Canada to Fight BDS Movement with Hate Crime Laws

May 11, 2015  

Canada, one of Israel’s staunchest allies, appears primed to use its new hate crime laws against groups advocating for the virulently anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

According to a Canadian Broadcasting Company report on Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government made its intentions clear by sending a list of the country’s hate crime laws in response to CBC’s inquiry on its stance on BDS. 

Over the past few months, several cabinet ministers have made statements pledging vigilance against the country’s many BDS groups, which are primarily associated with universities, labor unions and churches. 

In January, then foreign minister John Baird swore to fight the movement, which calls for boycotts of the Jewish state, and which Baird named “the new face of anti-Semitism.”

Shortly thereafter, in a United Nations address, Public Security Minister Steven Blaney argued that boycotts of Israel constitute anti-Semitic hate speech and violence, and vowed a “zero tolerance” policy toward the BDS movement. 

Asked by CBC recently to explain the meaning of “zero tolerance” and what if anything was being done to enforce the policy, a spokesperson for Blaney replied with a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws. 

“I can tell you that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of laws against hate crime anywhere in the world,” Josee Sirois said, noting that the Criminal Code now covers hate speech based on a person’s “religion or national or ethnic origin.”

“We will not allow hate crimes to undermine our way of life, which is based on diversity and inclusion,” Sirois concluded.

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