OFIP asks three questions to Hon. Mme. Melanie Jolie about the uneven international application of Canadian human rights policy

Foreign Affairs minister Melanie Joly recently talked tough on the issue of human rights in Iran. “Canada will hold Iran accountable for its crimes,” she said. Prime Minister Trudeau went even further announcing that Canada would “impose sanctions on those responsible”. In an open letter, OFIP asks the foreign minister if Canada applies the same policy across the board. Read the letter….

Hon Minister Melanie Joly,

Minister of Foreign Affairs


Dear Hon. Ms. Joly,

Your September 23 statement in support of human rights in Iran, and in particular the rights of Iranian women was very strong.

“Canada strongly condemns the reprehensible detention and killing of Mahsa Amini. (…) We further condemn the violent crackdowns on civilians, which have caused additional deaths and injuries, in blatant violation of their human rights. (…) Women’s rights are human rights.”

In a subsequent news report, you are also quoted as saying “Canada will hold Iran accountable for its crimes.” (emphasis added).

Prime Minister Trudeau went even further announcing that Canada would “impose sanctions on those responsible”.

It is laudable that Canada defends the rights of women here in Canada and around the world.

As Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine, I would like to inquire about whether you plan to similarly hold Israel to account for its widely known and well documented disregard for human rights.

As you know,

  • It has now been established that a female Palestinian American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered by Israeli soldiers on May 11th. (Even Israel agrees that its soldiers killed her).
  • On August 18th, Israeli forces attacked and closed down 6 Palestinian human rights organizations in the Occupied Palestinian territory, alleging “terrorist” links. The allegations were rejected by European donor nations.
  • Those acts followed in the wake of several damning reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem, and the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories, all of whom concluded that Israel is in massive violation of the human rights of Palestinians.

To the best of my knowledge neither you nor your government have made any public criticism of Israel over the murder of Shareen Abu Akeh, on the reports alleging Israeli apartheid, or on the attacks on important Palestinian human rights organizations.

It appears that your government is prepared to defend human rights in some countries (e.g. China, Iran, Venezuela) while ignoring violations of human rights in some other countries (including Israel). It has also been quick to denounce violations of human rights by some Palestinian organizations including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

As an organization interested in human rights for all in Israel/Palestine, OFIP would like to ask you three questions:

 1. ARE YOU PLANNING TO COMMENT on the highly publicized reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem and the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights alleging the crime of apartheid.  If you agree with the substance of the reports, WHAT ACTION WOULD YOU TAKE?

2.  DO YOU ACCEPT THE ASSESSMENT made by many of our European allies that the Israeli allegations of terrorist links of those Palestinian human rights organizations are without foundation? If so, WHAT ACTION WOULD YOU PROPOSE TO TAKE??

3. Finally, given that your Government has acknowledged the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, HAVE YOU CONSIDERED REFERRING THE CASE to the International Criminal Court? If the ICC determines that Israel has committed crimes against humanity, will the government of Canada propose IMPOSING SANCTIONS ON THOSE ISRAELIS responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, as it claims it will do for the Iranians?

Madame Joly, Canada’s international reputation as a defender of human rights is undermined if that policy is applied selectively – only in the case of countries where we have strong differences and ignored in the case of countries your government considers as allies.

I look forward to a response to the three questions.

Thank you in advance.

Peter Larson, Ph.D.

Chair, Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine


cel/whatsApp: 613 327 0331

cc. Salma Zahid, MP, Chair Canada Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group

Heather MacPherson, MP

Yasir Naqvi, MP Ottawa Centre


  1. We need a thousand such letters; we also need a government capable of actually thinking about the issues that you raise and I see none on the horizon. None of the opposition parties would be open to what you suggest. We also need to get those letters to voters. The main media will not cooperate.

  2. What a stupid comment by Mr. Larson. He condemns violence against Palestinians by Israel, but doesn’t say a word about the daily murders committed byPalestinians against Israelis and Jews. He has never to my knowledge ever made such condemnations. And he continues to claim that his organization is non partisan and non prejudicial. What a crock.

    1. Hello Mr. Ehrenworth,
      I think you have missed the point of the article. I was not criticizing Israel. Others have done that (Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem, International Criminal Court, and a host of others…..) I don’t need to do that.

      I was pointing the finger at the Canadian government which has so far ignored all those reports, and all but ignored the murder of the Palestinian journalist, and ignored the shutting down of those six human rights organizations, while at the same time making a big deal of Canada’s support for human rights internationally.

      Thanks for helping me clarify this.

      1. You didn’t clarify anything. Again, You have never to my knowledge condemned the daily murders by Palestinian and Palestinian terrorists of Jews and innocent Palestinians who are accused of cooperating with Jews and Israelis. You have never commented on the rise of anti semitism in Canada and around the world.You are a hypocrite Mr. Larson and always have been. And you are biased in your one sidedness and always have been.

      2. Hello Mr. Ehrenworth, don’t attack me. I’m just the messenger.

        Instead, you should attack Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem, the UN, etc. etc. They are the ones talking about the ongoing massacre of Palestinians by Israel.
        According to the UN office of Coordination of Humanitarian affairs, more than TEN TIMES as many Palestinians have been killed so far in 2022 as Israelis. https://www.ochaopt.org/data/casualties
        All I do is bring to light the findings of these independent, and highly credible organizations.

  3. bonjour monsieur Larson,*Your letter to Hon.Mme.Mélanie Jolie is excellent, as usual – Am waiting for her reply . ?Raymond HurtubiseOttawa 

  4. Great letter Peter! I’m anxious to see if you receive a reply. Regards, Marina

    Marina Kun
    Kun Shoulder Rest
    It started at a workbench; the rest is history.

  5. Dear Peter, thank you for your comments and well asked questions. Unfortunately Trudeau portray himself as a the champion of human rights everywhere, except of Israel. He will not utter a negative word against Israel, which is baffling. Therefore the ministers are willingly or otherwise, are toeing the line. It is the only, so called progressive country, that I’m aware off, which will not even pay a lip service to the injustices taking place in Palestine. Even surpasses U.S.

  6. Hi Peter . I concur with those comments that it is a great letter with great questions. Let’s hope that the Minister replies.

  7. As a Canadian, I fully support this letter and I hope there will be some answers from the government.
    The hypocritic and selective approach of many western governments when it comes to human rights has undermined the confidence of millions of people around the globe in the international law and order.

  8. Dear Peter. This is a sorely needed letter. Our government is quite hypocritical in its foreign policy. Its statements and positions are predicated on its junior partner relationship to the American colossus. So glad that you have called the Liberal government out with such clarity and dignity. I write this as a Jewish Canadian member of Independent Jewish Voices.

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