World Bulletin / News Desk
The Canadian government said there is no truth to a CBC story that groups supporting boycotts of Israel will be charged under hate laws.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said “no” Tuesday when asked if the government planned to use the threat of hate crime charges to stop boycotts such as the one passed in March by McMaster University students.
The students voted in favor of supporting the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement, designed to pressure Israel to adopt Palestinian rights.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government are strong supporters of Israel.
Blaney said the government has faith in the Criminal Code to handle hate speech and “we trust in our justice system to enforce those regulations” without government pressure.
Public Safety communications director Jean-Christophe de le Rue noted that “politicians cannot lay charges – the independent police and public prosecution service do.”
But there are mixed signals coming from the government about the issue.
Blaney is on record as saying there is a “zero tolerance” policy for any group supporting BDS.
And a spokesperson for the minister’s department, Josee Sirois, when asked what “zero tolerance” means and how it will be used, said, ”I can tell you that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of laws against hate crime anywhere in the world,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
She also noted that judges must consider prejudice when sentencing an offender.
McMaster Student Union President Ehma Osazuma told the CBC that any suggestion that support of BDS is a hate crime is ridiculous.
“To suggest that McMaster students participated in some form of hate speech, by exercising their right to peacefully congregate and utilize the democratic mechanisms of their student government, to declare an opinion on an international event is simply egregious.”
Meanwhile, Canadian supporters of BDS – which originated in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental groups – are concerned about the possibility of hate crime charges. That includes student unions like the one at McMaster University, the United Church of Canada and Canadian Quakers, all of whom adopted BDS.
Their fears in part stem from a “memorandum of understanding” signed by former Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird with Israel that pledges to combat BDS, calling the movement the “new face of anti-Semitism.”Last Mod: 14 Mayıs 2015, 13:43