peoples. It is also increasingly being used to frame the Israel/Palestine conflict.

September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden has been on the leading edge of this trend. It has drawn him both admirers and critics.

“I often wear a “Palestine” button on my coat when I go door to door”, says Joel Harden NDP member of the Ontario legislature for Ottawa Centre.

That sometimes leads to difficult conversations. But, he says “it is part of my obligation as a progressive politician to raise difficult issues and to listen to people who have a different view from mine.”

OFIP Chair Peter Larson interviewed Harden in mid-August about whether being a strong supporter of Palestinian human rights has helped or hurt him electorally. His answer is interesting…


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 Canada’s response to 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.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org


  1. Canada and Israel Palestine are different. Canada requires truth and reconcikiation and certain rights to self government and affirmative actions for indigenous peoples while enjoying full equality within a united pkuralistic Canada. Israel and Palestine require an equal 2,state sokution on the pre 1967 lines with West and East Jerusalem their respective capitals as provided in UN resolutions with equal rights for Jewish and Arab minorities in each state and a complete end to occupation, control discriminatory oppression by Israel and resulting resistance by Palestine and full mutual recognition.and cooperation.

    1. To be fair (or almost fair) the Pre 1948 UN borders along with full opportunity of return for all refugees (1948 and 1967) should be prerequisite for the 2 state.
      Not going to happen with or without the pre-
      Better simply one secular DEMOCRATIC state.

      1. I think the one-state vs two-state debate is partly resolved by noting many of us “two-staters” project a potential one secular democratic state in the more distant future, but there are stages the region must go through to get there. “One-staters” think you can go to one state directly from the current situation. We should evaluate which is more feasible.

      2. Hey Robin,
        don’t you think the Israelis have already thought of that? It is unlikely the Israelis will adopt a 2 state solution (why would they?) but evn if they did, one of the conditions would be that all other demands – including equality for Palestinians inside Israel and the right of return for refugees be dropped.

  2. Peter, you are an exceptionally good interviewer, definitely when you are interviewing someone interesting and enthusiastic like MPP Harden and even when you are interviewing a boring conspiracy theorist line the previous guy Gowan

    I disagree with MPP Harden on many issues, Israel is not the greatest source of violence in the Middle East, the Shia-Sunni rift is more than ten times older and had been a hundred time more bloody during the recent 100 years

    And as for the Bund, once the biggest and most influential Jewish political body , it had been insignificant since WWII, largely because it was on the wrong side of history

    Lots of health الله يعافيك שתהיה בריא

  3. When talking about so-called settler colonialism the differences can be greater than similarities if comparing Canada and Israel/Palestine. Canadians are distant descendants of settlers, born here, and not “settlers” themselves. They have nowhere to go. Indigenous in Canada are <5% of the population. Indigenous in Palestine-Israel are half the total population. The occupation and displacement are imposed against contemporaries in conflict with UNSC/UNGA resolutions. All peoples are migrants or descending from them. We might want to start looking more at shared and common, rather than tribal territory, or settler-indigenous distinctions, treaties notwithstanding.

    1. Mr. Sigman, thank you. Which of the following formulations would you find more accurate?
      The Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is one of the longest military occupations in the world?
      The israeli occupation of Palestine lands is the second longest etc. etc?
      The Israeli occupation of Palestine started in 1947/48 with the support of European colonial powers?

  4. Joel Harden is a hell of a guy. One with absolute integrity. He knows the truths about Israel and have the courage to tell it, regardless of consequences. We need more reps like him, to make Canada a more just place.

    When Trudeau shout from every hill that Canada and Israel share same values, no doubt he refers to Canada’s past history of barbaric settler colonialism.

    Re one state vs, two state, there is only one fact for the foreseeable future, none of the above. Israel with the help of the Zionists, Evangelists and western government made sure of that.

    Israel has no incentive whatsoever to make peace with the Palestinians. The way it is, it benefits enormously by continual land theft, theft of resources, water, industries. and sales of billions of dollars of supplies to Palestinians in West Bank, (since the destruction of their economy). Israel by brain washing the world that they are only fighting for their security, which the opposite is true, and all Palestinians are terrorists, can continue the same.

    By keeping the present policies, they receive every year billions of dollars. which goes into enabling more Jewish Taliban in West Bank, developing more sophisticated weapon and surveillance material, which is sold around the world, keeping two million Palestinians separate in Gaza and trying new weapons on them.

    All the above will not happen if there is peace, or will lessen dramatically.
    The West wants Israel to be the only hegemony in the region, therefore they turn a blind eye to the injustices done to millions of defenceless people.

    1. Hey Jake, I agree with with most of what you say.
      But, I actually think the Israelis DO want peace.
      As in “Peace and quiet. We are taking your land, so shut up”.
      Israelis want peace without justice.

      1. “Only 40% of Israelis support a two-state resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians, even though it remains the most popular choice, according to a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute.” Support for 2SS peaked at 70% in 1970. That’s not great, but alternatives to 2SS are even less supported. Most popular may be the status quo. https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/with-only-40-percent-support-israelis-still-think-2-states-best-option-poll-675838

      2. Hey Robin, If you are serious about this, I suggest you dig a little deeper. Its not clear what those surveys actually reflect. If 40% of Israelis support a 2SS, why do all but about 10% of them vote for right wing parties? And why don’t they do/say anything when Israel knocks down more Palestinian buildings, sets up new settlements, etc. etc. They can say they are for a 2ss, but really????
        And in any event what do they mean by a 2SS? Most of the Israeli propositions envisaged a “state” that is really more of an indian reserve than a state.

  5. All good questions that deserve good answers based on solid data. My guess is that while the percentages may not be precise, the ratios are more than likely true, ie 2SS vs 1SS. In any case, this certainly doesn’t give greater strength to the popularity of a 1SS — my primary point. The 2SS that counts is the one defined by UN resolutions. The fact that support has dropped from 70 to 40% is not a good sign in any case; it means that many Israelis have dug their heels in, probably in support of the status quo.

  6. However true that level of support is, it is likely proportionately higher than a 1SS, which is my primary point. The 70 to 40% decline suggested by polling will not be a good omen for both 1S and 2S advocates. And what does Israeli support for 1S look like … would be my question.

  7. None of the Israeli governments since 1948 – including Ishak Rabin – wanted to have 2 independent states in the territory between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea that was the British mandate of Palestine. Under Ishak Rabin who was assassinated for allowing Arafat to settle and ‘rule’ the Occupied Territories, the number of illegal settlers in the Occcupied Territories DOUBLED. Arafat had to agree that highways for ISRAELI JEWS ONLY be built between Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and Israel, etc.. etc..The ‘2 State Solution’ was simply a clever diplomatic excuse to gradually take over the whole of the Occupied Territories..

    Joseph Debanné

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