Citizen Action Monitor

Ontario NDP votes in favour of anti-freedom of expression Bill 168

The vote is “a serious betrayal of the party’s commitments toward human rights and progressive values in Ontario,” says IJV Canada.

No 2596 Posted by fw, March 2, 2020

“Independent Jewish Voices Canada is deeply dismayed and concerned with the Ontario Government’s decision to unanimously approve Bill 168, the Combating Antisemitism Act, on its second reading at Queen’s Park yesterday. The Bill seeks to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) flawed and controversial definition of antisemitism. — [which intentionally equates legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with antisemitism]. … Particularly concerning is that not one NDP MPP voted against the Bill, representing a serious betrayal of the party’s commitments toward human rights and progressive values in Ontario. Conspicuously absent were nearly the entire Ontario NDP caucus, including party leader Andrea Horwath, and anti-racism critic Laura Mae Lindo.”IJV Canada

Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) is a grassroots organization grounded in Jewish tradition that opposes all forms of racism and advocates for justice and peace for all in Israel-Palestine.

In related news, IJV also reposted on its website an “Open Letter from Canadian Academics Opposing the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism,” which urges “… all those who value honest debate and academic freedom to reject the imposition of a definition that would imperil the pursuit of truth and the legitimate expression of dissent.

For more information, including Independent Jewish Voices’ full report on the IHRA definition, please visit: www.noihra.ca. Please feel free to contact us with any questions at noihra@ijvcanada.org.

Below is my repost of IJV’s article in “The Bullet”, including my added subheadings, bold highlighting, and photo. Alternatively, read the article and the letter from Canadian academics by clicking on the following linked title.

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Contesting Bill 168: Controversial Antisemitism Bill Passes Second Reading in Ontario by Independent Jewish Voices Canada, The Bullet, February 28, 2020

Ontario Government’s unanimous approval of Bill 168, the Combating Antisemitism Act, dismaying

Independent Jewish Voices Canada is deeply dismayed and concerned with the Ontario Government’s decision to unanimously approve Bill 168, the Combating Antisemitism Act, on its second reading at Queen’s Park yesterday. The Bill seeks to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) flawed and controversial definition of antisemitism.

The BILL now goes to the standing committee on justice policy for review and public input before a final vote

Bill 168 was approved on second reading by a vote of 55-0, and now goes to the standing committee on justice policy for review and public input before a final vote. Particularly concerning is that not one NDP MPP voted against the Bill, representing a serious betrayal of the party’s commitments toward human rights and progressive values in Ontario. Conspicuously absent were nearly the entire Ontario NDP caucus, including party leader Andrea Horwath, and anti-racism critic Laura Mae Lindo. In a bizarre move, NDP MPP John Vanthof spoke to concerns around the impact on freedom of expression that Bill 168 represents, but then voted in favour of the Bill.

NDP has strayed far from the position it took 4 years ago in defeating Bill 202 regarding the BDS movement

Ontario NDP MPPs should be reminded that only 4 years ago, Bill 202 came up for debate at Queen’s Park – a bill that would have imposed severe limitations on the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, prevented the province with doing business with institutions that supported BDS, and stopped universities from being able to endorse the movement. Luckily, this profoundly anti-democratic Bill failed on second reading. At the time, then Ontario NDP deputy leader Jagmeet Singh spoke passionately against the Bill in the interests of having a free and open societal debate on Israel-Palestine. It is profoundly troubling that the NDP has strayed so far from this position that one of its most prominent members took not so long ago.

IJV Canada thanks the many supporters who spoke out in opposition to Bill 168

IJV Canada wishes to thank all of our supporters, over one thousand of whom sent in emails to members of Ontario’s Parliament to oppose Bill 168. In addition, we thank the many organizations that supported us in our fight, such as the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the Canadian Federation of Students, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, the Canadian Friends Service Committee, and the BC Civil Liberties Association. Moreover, a group of over 350 Canadian academics launched an open letter yesterday (see letter below) declaring their opposition to the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism.

IJV vows the fight will go on against Bill 168 and IHRA’s antisemitism definition

While yesterday’s vote at Queen’s Park was extremely disappointing, IJV Canada remains committed to the fight against Bill 168, and against the IHRA antisemitism definition more broadly. We believe that it is crucial to fight antisemitism and white supremacy, while at the same time protecting freedom of expression and standing up for Palestinian human rights.

IJV encourages all to speak out during the upcoming period of public input

In terms of the next steps, IJV Canada intends to weigh in on Bill 168 during the period of public input, and we will keep our members posted as to the next action steps.

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