Free speech under attack in Canada
A TIME TO SPEAK OUT DAY OF ACTION TO DEFEND FREE SPEECH ON NOVEMBER 8
The Harper government is sponsoring a conference of the ‘Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism’ (ICCA) – the CPCCA’s international counterpart – in Ottawa on November 8 and 9. The CPCCA and ICCA have an agenda to attack free speech and to silence legitimate criticism of Israel by falsely conflating this with anti-Semitism.
Independent Jewish Voices, along with many other human rights, peace, union, and Palestinian rights groups, is deeply concerned about the threat to free speech and civil liberties posed by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti Semitism’(CPCCA). It is legitimate and ethically necessary for Canadians of conscience to criticize Israeli human rights abuses and to support non-violent remedies.
A NEW MCCARTHYISM
The Harper government has already slashed funding to NGOs that dared to express support for Palestinian rights, brutally attacked and abused G20 demonstrators, barred British MP George Galloway from entering Canada because of his aid to the people of Gaza, and attacked CUPE, CUPW, and Israeli Apartheid Week activities. The list goes on!
The CPCCA, with Minister of Censorship and Deportation Jason Kenney as one of the CPCCA’s driving forces, aims to entrench these attacks on free speech, for example, by changing hate crime legislation to include legitimate criticism of Israel, by criminalizing BDS campaigns, by pressuring schools to teach that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic, and by pressuring universities to ban events critical of Israel. Already in France, people have been arrested for distributing pamphlets critical of Israel.
The CPCCA held hearings this past year to try to paint a veneer of credibility on its transparent intention to attack free speech in Canada. It ignored many critical submissions. Even the CPCCA’s own witnesses from Canadian universities and the police confirmed that there is no rise in anti-Semitism and called on the CPCCA to respect free speech.
The ICCA conference is intended to distract from this embarrassing result. At a cost of over $451,280 in federal funds, the ICCA conference is closed to the public and the media, and makes no pretence of unbiased research.
STAND UP, FIGHT BACK
1. Organize a day of action for free speech on Monday, November 8.
Local events could include press conferences, protests, teach-ins, or other creative ideas to build the movement to defend free speech. IJV will release a 10 minute video on Nov. 8, which will be posted on YouTube and the IJV web site. Contact Independent Jewish Voices at email@example.com if you’d like us to send you a copy.
2. Contact your MP and the federal party leaders and demand they stand up for the principle of free speech in Canada and reject any attempts to silence or criminalize legitimate criticism of Israel. You can get their contact info at: http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E
3. Contact university presidents and human rights offices in your city and ask them also to issue a statement affirming the right of students and faculty to free speech.
4. Sign our Free Speech Petition at http://ijvcanada.org/sign-signez-petition-cpcca-hearings/ which will be released to the press and all MPs on Nov. 8.
5. Send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org of yourself holding a sign saying “I support free speech” or an anti-CPCCA sign (perhaps with duct tape over your mouth). We will post it on line with a title “This is what Democracy looks like.”
6. Join Independent Jewish Voices: Go to www.ijvcanada.org.