Citizen Action Monitor

Elizabeth May’s decision to stay on as leader “is good news for the Party”, says party member Dimitri Lascaris

As author of the divisive BDS resolution, he remains hopeful “she will see the wisdom and support for BDS.” Really?

No 1756 Posted by fw, August 23, 2016

“I’m hopeful that at the end of the day she will see the wisdom and support for BDS. I’m going to do all that I can to impress upon her that it is the right thing to do. And she commented today that she doesn’t believe — and I respect her opinion — but she doesn’t believe that we should be endorsing social movements like BDS. This is exactly what our party did when it endorsed the Leap Manifesto. The Leap Manifesto is fundamentally a social movement. It’s an expression of will, of social movement. It isn’t a partisan political document. And if we’re prepared to endorse something as important and socially constructive as Leap manifesto, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t take in my view a strong stand for Palestinian rights and say that Israel should be made to pay appropriate peaceful economic and political penalties for its clear violation of international law.”Dimitri Lascaris

Good news for the party. Bad news for Palestinians?

In reading Elizabeth May’s August 22 email to Green Party members, copied at the bottom of this post, Dimitri’s hopes that Ms. May “will see the wisdom and support for BDS” appear likely to be dashed. She writes:

“Last night, the council [Green Party’s Federal Council] passed a motion that the Green Party of Canada will hold a Special Meeting in order to review and adopt processes for improved policy making, and to re-open all policies passed at the August 2016 Convention on which the floor was divided, with the goal of a united party. This meeting will take place at earliest in December, and will be followed by a ratification vote (online and by mail) in which all members can participate. We will share the details of this Special Meeting as soon as they become available.”

For whatever reason, May’s news of an upcoming review of policy making processes and re-opening of all policies passed at the August Convention was not raised with Dimitri during his Real News Interview, which was published today.

Regardless, Lascaris did not miss the interview opportunity to point out the following: the source of disagreement between himself and Ms. May on how best to achieve a two-state solution; that his BDS resolution was supported by a majority on 3 separate occasions over a six-month period; that contrary to May’s belief that other methods of influencing Israeli are available, all other methods have been exhausted, quite some time ago; contrary to May’s comment again today that the Green Party should not be endorsing social movements like the BDS, given the Greens’ support for the Leap Manifesto, a social movement, why not support for BDS?; and the broad base of BDS support in the grassroots of the NDP party could conceivably start a snowball effect.

Finally, when asked if the Liberals have shown any appetite for wanting to pressure Israel into a more equitable two-state solution, Lascaris responded: “None whatsoever and it’s shameful…. The Justin Trudeaus of this world are paying mere lip service to the plight of the Palestinian people.”

Below is an embedded version of the 10:35-minute videorecorded interview along with a slightly abridged copy of the transcript, including added subheadings. And don’t miss the copy of Elizabeth May’s short email at the bottom of this post. Alternatively, watch the interview and read the full transcript at the Real News website by clicking on the following linked title.

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Green Party of Canada Leader Reaffirms Leadership Following Row Over BDS by The Real News Network, August 23, 2016

While Elizabeth May says no to other parties, a strong stand for Palestinian rights includes making Israel pay the appropriate economic and political penalties for its clear violation of international law, says today’s guest, Dimitri Lascaris

Dimitri Lascaris is a lawyer called to the bars of New York State and Ontario, Canada. He is currently the justice critic in the shadow cabinet of the Green Party of Canada, and he does legal work in the fields of human rights and environmental law. He is also a board member of The Real News Network.

TRANSCRIPT

Elizabeth May seems to really want to have the party revisit the recently-adopted BDS resolution

Kim Brown — Canadian MP Elizabeth May told reporters on Monday that she will stay on as leader of Canada’s Green Party after saying she was considering stepping down because of her opposition to the party’s recently-adopted policy of endorsing the strategy of Boycott Divest and Sanction against Israel.

Dimitri, the Green Party adopted the BDS resolution during their convention this summer because they support a two state solution between Palestine and Israel. Elizabeth May seems to really want to have the party revisit this. Can you bring us up to speed on this issue?

May has been very clear about Green Party support for the two-state solution

Dimitri Lascaris — Right, well she, Elizabeth, I think, has been very clear about the party support for the two-state solution, a sovereign Palestinian state along essentially the 1967 borders. And in fact, the international community, including the current predecessor Canadian governments, have been very clear in their support for the two-state solution.

Israel settlements and siege on Gaza are obstacles to peace: May acknowledges illegality of settlements

One of the fundamental obstacles if not the biggest obstacle by far to the two-state solution is Israel settlements in the West Bank its punishing siege and inhuman siege on Gaza which is creating a humanitarian crisis. Ms. May, our leader, has quite rightly acknowledged the illegality of the settlements and that our party in 2014 adopted a policy which explicitly recognized that they were an obstacle to peace.

Ms. May and I disagree on how best to achieve a two-state solution

Where Ms. May and I part company is how best to achieve a two-state solution.

My proposition, intended to ensure Israel’s respect for human rights law, was supported by a majority on 3 occasions over 6 months

And my simple proposition, and the one I think was clearly embraced by a substantial majority of the members of the party on three occasions in the last 6 months in an online vote, in a workshop at the convention, and in the full plenary vote in the convention, is that we’re never going to have a two-state solution unless we ensure Israel’s respect for human rights law.

The proposition calls for penalties on those Israelis who are profiting from the occupation and settlements

And that means that there have to be penalties, appropriate penalties imposed on those sectors of Israel’s society and economy that are profiting from the occupation and the settlements. That’s all that this resolution does. It says we want to bring about an end to the settlements and a real negotiation toward a two-state solution by imposing peaceful economic and political sanctions on those sectors of Israel’s society and economy which profit form the occupation.

Ms. May believes there are other methods that are likely to be successful

Ms. May I think –I don’t want to speak for her, but I think her view is that there are other methods that I think are more likely to be successful.

In my view, all other methods have been tried and failed. BDS is the only real hope remaining for Palestinians

I think all other methods have been exhausted and quite some time ago in fact, they were all exhausted and this is the only real hope remaining to the Palestinian people. That’s my perspective.

How would the Greens be able to implement BDS in Canada?

Brown — So a couple of questions here, Dimitri. So how does the Green Party of Canada, how would your party be able to implement a strategy of BDS, Boycott Divest and Sanctions, against Israeli interest, I imagine, in Canada? Explain to me how this would work.

The resolution is a moral and symbolic expression of Green Party support for BDS

Lascaris — Well what this resolution is, it’s an expression of support for the BDS movement. Which I think has quite significant moral and symbolic force for the Canadian public. We are operating in an environment here in Canada, and this is true in other western countries like the United States and France, in which apologists for the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, an extreme, violent, and racist government are creating very powerful disincentives to oppress support for BDS.

To their shame, Canada’s Liberals and Conservatives adopted an anti-BDS resolution earlier this year

In this country we had a resolution passed with the support of, I think to the shame of, the Liberal government and the Conservative government, who seemed to have virtually no concern whatsoever for the plight of the Palestinian people. They adopted a resolution which came very close to describing support for BDS as anti-semitic.

The Green Party’s resolution breaks Netanyahu’s illegitimate taboo to even talk about much less support BDS

As I said, you’re seeing this in other countries and what you’re doing through this and I think quite properly and quite bravely as a party is we are breaking the taboo which the apologists for the Netanyahu government are trying to build around the BDS movement. They’re trying to make it taboo to even talk about it, express support for it.

So we are saying that the party that has representation in the Canadian parliament is prepared to express support for the BDS movement. This taboo is illegitimate and people should be free to come forward and to give support by for example refusing to buy products that are manufactured in the West Bank. So this is really an important symbolic expression of support. It will ignite and has ignited an important and essential conversation about how we bring about a two-state solution after all of the failed attempts and Israel’s ongoing settlement activity in the West Bank.

Pushback against the resolution reflects pro-Israeli concern about the effectiveness of the BDS movement

That’s where I think we have something to contribute and I think that the pushback that we’re getting from the government of Israel and its apologists like the B’nai B’rith demonstrate quite clearly that the government of Israel is quite concerned about the BDS movement. The government of Israel knows that this could actually have an impact on its economy and its trying to shut down debate about BDS precisely for that reason.

What is the significance of May’s decision not to resign her leadership position?

Brown — And there was some pushback within Canada, even within the Green Party of Canada, about adopting the BDS resolution. And Elizabeth May said that the reason that she is not stepping down from the party as a whole is because she didn’t see another political party that would be a suitable home for her. But she did say she gave serious consideration about stepping down form her leadership position. What does it say to you that she did not elect to do that today?

May’s decision to stay on is good news for the party

Lascaris — I think it’s good news for the Party. Elizabeth has many wonderful qualities. She has Deputy leader Daniel Green commented on television today, she’s developed an institutional knowledge about parliament, something that we need in this party because we’ve only had one seat. We’ve only won one seat in parliament, Elizabeth’s seat. So it’s a positive development that’s certainly very good news for the party that she’s staying on at the helm.

The Green Party is a good fit for May; she won’t find another party that respects her core values

And I think it does reflect the fact that Elizabeth’s core values are consistent with the core values of the party, and she understands that. Where else is she going to find a party that respects those core values? The liberals that support bill C-51, the anti-terror law that’s highly oppressive, that to want to see tar sands pipelines constructed that support democracy destroying trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership and the [CEDA].

“I’m hopeful that at the end of the day she will see the wisdom and support for BDS”

No, this is the party where a fine individual like Elizabeth May is most at home. I’m hopeful that at the end of the day she will see the wisdom and support for BDS. I’m going to do all that I can to impress upon her that it is the right thing to do.

But she said again today that the Green Party should not be endorsing social movements like the BDS

And she commented today that she doesn’t believe, and I respect her opinion, but she doesn’t believe that we should be endorsing social movements like BDS.

If the Greens can support the Leap Manifesto, a social movement, why not support BDS?

This is exactly what our party did when it endorsed the Leap Manifesto. The Leap Manifesto is fundamentally a social movement. It’s an expression of will, of social movement. It isn’t a partisan political document. And if we’re prepared to endorse something as important and socially constructive as Leap manifesto, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t take in my view a strong stand for Palestinian rights and say that Israel should be made to pay appropriate peaceful economic and political penalties for its clear violation of international law.

Has the Trudeau government pressured Israel to move to a two-state solution?

Brown — And Dimitri, lastly is the Green Party of Canada sort of alone politically when it comes to BDS as a strategy, as something to endorse even symbolically? What about the Trudeau administration? Have they shown any appetite for wanting to pressure Israel into a more equitable two-state solution?

Duplicitous Trudeau talks out of both sides of his mouth

Lascaris — None whatsoever and it’s shameful. I was just looking today at the government of Canada website and it says explicitly that the settlements quite properly recognized, that the settlements are a violation of international law, an obstacle to peace, and that the occupation should come to an end as quickly as possible. But he’s saying these things, Justin Trudeau, and his predecessors out of one side of his mouth. And out the other side of his mouth every time somebody like Benjamin Netanyahu comes to this country, they roll out the red carpet and the embrace him as one of Canada’s dearest friends on the international stage. The Justin Trudeaus of this world are paying mere lip service to the plight of the Palestinian people.

There’s a broad base of BDS support amongst the grassroots of the NDP party, which could start a snowball effect

But I think that this is going to start changing now. If we hold firm and we stick with the resolve of the majority, the clear will of the majority, there’s going to be an impetus in other movements and I think particularly other parties. I think particularly the NDP where I know there to be a very broad base support for BDS amongst the grassroots. There’s going to be an impetus in that party to cause the leader, the new leader whoever it’s going to be, to adopt a position that reflects the will of its members. Then we can start a snowball effect, as it were. And then think at that point, once the NDP signs on then I’m confident that eventually the grassroots will prevail in that debate. Then we can start working on the liberal party and the grassroots of the liberal party.

END OF INTERVIEW

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Next Steps – A note to all GPC members, email, from Elizabeth May, August 22, 2016

Dear Frank,

First, thank you to the thousands of you who have written messages of support and love over the last ten days or so. It has been a rough patch for us as a party, but thanks to support from the federal council, I’m confident we have a clear path to be a stronger and more united party than ever.

I am relieved and happy to let you know that I am staying on as leader of the Green Party of Canada. The council fully supports my need to focus my energies on the electoral reform process. It is hard for people who are not used to the way the media works to understand how pressed and overwhelming it is to be hounded by press. We turned down most interviews before I left for holidays. But we knew the questions about our August convention would not go away, and so the council met late last night to chart a path forward. We all understood the need to end the uncertainty hanging over me as I buckle down for meetings of the Special Parliamentary committee on electoral reform later today.

Last night, the council passed a motion that the Green Party of Canada will hold a Special Meeting in order to review and adopt processes for improved policy making, and to re-open all policies passed at the August 2016 Convention on which the floor was divided, with the goal of a united party.

This meeting will take place at earliest in December, and will be followed by a ratification vote (online and by mail) in which all members can participate. We will share the details of this Special Meeting as soon as they become available.

Thanks to those of you who took the time to fill our survey. Based on feedback from many of you, our members, we saw that a clear majority wanted more discussion on our policies and policy-making processes. The Special Meeting, coupled with the ratification, will allow you to have your voice formally heard.

While much remains to be worked out, I am very touched by the overwhelming support I have received. I urge all of us to work to achieve consensus on difficult resolutions left in the wake of our August convention. No matter where you stand on contentious issues, please do what you can to help all of us move ahead to be the most progressive, transparent, and united party in Canada.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth May
Leader
Green Party of Canada

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