Now that the Bloc Quebecois has openly repudiated the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) and walked away from it, an opening exists to pressure the NDP to do likewise. PSN urges everyone who values freedom of expression for Canadians and who believes in social justice for the Palestinians to write to these NDP caucus members asking them to do the right thing by removing their two MPs from the coalition.

The March 21 edition of the Toronto Star has an excellent op-ed on the CPCCA by editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui.

You can also read Murray Dobbin’s November, 2009 column on the CPCCA here.

Below is the translation of the Le Devoir article about the Bloc Quebecois leaving the CPCCA.

Coalition to Combat Antisemitism
The Bloc Quebecois quits

Hélène Buzzetti,
Le Devoir, March 10, 2010

Ottawa – The Bloc Quebecois decided yesterday to withdraw from the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism because it judges it “biased” in favor of Israel and against the Palestinians.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA) is a coalition of parliamentary parties represented in Ottawa. Less as of yesterday. Le Devoir learned that the two representatives ‘bloquistes’ participating in the CPCCA decided to quit.

The CPCCA undertook an “investigation commission” to address the nature of antisemitism in Canada. Witnesses were invited, including Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney. The Bloc Quebecois, deploring the fact that most witnesses shared the same perspective and point of view, proposed to hear two different groups.

“We found that the list of the proposed witnesses presented a single side of the same coin”, explains the whip of the Bloc Quebecois, Michel Guimond. We wanted this to be a lot more reasonable.” They asked to hear the Canadian-Arab Federation, that had submitted testimony and asked for an audience, as well as the Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East. The committee, presided by the conservative Scott Reid, did not grant this request.

Michel Guimond asserts that the withdrawal of the Bloc must be understood as a “repudiation”. The party wants to distance itself while the Coalition prepares its report. “We consider that the Coalition is tainted, partisan and presents a single side of the coin. We desired a a much more moderate approach, more consensual, and still with the outlook to find peace.”

One will remember that Ottawa cut funding to the Canadian-Arab Federation last year, after they had called Minister Kenney a “professional whore” for his absolute support for the State of Israel.

Please find below the e-mail addresses for the entire NDP federal caucus. Please take a few minutes to cut and paste your preferred sample letter to NDP Leader Jack Layton from below and the NDP federal caucus e-mail list. Then send your message. We also encourage you to send hard copies of your message to Jack Layton and NDP CPCCA members Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Pat Martin.

Step 1: Cut and paste addresses into your email program

laytoj@parl.gc.ca ; Allen.Ma@parl.gc.ca ; Angus.C@parl.gc.ca ; Ashton.N@parl.gc.ca ; atamaa1@parl.gc.ca ; BevinD@parl.gc.ca ; Charlton.C@parl.gc.ca ; Chow.O@parl.gc.ca ; Christopherson.D@parl.gc.ca ; Comartin.J@parl.gc.ca ; Crowder.J@parl.gc.ca ; Cullen@parl.gc.ca ; Davies.D@parl.gc.ca ; Davies.L@parl.gc.ca ; Dewar.P@parl.gc.ca ; Duncan.L@parl.gc.ca ; Godin.Y@parl.gc.ca ; Gravelle.C@parl.gc.ca ; Harris.J@parl.gc.ca ; Hughes.C@parl.gc.ca ; Hyer.B@parl.gc.ca ; Julian.P@parl.gc.ca ; Leslie.M@parl.gc.ca ; Maloway.J@parl.gc.ca ; Marston.W@parl.gc.ca ; martin.pat@parl.gc.ca ; Martin.T@parl.gc.ca ; Masse.B@parl.gc.ca ; Mathyssen.I@parl.gc.ca ; Mulcair.T@parl.gc.ca ; Rafferty.J@parl.gc.ca ; Savoie.D@parl.gc.ca ; Siksay.B@parl.gc.ca ; Stoffer.P@parl.gc.ca ; Thibeault.G@parl.gc.ca ; wasylj@parl.gc.ca

Step 2: Select a sample letter or write your own

SAMPLE LETTER 1

Jack Layton,
Leader,
Federal NDP

Dear Jack:

Now that the Bloc Quebecois has quit the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) and repudiated it as blatantly biased toward Israel and against the Palestinians, don’t you think the NDP should walk away as well? I do. The Bloc indicated that the CPCCA was not helpful at all in advancing the peace process. Marc Guimond, Bloc Quebecois party whip, deplored the fact that the Coalition’s witnesses were all one-sided and that the Coalition refused to hear two of its suggested witnesses. He stated, “We consider that the Coalition is tainted, partisan and presents a single side of the coin. We desired a much more moderate approach, more consensual, and still with the outlook to find peace.”

I know that the NDP would like to see an even-handed approach to peace in the Middle East. Clearly, the CPCCA is not the place to find it.

The Bloc withdrew before the CPCCA could send its report to Parliament, thereby dissociating itself from CPCCA recommendations which will not be helpful in the peace process and which will aim to restrict the free expression of Canadians in regards to criticism of the State of Israel. In short, the Bloc took preventative action now, rather than having to do damage control later. Don’t you think the NDP should do the same?

I do.

Sincerely,

_______________
cc. NDP federal caucus

***

SAMPLE LETTER 2

Dear Jack:

Congratulations on your successful resolution in Parliament to limit the PM’s ability to prorogue Parliament! Your victory helps to fight Stephen Harper’s right-wing agenda of limiting public debate in Canada. And that’s the topic of my letter to you today.

It is time for the NDP to remove its two members from the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA).

The CPCCA website (CPCCA.ca) declares that it is not opposed to critiques of individual actions of the Israeli government. However, by the fall of this year, it plans to send to the House of Commons a report presumably containing recommendations that will make it difficult or even illegal to describe the State of Israel as an “apartheid” regime, or as a “fascist” state, and to make it more difficult to challenge the fundamentally discriminatory nature of the Israeli system of government. That is to say, if Parliament adopts the recommendations, people who argue for the “one state solution”, a peace plan to transform the existing Israeli state into a secular (bi-national) government with equal rights for all, might find themselves accused of arguing for “the destruction of the State of Israel” and subject to legal action or other pressures.

Moreover, universities or colleges that permit events like Israeli Apartheid Week to take place on their campuses might find their funding cut. In other words, post-secondary institutions may find themselves under pressure to limit political discourse.

If the CPCCA has its way, some Canadians will be charged under hate crime laws for actions relating to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign. In addition, some post-secondary students will be disciplined or expelled for trying to organize Israeli Apartheid Week activities. It would take several years and a lot of money for a Charter challenge to be heard by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, a chill would be felt from coast to coast among those inclined to protest the racist policies of the State of Israel. And that is precisely what the CPCCA aims to do.

The CPCCA fits perfectly into Stephen Harper’s agenda of silencing any opposition to his ideologically-driven, neo-liberal, and pro-war agenda. His government banned George Galloway from speaking in Canada. It defunded the Canadian Arab Federation and KAIROS, and he personally prorogued Parliament. Now his government has denied a visa for Palestinian leader Dr. Mustafa Barghouti who had scheduled a speaking tour of Canada.

The NDP cannot be seen to participate in the CPCCA, which will result in a further limitation on freedom of expression for Canadians.

Please do not hesitate. The Bloc Quebecois has already repudiated the CPCCA and removed its two MP’s from that body. Please ask Pat Martin and Judy Wasylycia-Leis to step down from the CPCCA now.

Sincerely,

_______________
cc. NDP federal caucus

***

SAMPLE LETTER 3

Dear Jack:

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) purports to fight anti-semitism in Canada. However, when we examine the hate crime statistics for Canada over a number of years, we see that, while there are still some incidents of anti-semitic graffiti, name calling, and disturbing phone calls, nonetheless, hate crimes against Jews are less numerous than those annually recorded against blacks, South Asians, Arabs, and Muslims (in roughly that order).
In addition, the hate crimes that these groups suffer (especially blacks) are usually of a more serious nature than those recorded against Jews.

The CPCCA called, as witnesses, a number of university administrators whom they hoped would say that anti-semitism was a problem on their campuses. To date, not one has said so.

Furthermore, when we look across Canada in the year 2010, it is hard to find a profession or occupation in which Jews have not risen to prominence, including in politics. Although it was once the case in Canada, Jews are no longer excluded from country clubs, vacation resorts, or owning homes in posh new subdivisions. Statistically, most Canadian Jews enjoy a comfortable standard of living. So, if Parliament were sincere about combatting racism, it might want to focus on other ethnic groups rather than concentrating only on anti-semitism.

But we both know that the CPCCA is not really about fighting anti-semitism. It is about damage control for the State of Israel after its cowardly and merciless massacre of Gazans in 2008. 1500 completely defenceless civilians were killed, including 400 children. 5000 Gazans were seriously wounded, including hundreds made permanently disabled through amputations. Even today, Gaza is still groaning until an Israeli siege which has lasted 1000 days, longer than the siege of Leningrad during WW2. People are living in tents because their homes were destroyed in the Israeli bombardment and they exist without adequate food, medical supplies, jobs, and other necessities of life.

The purpose of the CPCCA is to limit criticism in Canada of the fundamentally discriminatory nature of Isreali society and to put a chill on Canadians who might want to help the Palestinian people through various public campaigns that are being routinely conducted in the United States and most of the countries of Western Europe.

Is the NDP for limiting political debate in Canada, Jack? Not judging by your successful resolution in Parliament recently to put restraints on the Prime Minister’s office in calling for the prorogation of Parliament, which resolution I personally supported. Congratulations!

I know the NDP took a dim view of the Harper government’s meddling in Rights and Democracy, its defunding of KAIROS, and its banning of George Galloway. I hope you will be consistent and remove your two MP’s from the CPCCA at once.

Sincerely,

_______________
cc. NDP federal caucus

***

OPTION 4: Write your own letter.

Please focus on the issue of freedom of expression for Canadians as that is the one issue that is likely to elicit the desired response from the NDP. You may wish to refer to the statement by Andrea Horwath, ONDP leader, who courageously condemned the back-door Ontario Conservative MPP’s resolution to condemn Israeli Apartheid Week as “divisive”.

Step 3: Press send! Then encourage your friends to do the same.

Thanks to Ken Stone for the information in this action call.

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