Canada considering using hate crime laws against pro-BDS groups

( The Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has indicated that it may use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pictured) and his government are known to be strong friends of Israel. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This could affect religious organizations such as the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers, as well as campus groups, civil society organizations, labor unions, and others. But while the Canadian government can enforce prosecution priorities among Canadian police, any resulting prosecution will need to get approval from a provincial attorney general, reported Canada’s CBC News. In addition, civil liberty groups say the move would be challenged under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian bill of rights.

In January, former Canadian foreign minister John Baird signed a "memorandum of understanding" with Israeli authorities that committed to fight BDS, and described the movement as "the new face of anti-Semitism.” Currently, Canadian government ministers have indicated they are taking a "zero tolerance" approach to groups participating in BDS. 

"I can tell you that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of laws against hate crime anywhere in the world," said Josee Sirois, aide to Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney. "We will not allow hate crimes to undermine our way of life, which is based on diversity and inclusion."

Posted on May 11, 2015 .