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Canada’s Largest Union Rejects BDS

CUPE’s 2017 Convention (CUPE)

Nov. 26, 2021

TORONTO — B’nai Brith Canada applauds members of Canada’s largest labour union for voting against the antisemitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents 700,000 workers from coast to coast, is holding its National Convention online this week and voted on BDS yesterday.

Anti-Israel forces were pushing hard to turn CUPE against the Jewish State. In fact, the “International Solidarity Committees” of CUPE Ontario and CUPE BC – the largest and third-largest CUPE sections – officially endorsed the BDS resolution, and held a webinar promoting it on the sidelines of the Convention. CUPE Ontario itself endorsed BDS back in 2006.

Aside from the “International Solidarity Committees,” the BDS resolution was pushed by CUPE 3903, which represents teaching assistants at York University, and CUPE 3902, the which represents teaching assistants at the University of Toronto. CUPE 3902’s membership largely overlaps with that of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU), which has been found by a student panel to engage in prohibited anti-Israeli discrimination.

Nonetheless, delegates to CUPE’s National Convention resisted the wave of anti-Israel and often antisemitic sentiment that has followed the May 2021 conflict between Israel and the Hamas terror group, and voted down the BDS resolution on Thursday.

“CUPE members should be praised for standing up to the lies and intimidation of the BDS movement,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The passage of this motion would have inflicted great harm not only on Jewish and Israeli members of CUPE, but on all workers who benefit from trade between Canada and Israel.”

“CUPE has heeded the wise words of Tommy Douglas, Canada’s greatest labour icon: ‘The main enmity against Israel is that she has been an affront to those nations who do not treat their people and their workers as well as Israel has treated hers.’”

In June, anti-Israel groups claimed that the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), an umbrella group including CUPE and other large Canadian unions, had adopted a resolution supporting BDS. However, the resolution was seemingly not passed in a manner consistent with the CLC constitution. The CLC never posted the resolution to its website and declined to answer queries from B’nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Jewish News as to how it was purportedly adopted.