Majority of Canadians support Israel boycott, sanctions
A majority of Canadians believes that boycotting Israel is reasonable if the Israeli government continues to violate international law, a new public opinion poll has found.
Seventy-eight percent of Canadians would agree with a boycott of Israel, according to the EKOS survey, which was released late on Wednesday and examined Canadian attitudes on Israel and Palestine.
A majority of Canadians – 66 percent – also feel that applying sanctions on Israel would be reasonable in light of the United Nations' condemnations of illegal West Bank settlements.
The results show that Canadian public opinion is "radically opposed" to the positions taken by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government towards Israel and Palestine, said Dimitri Lascaris, the former justice critic in the Green Party of Canada's shadow cabinet.
"Whereas the government seems determined to perpetuate Israel's decades-long impunity for its egregious human rights abuses, a large majority of Canadians believe that sanctions and boycotts are reasonable measures to ensure Israel's respect for international law," Lascaris told The New Arab.
Lascaris co-sponsored the survey with a coalition that included lobby groups Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), and journalist Murray Dobbin.
A random sample of 1,000 Canadians across the political spectrum was surveyed between 25 January and 2 February.
Conservative Party voters were most opposed to boycotting or sanctioning Israel, while Bloc Quebecois party voters were most in favour, the survey found.
"These results are particularly stunning in light of the vilification of those calling for sanctions and boycotts by leaders of both the Conservative and Liberal parties," said Tom Woodley, who heads CJPME, in a statement.
"While calls for boycotts and sanctions have been denounced as a type of 'new anti-Semitism', two thirds of Canadians apparently disagree."
The results come on the heels of a previous survey that found that more Canadians held negative views of Israel than positives ones, and believed that Canada was unfairly biased in favour of Israel.
|a large majority of Canadians believe that sanctions and boycotts are reasonable measures to ensure Israel's respect for international law.
- Dimitri Lascaris
According to Lascaris, the survey proves that Canadians do not support recent federal and provincial government efforts in Canada to condemn the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Last year, Canada's parliament passed a symbolic motion to reject BDS, and condemn Canadian individuals and groups that support it.
Tabled by Conservative Party MP Tony Clement on 18 February, Clement described BDS as "a form of discrimination" and "anti-Israel". The parliamentary motion passed by a vote of 229 in favour, and 51 against.
The provincial legislature of Ontario, Canada's most populous province, also passed a similar motion condemning BDS in December.
The Ontario lawmaker who sponsored the motion compared BDS supporters to members of the Ku Klux Klan, the white nationalist group in the United States, during a debate before it was passed.
Palestinian civil society groups launched the BDS call in 2005.
The BDS movement aims to pressure Israel to end its nearly 50-year occupation of Palestinian territories and dismantle the separation wall, stop discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees."Justin Trudeau has often acknowledged the need for 'social license' to pursue his agenda," Lascaris said.
"This poll shows that, when it comes to his extraordinarily deferential attitude to Israel's government, Trudeau has no social license whatsoever."
Jillian Kestler D'Amours is a journalist based in Canada. Follow her on Twitter: @jkdamours