where the parties stand

Where the Major Political Parties Stand

In preparation for this year’s election, B’nai Brith Canada posed questions to the four major national political parties. We asked the parties for their detailed views on issues affecting members of the Canadian Jewish community. 

Following are the parties’ responses, including what they have told us directly and statements made publicly or conveyed through their websites. Our objective is to assist voters as the Sept. 20 Election Day approaches.

We ask readers to reflect carefully the party responses in this summary.

 

The Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal Party’s published platform, in a section entitled ‘A Stronger Canada,’ includes commitments to combating hate and antisemitism. The Liberal Party underscores key achievements in recent years, including appointing Canada’s first Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, The Honourable Irwin Cotler, and convening Canada’s first National Summit on Antisemitism.

In recent months, Party leader Justin Trudeau has called out the unacceptable nature of rising antisemitic acts in Canada. At the National Summit on Antisemitism, Mr. Trudeau, as Prime Minister, emphasized that “antisemitism isn’t a problem for the Jewish community to solve alone – it’s everyone’s challenge.”

The Liberal Party states that, in order to tackle antisemitism and hate, it is necessary to acknowledge its existence and directly identify it. The party points to the June 2019 adoption by the Liberal-led government of the definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The party commits to strengthening efforts to adopt and implement the IHRA Definition across Canada.

Mr. Trudeau has spoken out against the boycott, divestment & sanctions (BDS) movement. At a Jan. 15, 2019 town-hall meeting at Brock University, he said a Liberal government “will continue to condemn the BDS movement… when you have students on campus dealing with things like Israel apartheid weeks that make them [Jewish students] fearful of actually attending campus events because of their religion in Canada, we have to recognize that there are things that aren’t acceptable, not because of foreign policy concerns, but because of Canadian values.” This position was reiterated at the National Summit on Antisemitism.

The Liberal Party acknowledges that, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the level and intensity of online hate has sharply increased and that the Jewish community knows all too well how social media can amplify that hate. The party states that a re-elected Liberal government will be committed to pursuing previous legislative efforts to combat serious forms of harmful content online, specifically hate speech, terrorist content, and content that incites violence, ensuring that social media platforms are held accountable.

Since 2015, the Liberal Party notes that the Government has quadrupled funding for the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) to enhance security in places like synagogues, schools and community centres, and improve protections for communities at-risk of hate motivated violence, such as the Jewish community. The party commits to ensuring the SIP responds to the Jewish community’s needs and understands that Jewish Canadians facing hate crimes require support. To this end, a re-elected Liberal government pledges to establish a National Support Fund for Survivors of Hate-Motivated Crimes to help survivors with costs they are forced to bear such as medical care and services.

Mr. Trudeau has said that “good intentions are not enough” when confronting antisemitism. The Liberal Party platform commits to developing by 2022, together with the Jewish community and other vulnerable communities, a National Action Plan on Combating Hate, as part of a renewed federal Anti-Racism Strategy. The party also commits to ensuring that the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism has the resources necessary to fulfill the position’s mandate.

On relations with Israel, the Liberal Party focuses on Canada’s deepening diplomatic ties to Israel, supporting the peace process and building lasting economic bonds. This also means “standing against the delegitimization of Israel and subjecting Israel to double standards, in particular in international fora.”

The Liberal Party refers to strong cooperation between Canada and Israel through the modernized and updated Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement of Sept. 2019. It points to the focus on science and research, including a recent tripling of Canada’s contribution to the bilateral agreement in industrial research and development.

The Liberal Party says it would “stand firm in its support for Israel’s right to live in peace and security with its neighbours within secure boundaries, and for Israel’s right to defend itself.” It condemns indiscriminate Hamas rocket attacks.

On the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Liberal Party says it would remain committed to supporting progress towards a two-state solution and would continue to oppose unilateral actions that jeopardize the prospects for peace.

On Iran, the Liberal Party platform states that a re-elected Liberal government would continue to work with international partners to hold Iran accountable for the downing of Flight PS752 and would continue to provide support to the families and loved ones of victims in their fight for justice and reparations.

 

The Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada states it stands with the Jewish community in the face of disgusting acts of antisemitism and hate that are on the rise in this country. It adds that antisemitism has no place in Canada and encourages Canadians to stand against it.

The Conservative Party says it they has a detailed plan to combat online hate speech and antisemitism, and that it will always oppose the dissemination of hate speech and speech that incites violence. The party believes this can best be done through the Criminal Code and Canada’s criminal justice system, including by creating a stronger legal requirement for social media platforms to remove illegal hate-motivated content.

With respect to protecting synagogues, it is noted that the previous Conservative government launched the SIP to assist to communities that have a history of being victimized by hate-motivated crime. The party says an Erin O’Toole government will double-fund the SIP, simplify the application process to expand eligibility, and allow funding to be used for a broader list of expenses, such as paying security guards and training volunteers.

The Conservative Party says the fight for religious freedom will be a crucial part of its foreign policy, that freedom of worship is a pillar of our democracy and a natural extension of Canadian values. The party believes the federal government should place a specific focus on religious freedom in its human-rights agenda, which is why would reopen the Office of Religious Freedom.

The Conservatives believe that combating antisemitism abroad is within the mandate and responsibility of all of Canada’s diplomats and foreign affairs officials. As Prime Minister, Mr. O’Toole would expect and demand regular updates on Canada’s efforts to address hatred and discrimination against religious minorities throughout the world. The Conservative Party supports action on the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief’s report on antisemitism of 2019.

The Conservative Party says it would build on the adoption of the IHRA Definition of antisemitism to increase efforts on educating Canadians and to combat antisemitism. The party also says it recognizes the BDS movement as antisemitic. The party says it is committed to ensuring that its government would not fund the activities of any group or institution that supports the BDS movement.

The Conservative Party platform, in a section entitled A Detailed Plan to Promote Canada’s Interests and Values notes that significant change has occurred across the Middle East region, with nations discovering common cause in peace and prosperity through regional normalization such as the Abraham Accords.

The platform stresses that the Conservative Party would always support Israel’s existence as a sovereign democratic Jewish state with the right to self-determination and the right to live in peace and security.

To strengthen bilateral relations and support Israel in the region, Conservative Party says it would: (a) set clear objectives to enhance economic, political, and security cooperation to benefit both countries; b) recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the Canadian embassy to Jerusalem; (c) return Canada to its longstanding policy of not singling out Israel for criticism at the United Nations and international fora; and (d) combat the delegitimization of Israel, including opposing the denial of the 5,000 years of indigenous Jewish history throughout the Middle East.

The Conservative Party platform says it will boycott the United Nations Durban IV conference in September and oppose the International Criminal Court’s politicization and intrusion into bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The Conservative Party says it would prioritize Canadian interests and values at the United Nations and would take action to stop the UN Human Rights Council from unjustly and constantly singling out Israel for criticism. It would speak out against UNESCO resolutions that have sought to deny the Jewish people’s historic ties to key sites.

It would promote and support regional initiatives that foster peace between Israel and its neighbours while supporting the aspirations of the Palestinian people through a two-state solution.

On Iran, the Conservative Party says it would: (a) hold the Iranian regime accountable for its reckless nuclear ambitions, malevolent state support of international terrorism, and human rights violations; (b) impose Magnitsky sanctions on gross human-rights violators; (c) fulfill the motion adopted by Parliament and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity; (d) engage with Iranians promoting women’s rights, human rights, and democracy; and (e) demand justice and compensation for families of victims of downed Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, applying Magnitsky sanctions and pursuing legal avenues against those responsible.

 

The New Democratic Party of Canada

The New Democratic Party noted that the rise in antisemitism in Canada and in other countries is deeply disturbing, that we should all be united in condemning this hatred and take meaningful steps to ensure we put a stop to it. The NDP says it wholeheartedly accepts the need for a national plan to combat antisemitism – that we have to be unequivocal in our condemnation of this bigotry, that it has no place in Canada, and we must all work together to put an end to it.

The NDP says it supports the need for a dedicated mechanism to follow up on the July 2021, National Summit on Antisemitism’s discussions and to measure progress on an ongoing basis. It supports providing dedicated resources to Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.

The NDP acknowledged that new forms of antisemitism are distinct from the traditional antisemitism to which Canadians are more accustomed.

It says the federal government should engage Canada’s universities and colleges in a concerted effort to confront antisemitism, and the party is committed to confronting and tackling antisemitism wherever it exists, including on Canadian campuses.

The NDP says it would convene a national working group to counter online hate and protect public safety and make sure that social media platforms are legally responsible for the removal of hateful and extremist content before it can do harm. The party would also begin work immediately to ensure that all major cities have dedicated hate crime units within local police forces.

The NDP said it considers antisemitism as a form of racism, similar to how it views racism against Black people, Indigenous Canadians and other racialized communities.

The NDP also told us that it endorses the requirement for public service training specifically devoted to confronting antisemitism. The party says it is committed to confronting white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, starting with a national action plan to dismantle far-right extremist organizations. The NDP would also convene a national working group to counter online hate and protect public safety, and make sure that social media platforms are legally responsible for the removal of hateful and extremist content before it can do harm.

The NDP believes the government of Canada must have a clear definition of antisemitism but it has some concerns that the IHRA Definition and its associated examples could undermine those who wish to speak out in favour of the human rights of Palestinians.

The NDP says it would work towards a just and lasting two-state solution between Israel and Palestine through a negotiations. The party also said it believes “Canada must speak out against human rights abuses and violations of international law, including the illegal occupation of [the] West Bank.”

On removing a standing item from the UN Human Rights Commission agenda seen as unfairly targeting Israel, the NDP said: “We believe Canada must join efforts in the UN system to speak out against violators of human rights in all countries. All UN member states must be transparent and fully respect their international human rights obligations.”

On removing a standing item from the World Health Assembly agenda seen as unfairly targeting Israel, the NDP said: “There are many health challenges in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem and Gaza. Canada must step up efforts to address these challenges, some of which are related [to] the Israeli occupation.”

The NDP agreed that, under federal lead, Canada’s provinces and territories should develop and implement a common, mandatory education curriculum to increase understanding of the Holocaust, antisemitism and genocide.

The party said it does not endorse or support the BDS movement. “We recognize that Canadians have the right to freedom of expression and to support non-violent movements for the respect of international law,” the party said, adding that “BDS cannot replace good faith efforts to negotiate a sustainable and just solution to the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Conversely, when asked whether the NDP supports past parliamentary motions condemning BDS, we were told: “No. We believe these motions undermine the freedom of expression of Canadians, and the choice to support non-violent movements for the respect of international law.”

The NDP said it would not withhold government assistance resources from organizations or academic institutions that advocate for, or support, BDS, adding that it believes this would undermine freedom of expression in Canada.

The NDP said it believes that Canada has an important diplomatic role to play in bringing Iran back into the mainstream international community, and that the party stands with the people of Iran in their aspirations for freedom, peace, democracy and the rule of a just law.

The NDP said it unequivocally condemns the threatening statements and actions of Iran against its neighbours, particularly Israel, and it condemns the human-rights violations that continue to be perpetrated by its government.

On designating the entirety of the IRGC as a terrorist entity, the NDP responded: “We strongly condemn any financial, logistical or any other support given by the Iranian government for terrorist groups, whether in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere. The list of terrorist entities is updated based on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety, who is supposed to make such decisions based on comprehensive criminal and security intelligence reports. New Democrats would not want to politicize this process.”

The NDP supports the Iran Nuclear Agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. It would support using Canada’s Magnitsky Act sanctions against Iran’s human-rights offenders.

The NDP accepts the need for a close bilateral relationship with Israel, as set out in the existing Canada-Israel Strategic Partnership Memorandum of Understanding, but said it has concerns about the negative impacts of the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement on the path towards peace between Israel and Palestine.

The NDP does not support Canada’s recognition of an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a move of the Canadian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, saying it believes this would be detrimental to international law and peace, as East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory.

At its 2021 annual conference, the NDP passed a resolution calling for the suspension of Canadian arms sales to Israel. This resolution is featured in the party platform in these words: “Recognizing that both Palestinians and Israelis have the right to live in safety and security, we will work towards a just and lasting two-state solution between Israel and Palestine that respects human rights and upholds international law. Canada must play an active and constructive role in advancing peace, beginning by suspending arms sales to Israel until the end of the illegal occupation.”

 

 

The Green Party of Canada

The Green Party of Canada platform — Be  Daring — does not address Middle East issues in a direct way. Instead, it focuses on principles that would apply to international conflict situations. The platform does contain a commitment to “tackling identity-based hate and ensuring that the creation of a just society is at the centre of all decision-making.”

The commitment includes a reference to antisemitism in saying “it is the duty of our governments to identify, expose and root out supremacist movements, to ensure that those who promote and disseminate such ideologies know there will be no safe place or dark corners where their beliefs will be allowed to flourish.”

The Green Party says it is committed to building and keeping global peace, including post-conflict work to strengthen civil society and democratic institutions around the world. The party says it is aware of the dangers of militarism and the need to defend against it, one reason why it supports the United Nations doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect.’

On Middle East issues, the Green Party’s stated position reflects only one point: that Canada should cancel contracts to provide Saudi Arabia with armoured vehicles and ban the importation of Saudi oil.

In Oct. 2020, the Green Party elected Annamie Paul as leader, the first Jewish and Black woman to serve as a national party leader. 

The party’s position on issues touching the Middle East, since Ms. Paul’s election, is best summed up in a May 10, 2021 statement:

“The Green Party of Canada is committed to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This requires steps to end the violence in favour of engagement in peaceful, inclusive dialogue as the preferred means of resolving the current situation and of achieving sustainable peace.”

In a subsequent May 16, 2021 statement, the Green Party said it was alarmed by the escalating violence throughout Israel and Gaza and the mounting loss of life. It called for a victim-centre approach focused on the protection of civilians as the highest immediate priority. The Green Party said it “condemns the indiscriminate and deadly missile and rocket attacks on civilian areas.

In Sept. 2019, the Green Party said it has zero tolerance for sexism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia or hate speech of any kind.

The Green Party told us it is committed to working with affected communities, and the many strong civil society organizations that serve them, on a national plan to combat antisemitism at home and abroad.

In response to our questions, the Green Party said that a fresh federal strategy to deal with the dissemination of hate speech and hate crimes on the internet and social media is needed, and that the Green Party believes it is time that social media giants, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are held to account and that Canadian standards for illegal content removal are set, as has already been done in the European Union.

We were also told that the Green Party believes public education is an essential part of the solution to ensure that the sobering history of human rights violations that have been perpetrated against minority groups, and the lessons they provide, will not be forgotten. The Green Party said at the time of the last federal election, that it will call for mandatory curricular inclusion of materials to this effect, with particular importance paid to the atrocities committed against the Jewish people during World War II — a necessity given the frightening rise of modern Holocaust denial.

The Green Party also told us that increased hate has not been confined to the digital world. Verbal and physical threats to members of minority communities, particularly those who gather at religious institutions, including schools and other cultural centres, are also on the rise. Synagogues finding that they must spend large portions of their budgets on physical security is unacceptable. The Green Party said then that it believes that a national plan to combat antisemitism, hate crimes and hate speech must also include the following:

  • Development of training resources and guidelines for law enforcement agencies to help them understand the unique security concerns faced by religious communities;
  • A commitment to working with those communities to develop appropriate security and response plans, to both prevent offences and ensure victims receive the support they need;
  • Improvements to offence definitions and the statistical tracking of offences, both criminal and non-criminal; and,
  • Increased funding, delivered through Public Safety Canada, to ease the increased financial costs being borne by religious institutions.

The Green Party believed at the time of the last election that Canada has an important role to play in combating antisemitism, hate crimes and hate speech and protecting religious minority communities abroad. The Green Party told us it is committed to speaking out vigorously and utilizing Canada’s diplomatic influence to condemn hate offences and other human rights violations in the strongest of terms on the international stage, that Canada must be a lead advocate for the rights of refugees and persecuted minorities.

The Green Party said that it believes that legislative tools, such as the Immigration Act and Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (“Magnitsky Act”), should be leveraged to hold foreign actors accountable. Notorious offenders, such as the Iranian Government and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, must face sanctions. However, it said diplomatic ties should also be maintained, as further isolation of bad actors serves only to increase polarization and harm innocent individuals within their borders.

The Green Party said prior to the last election that the international community holds a responsibility to pressure actors to work towards peaceful solutions in cases of conflict, and that it supports individual citizens’ rights to engage in non-violent protest. While the Green Party did not endorse the formal Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, it said it acknowledges the tactics it entails as legitimate tools of non-violent political expression.

The Green Party told us it is committed to helping restore faith between United Nations’ agencies and Israel, believing that they still have a key role to play in facilitating progress toward a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians that recognizes the deep connection both communities feel towards the land and holy sites.

In preparation for this year’s election, B’nai Brith Canada posed questions to the four major national political parties. We asked the parties for their detailed views on issues affecting members of the Canadian Jewish community. 

Following are the parties’ responses, including what they have told us directly and statements made publicly or conveyed through their websites. Our objective is to assist voters as the Sept. 20 Election Day approaches.

We ask readers to reflect carefully the party responses in this summary.

The Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal Party’s published platform, in a section entitled ‘A Stronger Canada,’ includes commitments to combating hate and antisemitism. The Liberal Party underscores key achievements in recent years, including appointing Canada’s first Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, The Honourable Irwin Cotler, and convening Canada’s first National Summit on Antisemitism.

In recent months, Party leader Justin Trudeau has called out the unacceptable nature of rising antisemitic acts in Canada. At the National Summit on Antisemitism, Mr. Trudeau, as Prime Minister, emphasized that “antisemitism isn’t a problem for the Jewish community to solve alone – it’s everyone’s challenge.”

The Liberal Party states that, in order to tackle antisemitism and hate, it is necessary to acknowledge its existence and directly identify it. The party points to the June 2019 adoption by the Liberal-led government of the definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The party commits to strengthening efforts to adopt and implement the IHRA Definition across Canada.

Mr. Trudeau has spoken out against the boycott, divestment & sanctions (BDS) movement. At a Jan. 15, 2019 town-hall meeting at Brock University, he said a Liberal government “will continue to condemn the BDS movement… when you have students on campus dealing with things like Israel apartheid weeks that make them [Jewish students] fearful of actually attending campus events because of their religion in Canada, we have to recognize that there are things that aren’t acceptable, not because of foreign policy concerns, but because of Canadian values.” This position was reiterated at the National Summit on Antisemitism.

The Liberal Party acknowledges that, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the level and intensity of online hate has sharply increased and that the Jewish community knows all too well how social media can amplify that hate. The party states that a re-elected Liberal government will be committed to pursuing previous legislative efforts to combat serious forms of harmful content online, specifically hate speech, terrorist content, and content that incites violence, ensuring that social media platforms are held accountable.

Since 2015, the Liberal Party notes that the Government has quadrupled funding for the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) to enhance security in places like synagogues, schools and community centres, and improve protections for communities at-risk of hate motivated violence, such as the Jewish community. The party commits to ensuring the SIP responds to the Jewish community’s needs and understands that Jewish Canadians facing hate crimes require support. To this end, a re-elected Liberal government pledges to establish a National Support Fund for Survivors of Hate-Motivated Crimes to help survivors with costs they are forced to bear such as medical care and services.

Mr. Trudeau has said that “good intentions are not enough” when confronting antisemitism. The Liberal Party platform commits to developing by 2022, together with the Jewish community and other vulnerable communities, a National Action Plan on Combating Hate, as part of a renewed federal Anti-Racism Strategy. The party also commits to ensuring that the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism has the resources necessary to fulfill the position’s mandate.

On relations with Israel, the Liberal Party focuses on Canada’s deepening diplomatic ties to Israel, supporting the peace process and building lasting economic bonds. This also means “standing against the delegitimization of Israel and subjecting Israel to double standards, in particular in international fora.”

The Liberal Party refers to strong cooperation between Canada and Israel through the modernized and updated Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement of Sept. 2019. It points to the focus on science and research, including a recent tripling of Canada’s contribution to the bilateral agreement in industrial research and development.

The Liberal Party says it would “stand firm in its support for Israel’s right to live in peace and security with its neighbours within secure boundaries, and for Israel’s right to defend itself.” It condemns indiscriminate Hamas rocket attacks.

On the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Liberal Party says it would remain committed to supporting progress towards a two-state solution and would continue to oppose unilateral actions that jeopardize the prospects for peace.

On Iran, the Liberal Party platform states that a re-elected Liberal government would continue to work with international partners to hold Iran accountable for the downing of Flight PS752 and would continue to provide support to the families and loved ones of victims in their fight for justice and reparations.

 

The Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada states it stands with the Jewish community in the face of disgusting acts of antisemitism and hate that are on the rise in this country. It adds that antisemitism has no place in Canada and encourages Canadians to stand against it.

The Conservative Party says it they has a detailed plan to combat online hate speech and antisemitism, and that it will always oppose the dissemination of hate speech and speech that incites violence. The party believes this can best be done through the Criminal Code and Canada’s criminal justice system, including by creating a stronger legal requirement for social media platforms to remove illegal hate-motivated content.

With respect to protecting synagogues, it is noted that the previous Conservative government launched the SIP to assist to communities that have a history of being victimized by hate-motivated crime. The party says an Erin O’Toole government will double-fund the SIP, simplify the application process to expand eligibility, and allow funding to be used for a broader list of expenses, such as paying security guards and training volunteers.

The Conservative Party says the fight for religious freedom will be a crucial part of its foreign policy, that freedom of worship is a pillar of our democracy and a natural extension of Canadian values. The party believes the federal government should place a specific focus on religious freedom in its human-rights agenda, which is why would reopen the Office of Religious Freedom.

The Conservatives believe that combating antisemitism abroad is within the mandate and responsibility of all of Canada’s diplomats and foreign affairs officials. As Prime Minister, Mr. O’Toole would expect and demand regular updates on Canada’s efforts to address hatred and discrimination against religious minorities throughout the world. The Conservative Party supports action on the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief’s report on antisemitism of 2019.

The Conservative Party says it would build on the adoption of the IHRA Definition of antisemitism to increase efforts on educating Canadians and to combat antisemitism. The party also says it recognizes the BDS movement as antisemitic. The party says it is committed to ensuring that its government would not fund the activities of any group or institution that supports the BDS movement.

The Conservative Party platform, in a section entitled A Detailed Plan to Promote Canada’s Interests and Values notes that significant change has occurred across the Middle East region, with nations discovering common cause in peace and prosperity through regional normalization such as the Abraham Accords.

The platform stresses that the Conservative Party would always support Israel’s existence as a sovereign democratic Jewish state with the right to self-determination and the right to live in peace and security.

To strengthen bilateral relations and support Israel in the region, Conservative Party says it would: (a) set clear objectives to enhance economic, political, and security cooperation to benefit both countries; b) recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the Canadian embassy to Jerusalem; (c) return Canada to its longstanding policy of not singling out Israel for criticism at the United Nations and international fora; and (d) combat the delegitimization of Israel, including opposing the denial of the 5,000 years of indigenous Jewish history throughout the Middle East.

The Conservative Party platform says it will boycott the United Nations Durban IV conference in September and oppose the International Criminal Court’s politicization and intrusion into bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The Conservative Party says it would prioritize Canadian interests and values at the United Nations and would take action to stop the UN Human Rights Council from unjustly and constantly singling out Israel for criticism. It would speak out against UNESCO resolutions that have sought to deny the Jewish people’s historic ties to key sites.

It would promote and support regional initiatives that foster peace between Israel and its neighbours while supporting the aspirations of the Palestinian people through a two-state solution.

On Iran, the Conservative Party says it would: (a) hold the Iranian regime accountable for its reckless nuclear ambitions, malevolent state support of international terrorism, and human rights violations; (b) impose Magnitsky sanctions on gross human-rights violators; (c) fulfill the motion adopted by Parliament and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity; (d) engage with Iranians promoting women’s rights, human rights, and democracy; and (e) demand justice and compensation for families of victims of downed Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, applying Magnitsky sanctions and pursuing legal avenues against those responsible.

 

The New Democratic Party of Canada

The New Democratic Party noted that the rise in antisemitism in Canada and in other countries is deeply disturbing, that we should all be united in condemning this hatred and take meaningful steps to ensure we put a stop to it. The NDP says it wholeheartedly accepts the need for a national plan to combat antisemitism – that we have to be unequivocal in our condemnation of this bigotry, that it has no place in Canada, and we must all work together to put an end to it.

The NDP says it supports the need for a dedicated mechanism to follow up on the July 2021, National Summit on Antisemitism’s discussions and to measure progress on an ongoing basis. It supports providing dedicated resources to Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.

The NDP acknowledged that new forms of antisemitism are distinct from the traditional antisemitism to which Canadians are more accustomed.

It says the federal government should engage Canada’s universities and colleges in a concerted effort to confront antisemitism, and the party is committed to confronting and tackling antisemitism wherever it exists, including on Canadian campuses.

The NDP says it would convene a national working group to counter online hate and protect public safety and make sure that social media platforms are legally responsible for the removal of hateful and extremist content before it can do harm. The party would also begin work immediately to ensure that all major cities have dedicated hate crime units within local police forces.

The NDP said it considers antisemitism as a form of racism, similar to how it views racism against Black people, Indigenous Canadians and other racialized communities.

The NDP also told us that it endorses the requirement for public service training specifically devoted to confronting antisemitism. The party says it is committed to confronting white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, starting with a national action plan to dismantle far-right extremist organizations. The NDP would also convene a national working group to counter online hate and protect public safety, and make sure that social media platforms are legally responsible for the removal of hateful and extremist content before it can do harm.

The NDP believes the government of Canada must have a clear definition of antisemitism but it has some concerns that the IHRA Definition and its associated examples could undermine those who wish to speak out in favour of the human rights of Palestinians.

The NDP says it would work towards a just and lasting two-state solution between Israel and Palestine through a negotiations. The party also said it believes “Canada must speak out against human rights abuses and violations of international law, including the illegal occupation of [the] West Bank.”

On removing a standing item from the UN Human Rights Commission agenda seen as unfairly targeting Israel, the NDP said: “We believe Canada must join efforts in the UN system to speak out against violators of human rights in all countries. All UN member states must be transparent and fully respect their international human rights obligations.”

On removing a standing item from the World Health Assembly agenda seen as unfairly targeting Israel, the NDP said: “There are many health challenges in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem and Gaza. Canada must step up efforts to address these challenges, some of which are related [to] the Israeli occupation.”

The NDP agreed that, under federal lead, Canada’s provinces and territories should develop and implement a common, mandatory education curriculum to increase understanding of the Holocaust, antisemitism and genocide.

The party said it does not endorse or support the BDS movement. “We recognize that Canadians have the right to freedom of expression and to support non-violent movements for the respect of international law,” the party said, adding that “BDS cannot replace good faith efforts to negotiate a sustainable and just solution to the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Conversely, when asked whether the NDP supports past parliamentary motions condemning BDS, we were told: “No. We believe these motions undermine the freedom of expression of Canadians, and the choice to support non-violent movements for the respect of international law.”

The NDP said it would not withhold government assistance resources from organizations or academic institutions that advocate for, or support, BDS, adding that it believes this would undermine freedom of expression in Canada.

The NDP said it believes that Canada has an important diplomatic role to play in bringing Iran back into the mainstream international community, and that the party stands with the people of Iran in their aspirations for freedom, peace, democracy and the rule of a just law.

The NDP said it unequivocally condemns the threatening statements and actions of Iran against its neighbours, particularly Israel, and it condemns the human-rights violations that continue to be perpetrated by its government.

On designating the entirety of the IRGC as a terrorist entity, the NDP responded: “We strongly condemn any financial, logistical or any other support given by the Iranian government for terrorist groups, whether in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere. The list of terrorist entities is updated based on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety, who is supposed to make such decisions based on comprehensive criminal and security intelligence reports. New Democrats would not want to politicize this process.”

The NDP supports the Iran Nuclear Agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. It would support using Canada’s Magnitsky Act sanctions against Iran’s human-rights offenders.

The NDP accepts the need for a close bilateral relationship with Israel, as set out in the existing Canada-Israel Strategic Partnership Memorandum of Understanding, but said it has concerns about the negative impacts of the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement on the path towards peace between Israel and Palestine.

The NDP does not support Canada’s recognition of an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a move of the Canadian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, saying it believes this would be detrimental to international law and peace, as East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory.

At its 2021 annual conference, the NDP passed a resolution calling for the suspension of Canadian arms sales to Israel. This resolution is featured in the party platform in these words: “Recognizing that both Palestinians and Israelis have the right to live in safety and security, we will work towards a just and lasting two-state solution between Israel and Palestine that respects human rights and upholds international law. Canada must play an active and constructive role in advancing peace, beginning by suspending arms sales to Israel until the end of the illegal occupation.”

 

The Green Party of Canada

The Green Party of Canada platform — Be  Daring — does not address Middle East issues in a direct way. Instead, it focuses on principles that would apply to international conflict situations. The platform does contain a commitment to “tackling identity-based hate and ensuring that the creation of a just society is at the centre of all decision-making.”

The commitment includes a reference to antisemitism in saying “it is the duty of our governments to identify, expose and root out supremacist movements, to ensure that those who promote and disseminate such ideologies know there will be no safe place or dark corners where their beliefs will be allowed to flourish.”

The Green Party says it is committed to building and keeping global peace, including post-conflict work to strengthen civil society and democratic institutions around the world. The party says it is aware of the dangers of militarism and the need to defend against it, one reason why it supports the United Nations doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect.’

On Middle East issues, the Green Party’s stated position reflects only one point: that Canada should cancel contracts to provide Saudi Arabia with armoured vehicles and ban the importation of Saudi oil.

In Oct. 2020, the Green Party elected Annamie Paul as leader, the first Jewish and Black woman to serve as a national party leader. 

The party’s position on issues touching the Middle East, since Ms. Paul’s election, is best summed up in a May 10, 2021 statement:

“The Green Party of Canada is committed to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This requires steps to end the violence in favour of engagement in peaceful, inclusive dialogue as the preferred means of resolving the current situation and of achieving sustainable peace.”

In a subsequent May 16, 2021 statement, the Green Party said it was alarmed by the escalating violence throughout Israel and Gaza and the mounting loss of life. It called for a victim-centre approach focused on the protection of civilians as the highest immediate priority. The Green Party said it “condemns the indiscriminate and deadly missile and rocket attacks on civilian areas.

In Sept. 2019, the Green Party said it has zero tolerance for sexism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia or hate speech of any kind.

The Green Party told us it is committed to working with affected communities, and the many strong civil society organizations that serve them, on a national plan to combat antisemitism at home and abroad.

In response to our questions, the Green Party said that a fresh federal strategy to deal with the dissemination of hate speech and hate crimes on the internet and social media is needed, and that the Green Party believes it is time that social media giants, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are held to account and that Canadian standards for illegal content removal are set, as has already been done in the European Union.

We were also told that the Green Party believes public education is an essential part of the solution to ensure that the sobering history of human rights violations that have been perpetrated against minority groups, and the lessons they provide, will not be forgotten. The Green Party said at the time of the last federal election, that it will call for mandatory curricular inclusion of materials to this effect, with particular importance paid to the atrocities committed against the Jewish people during World War II — a necessity given the frightening rise of modern Holocaust denial.

The Green Party also told us that increased hate has not been confined to the digital world. Verbal and physical threats to members of minority communities, particularly those who gather at religious institutions, including schools and other cultural centres, are also on the rise. Synagogues finding that they must spend large portions of their budgets on physical security is unacceptable. The Green Party said then that it believes that a national plan to combat antisemitism, hate crimes and hate speech must also include the following:

  • Development of training resources and guidelines for law enforcement agencies to help them understand the unique security concerns faced by religious communities;
  • A commitment to working with those communities to develop appropriate security and response plans, to both prevent offences and ensure victims receive the support they need;
  • Improvements to offence definitions and the statistical tracking of offences, both criminal and non-criminal; and,
  • Increased funding, delivered through Public Safety Canada, to ease the increased financial costs being borne by religious institutions.

The Green Party believed at the time of the last election that Canada has an important role to play in combating antisemitism, hate crimes and hate speech and protecting religious minority communities abroad. The Green Party told us it is committed to speaking out vigorously and utilizing Canada’s diplomatic influence to condemn hate offences and other human rights violations in the strongest of terms on the international stage, that Canada must be a lead advocate for the rights of refugees and persecuted minorities.

The Green Party said that it believes that legislative tools, such as the Immigration Act and Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (“Magnitsky Act”), should be leveraged to hold foreign actors accountable. Notorious offenders, such as the Iranian Government and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, must face sanctions. However, it said diplomatic ties should also be maintained, as further isolation of bad actors serves only to increase polarization and harm innocent individuals within their borders.

The Green Party said prior to the last election that the international community holds a responsibility to pressure actors to work towards peaceful solutions in cases of conflict, and that it supports individual citizens’ rights to engage in non-violent protest. While the Green Party did not endorse the formal Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, it said it acknowledges the tactics it entails as legitimate tools of non-violent political expression.

The Green Party told us it is committed to helping restore faith between United Nations’ agencies and Israel, believing that they still have a key role to play in facilitating progress toward a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians that recognizes the deep connection both communities feel towards the land and holy sites.