Over the past several months, CJPME has performed extensive research to assess the position of each NDP leadership candidate on the Middle East. As part of this research, in June, CJPME worked with Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) to issue a questionnaire on Middle East issues to all of the candidates. By mid-July, each of the candidates' campaigns had responded to this questionnaire. The current document presented below consolidates CJPME’s research and assesses the possible direction of the NDP on the Middle East under the leadership of each of the different candidates. (Note that IJV is also conducting its own independent assessment, using slightly different assessment criteria. IJV's assessment can be found on-line at http://ijvcanada.org)
CJPME’s final assessment of the candidates – based on their vision for Canada and the Middle East – is as follows:
A+ Niki Ashton
A- Jagmeet Singh
B+ Guy Caron
B Charlie Angus
See the responses to the CJPME-IJV questionnaire from each of the candidates:
- Charlie Angus questionnaire response
- Niki Ashton questionnaire response
- Guy Caron questionnaire response
- Jagmeet Singh questionnaire response
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the Middle East positions of each of the New Democratic Party (NDP) leadership candidates. This analysis incorporated information gathered from a number of different sources: quotes and references in the media, the leadership debates, the Hansard (the record of parliamentary debates), press statements, the candidates' campaign Websites, and more.
Most important in the data gathering and analysis was a questionnaire jointly issued by CJPME and Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) issued to each of the leadership candidates in June. All of the candidates responded to the questionnaire, although two of them (Angus and Singh) chose to answer the questionnaire in a way which deviated from the approach recommended by CJPME and IJV.
With the CJPME-IJV questionnaire, the candidates were asked to identify their stances on a scale of 1 to 5, with the implications of each choice clearly described in the question. Candidates were encouraged to provide commentary with their answers if they desired.
Based on all the information collected, CJPME has determined that – in terms of their commitment to a constructive approach to the Middle East by Canada – the candidates rank as follows:
A+ Niki Ashton
A- Jagmeet Singh
B+ Guy Caron
B Charlie Angus
The “grades” suggested reflect a synthesis and interpretation of both the answers to the CJPME-IJV questionnaire and all the other information gathered through the CJPME analysis. Historically, the NDP has been Canada's left-of-centre party, so NDP leadership candidates could not expect to distinguish themselves in this analysis by repeating the same platitudes as those put forth by candidates from other parties. In its analysis, CJPME was looking for leadership and new ideas on questions of Canada and the Middle East. Similarly, CJPME sought to verify that leadership candidates presented a consistent view of their positions, and looked at how their questionnaire responses compared with their personal record of statements and votes.
Niki Ashton has been the most forthright of the candidates in speaking out for a principled approach to the Middle East. Early in the race, Ashton distinguished herself as the only candidate to include justice for Palestinians as one of the specific policy items in her platform. During her years as an MP, and during the course of the leadership campaign, Ashton has spoken out on several topics – e.g. the Palestinian Nakba; Canada's role in the Middle East; the dismissal of NDP candidates based on their views on Israel-Palestine – that demonstrate her comfort with such stances, and her willingness to uphold international law in the Middle East. Ashton is frank about the need for a just and purposeful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict—one that addresses the underlying roots of the conflict. With Ashton at the helm, the NDP would undoubtedly provide more vocal and effective leadership on Middle East issues.
Jagmeet Singh is familiar with the dynamics of the Middle East, and has frequently taken principled stances on topics related to the region. His leadership opposing the Ontario legislature motion condemning BDS in 2016 is recognized, as have been his statements against the rise of Islamophobia in Canada. Since his election, Singh has taken impressive stands condemning Islamophobia, issuing dozens of statements stressing the importance of naming it as a specific form of racism that must be addressed by the government. Nevertheless, his approach to questions on the Middle East is generally more cautious and has not always been as forthcoming as Ashton in terms of his policy. With Singh as leader, NDP policy on the Middle East might become more progressive, but not quite as energetically or assertively as it would under Ashton.
There was less on the public record concerning Guy Caron and his positions on the Middle East. While Caron took clear and progressive positions in his response to the CJPME-IJV questionnaire, he chose not to provide additional commentary to better contextualize to his answers. Although Caron's campaign has not sought to distinguish itself from the others with bold foreign policy proposals, all of his answers show a strong commitment to international law. With Caron, foreign policy would not be a central focus of the NDP, although there would be the potential for the party to become more progressive on Middle East issues under his leadership.
Charlie Angus and his positions on Middle East issues are generally encouraging, but also sometimes fuzzy. On the one hand, he has frequently challenged the Harper and Trudeau governments' positions on the Middle East: seemingly concerned with the proliferation of weapons in the Middle East, stressing the importance of non-violent activism, and the rights and aspirations of all peoples in the Middle East. However, he occasionally comes across as hesitant in terms of recommending clear action on such issues. For example, he is reluctant to take a tougher stance vis-à-vis Middle East dictatorships; he is also unsure about pursuing sanctions against human rights violators. Under Angus, the NDP’s Middle East policies would likely not regress, but the party would likely create little concrete pressure for Canada to play a more constructive and progressive role in the region.
CJPME’s Assessment of NDP Candidates
The leader of the NDP plays a significant role in shaping public discourse and policy on Canada and the Middle East. Since 2004, both Liberal and Conservative governments have taken foreign policy positions on the Israel-Palestine conflict which have largely favour successive right-wing Israeli governments at the expense of Palestinian human rights. As an opposition voice, the NDP could play a key role in high-lighting such double-standards. Even more significantly, an NDP government could reverse previous policies, and bring some much-needed balance and humanitarian focus to Canada's Middle East policies.
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has therefore carefully assessed each leadership candidate’s positions on the Middle East, taking into account the following:
- Their response to an CJPME-IJV questionnaire on Middle East policy
- Actions or statements on public record through July 15, 2017 focusing on issues including:
- Canada's relations with Middle Eastern countries
- Canada's arms trade
- Canada's policy on Israel-Palestine
- Free speech, criticism of Israel, the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, and related issues
- Israel's settlements and their impact on the negotiations process
- Options on resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict
- The blockade of Gaza
- Comments, actions or statements from all sources were considered:
- Comments from the Parliamentary record (i.e. the Hansard)
- Positions or comments communicated via the Internet or Social Media
- Comments in candidates' meetings
- Comments noted or recorded by all media
- Comments made during the NDP leadership debates through July 15
The candidate evaluations below are presented in alphabetical order.
Profile – Charlie Angus
Charlie Angus has been the Member of Parliament for the Ontario riding of Timmins-JamesBay since 2004, announcing his candidacy for the NDP leadership in November 2016. Prior to his election, he worked as an author, musician, and Indigenous negotiator. He has held a number of caucus roles, most importantly as Caucus Chair and Indigenous Affairs Critic. Angus has sought to position himself as the candidate for working-class Canadians, with a desire to fight their scepticism and distrust in politics.
Throughout his career, Angus has become highly associated with certain progressive issues: the abuses by waste management corporations, the needs of Toronto’s homeless, and indigenous peoples’ rights. On this third issue, Angus published a book addressing Indigenous injustice in Canada and the government’s longstanding denial of basic rights, including education. During the Harper era, Angus frequently criticized the government for ignoring Indigenous peoples’ issues, with a particular focus on alleviating income disparity and poverty.
Angus’ campaign platform calls for environmental protection, economic equality, and reconciliation between the First Nations Peoples in Canada and the government.
Analysis – Charlie Angus
Charlie Angus is a passionate progressive politician who often uses colourful language in speeches and debate. However, Angus' responses to the Middle East CJPME-IJV questionnaire tended to be more reserved and cautious than some of his public statements on the same issues.
For example, Angus has spoken animatedly about Liberal and Conservative government failings in the control of arms sales, saying Canada needs to "ensure that when we sell weapons to countries [… they are] not just murdering, raping and torturing their own citizens." But in the CJPME-IJV questionnaire, while he called for "the utmost scrutiny" of our arms sales, he refrained from calling for full implementation of the tenets of the international Arms Trade Treaty. He also held back in terms of linking Canada's commercial and diplomatic relations to a country's human rights record.
On the question of Israel-Palestine, it is clear that Angus has a general sympathy for the human rights of Palestinians. He disagrees with Canada's current voting patterns at the UN which favour Israel, saying he supports resolutions which advance peace and which recognize the Palestinians' right to the "occupied territories." During Israel's 2014 war on Gaza, Angus tweeted, "Our thuggish prime minister pumps his chest while people die in Gaza…" On another occasion, Angus admonished Israel for its expansion of its illegal settlements, arguing that Israel's "move […] to take Palestinian land for illegal settlements must be opposed. Canada has a role to play in pushing for justice."
To be fair, in his CJPME-IJV questionnaire response, Angus admits that Israel's settlements are the "biggest obstacle to lasting peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. However, as a Canadian response, he only recommends changes to Canada's labelling practices for products from Israel's illegal settlements. In fact, this seems to be as far as Angus might go in terms of penalizing Israel for its human rights abuses against Palestinians. In his questionnaire response, he opposed any type of sanction on Israel, arguing that any sanctions would inevitably be counter-productive.
Angus was outspoken against the February, 2016 Parliamentary motion to condemn the BDS movement. He made impassioned statements against the motion on the basis of freedom of expression, but nevertheless admitted, "I do not know if [BDS] is a tactic that I approve of." His CJPME-IJV questionnaire response was similar: he opposes legislative condemnations of BDS, but makes no statement in support of the principles or tactic of BDS. Like the other federal NDP leadership candidates, Angus voted against the anti-BDS motion.
Angus is solidly opposed to Islamophobia, on record several times castigating the Harper government for demonizing Muslim Canadians. His CJPME-IJV questionnaire response supported this position, bewailing the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment, and highlighting the danger that violent right-wing groups represent. Like the other federal NDP MPs, Angus voted in support of motion M-103 in Parliament.
Overall, Angus is a decent politician who has been outspoken on many progressive issues, including many Middle East issues. At the same time, he occasionally seems reluctant to expend political capital on some of the core justice issues which CJPME tracks. As such, CJPME considers his candidacy a B.
Profile – Niki Ashton
Niki Ashton has been the Member of Parliament for the riding of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski in Manitoba since 2008, announcing her leadership bid in March 2017. Prior to her election, she worked as a university instructor in Manitoba, and is presently completing her PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies. Ashton has served as the NDP Critic for many different departments, including Jobs, Employment & Workforce Development (2015–2017), Status of Women (2012–2015) and Aboriginal Affairs (2015).
Niki Ashton portrays herself as the NDP candidate for the young, marginalized and ethnic Canadians facing discrimination. She believes the NDP must work to reconnect with activists and grassroots social movements.
Ashton's platform is focused around the need for social justice, environmental justice, and economic justice. As such, in her platform Ashton recommends greater investment in healthcare, mental health services and dental care rather than defence. In addition, she advocates greater investment in green technologies, including public transit and green infrastructure renovations. She proposes to create wealth and counter seasonal work by investing in local economies and natural resources.
Analysis – Niki Ashton
For years, Niki Ashton has consistently taken forthright stances on Middle East issues promoting policies that support human rights and with international law. In addition to her various statements on record over many years, all of Ashton’s CJPME-IJV questionnaire answers indicate a strong commitment to international law, multilateralism, and the upholding of human rights.
Ashton speaks unhesitantly when referring to Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians. She speaks openly about the need to end "the occupation of Palestinian lands" and "an end to the abuse of Palestinians' human rights." On her own, Ashton has called for an end to the blockade of Gaza, and the respect of the human rights of Palestinian prisoners. In the Montreal youth leadership debates, Ashton decried the dismissal of pro-Palestinian candidates in the party, a practice that occurred prior to the 2015 election.
Ashton's public comments on Israel-Palestine are bolstered in her response to the CJPME-IJV questionnaire. In the questionnaire, for example, Ashton takes a very tough stance on what she herself refers to as Israel's "illegal settlements," and points out herself that UN Security Council resolution 2334 (Dec. 2016) called for a distinction between products from Israel proper, and products from Israel's settlements. Going further, Ashton would support an outright ban on goods from Israeli settlements, because doing business with them is "illegal under international law." She also expresses openness to sanctions on Israel as it "consistently fails to meet international law," particularly in relation to "the occupation" of Palestinian land, to "put strategic pressure on the Israeli government." As per the questionnaire, Ashton also opposes Canada's voting pattern on the conflict at the UN – a pattern in which successive Canadian governments have sought to deflect criticism of Israel for its human rights abuses.
Ashton is supportive of the BDS movement, and believes the government should take steps to support BDS. In her CJPME-IJV questionnaire answer, she points out that similar tactics worked against the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and that BDS could help bring about a just resolution of the conflict. Like the other federal NDP leadership candidates, Ashton voted against the anti-BDS motion of February, 2016.
On other topics, Ashton is a fervent supporter of stronger international controls on the arms trade. She has taken the Trudeau government to task on the Saudi arms deal, and supports full accession to the international Arms Trade Treaty. Whether on Israel-Palestine, or other countries, Ashton has been consistent in her campaign that human rights need to play in integral role in Canada's foreign policy.
Like all the NDP leadership candidates, she opposes the rising tide of Islamophobia in Canada. To a question on Islamophobia, Ashton stated, "We have to call out hate, and we have to be on the front line of that struggle." She adds, "We also need to push forward in terms of addressing the structural barriers that many face in our society." Like the other federal NDP MPs, Ashton voted in support of motion M-103 in Parliament.
Because Ashton has been consistently outspoken for years in support of many of the core issues tracked by CJPME, CJPME considers her candidacy an A+.
Profile – Guy Caron
Guy Caron has been the Member of Parliament for the Quebec riding of Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques since 2011, announcing his leadership bid in February 2017. Prior to his election, Caron worked as a researcher, economist, media relations officer and a journalist. Caron has served as NDP Finance Critic (2015–2017), Quebec Caucus Chair (2011–2017), and NDP Critic for Industry (2011–2012).
With academic training in both Communications and Economics, Caron promotes an agenda based on sustainable development and strategic international trade deals. Caron’s most significant policy proposal would be a complementary basic income, a progressive tax code that promotes productivity and a plan to counter tax evasion. As a progressive economist, he recommends transitioning to a renewable-based economy in order to secure the job market, while fighting inequality and instability.
Analysis – Guy Caron
In his leadership campaign, as in his parliamentary career, Guy Caron has sought foremost to present himself as a candidate with strong economic credentials. Nevertheless, while he has not sought to distinguish himself on foreign policy, his answers to the questions on the CJPME-IJV questionnaire reflect a commitment to balanced, principled policies on the Middle East.
Given his focus on economics, one might expect Caron to give commercial concerns priority over social concerns. Caron's public statements and CJPME-IJV questionnaire responses, however, demonstrated a strong commitment to human rights: he is willing to modulate commercial relationships with Middle East dictatorships as a function of human rights. He is also willing to improve transparency in the Canada-U.S. arms market in order to fully accede to the international Arms Trade Treaty. In fact, in 2012, he pushed the Harper government to sign the ATT, and in March of this year he again emphasized the need to factor human rights into trade deals.
Caron has not said much publicly about the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, on the CJPME-IJV questionnaire, Caron rejects Canada's pro-Israel bias at the UN. He is also clearly uncomfortable with Israel's settlements in the Palestinian territories. His questionnaire responses indicate that he does not support an outright ban on goods originating in Israel's settlements, although he might consider adjustments to labelling and/or the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. He is also not committed to general sanctions against Israel for its human rights abuses, although he might consider certain targeted sanctions.
On the question of BDS, Caron strongly supports Canadians' right to express their political views, whether through boycotting or other peaceful means. On this point, he said, "I'm proud to have voted against a Conservative motion that sought to condemn the BDS movement." However, Caron goes on to say that he's not sure BDS is a "constructive" way to address the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Caron has been very inclusive in his approach to the issue of Islamophobia. He recently criticized comments by Quebec premier Philippe Couillard which linked “Islam in general” to terror. Caron upbraided Couillard for these comments he considered "irresponsible." Like the other federal NDP MPs, Caron voted in support of motion M-103 in Parliament.
Caron has taken decent positions on many of the core issues tracked by CJPME. For a candidate highly focused on economic issues, Caron is refreshingly progressive. Overall, CJPME considers his candidacy a B+.
Profile – Jagmeet Singh
Jagmeet Singh has been the Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament for Bramalea—Gore—Malton since 2011, announcing his candidacy for leadership of the federal NDP in May 2017. Singh was appointed Deputy Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party in 2015 and has served as the NDP Critic for the Attorney General of Ontario and for Consumer Services.
Prior to his election to the Ontario Parliament, Singh worked as a criminal defence lawyer. He offered pro bono services to ensure the protection of Charter rights and to fight against increasing levels of poverty and rising tuition fees. Since his election, Singh has called on the provincial government to strengthen police accountability and reduce auto insurance premiums.
As his first policy platform, Singh would review Canada’s labour laws in order to address inequality, income security and taxation. He would also like to introduce policies that seek to ensure the fair treatment of indigenous communities, workers, families, disabled persons, and seniors. Finally, Singh has proposed environmental policies that would reduce Canada’s carbon emissions and implement environmental accountability measures.
Analysis – Jagmeet Singh
Jagmeet Singh’s public statements and responses to the CJPME-IJV questionnaire reflect a solid commitment to human rights, international law and related concerns. While international issues are less prominent in the Ontario legislature where Singh is an MPP, he has nonetheless spoken out on a number of issues.
As revealed in the CJPME-IJV questionnaire, Singh takes firm pro-justice stances on many of the issues: he supports giving human rights high importance in Canada's international dealings with Middle Eastern governments. He also opposes the pro-Israel voting pattern established at the UN by successive Liberal and Conservative governments. He also supports Canada’s full accession to the international Arms Trade Treaty, even if it would require Canada to tweak the reporting on its arms trade with the U.S.
On the question of Israel-Palestine, Singh's responses to the CJPME-IJV questionnaire demonstrate that he takes a highly critical view of Israel's human rights abuses, particularly Israel's settlements. Singh is willing to support "mandatory labelling of products" from Israeli settlements, and would exclude such products from the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA.) He is even willing to consider an outright ban on products from Israel's settlements. He also states that he "would consider" the use of targeted sanctions against Israel overall in response to its human rights abuses.
Singh strongly opposed a motion in the Ontario legislature which called for the House to "stand firmly" against the BDS movement. In his speech, Singh mentioned the "serious concerns with respect to the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people," but based his arguments on the question of freedom of expression.
During his tenure in the Ontario Legislature, Singh repeatedly raised concerns about growing Islamophobia in Ontario, as well as the rest of Canada. Singh supports identifying Islamophobia as a specific form of racism, and believes the government must work to eradicate fear and prejudice against the members of the Muslim community through educational campaigns. This attitude is reflected in his CJPME-IJV questionnaire response, where he agrees that Islamophobia is a huge threat in Canada right now, and that special attention must be devoted to ensure the protection of the rights of Muslim-Canadians.
Singh has taken solid positions on many of the core issues tracked by CJPME, although he doesn't always address the human rights issues head on, and his track record is brief. As such, CJPME considers his candidacy an A-.
Comprehensive Assessment Ranking
Given the above analysis and discussion, CJPME's summary rating for each of the candidates is as follows:
A+ Niki Ashton
A- Jagmeet Singh
B+ Guy Caron
B Charlie Angus
Additional findings about the candidates, via their statements, interviews, speeches, and related can be found in the section below. The detailed responses from each of the candidates to the CJPME-IJV questionnaire can be found at the end of this document.
Candidates' Public Statements on Core Issues
The below section documents relevant statements from the public record by each of the NDP leadership candidates. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
- During the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014, he wrote on Twitter, “Our thuggish prime minister pumps his chest while people die in Gaza. He may think there are votes to be had by cheering on Netanyahu from the sidelines, but leadership is about trying to find ways to lessen the conflict.”[i]
- On Canada’s arms exports: “I did not hear a single word about what the government will do to ensure we are not just selling weapons to countries that rape and kill their citizens…it is the role of Parliament to ensure we stand up for something once in a while and ensure that when we sell weapons to countries, they are indeed allies that are sharing our values and not just murdering, raping and torturing their own citizens.”[ii] He seeks to develop a committee charged with overseeing the sale of arms to prevent violations of international standards of human rights.
- On the Saudi Arms deal: “Saudi Arabia, which is completely destabilized in the region, in terms of creating a conflict, the Sunni-Shiite proxy wars in Yemen, in northern Iraq. Canada is sending billions of dollars in military aid to Saudi Arabia that is already being used on the ground. Our weapons are being used in the Yemeni war, on both sides. The Saudi human rights record is horrific.”[iii] Again in relation to Saudi Arabia, he stated, “If we cannot deal with terror regimes like that, which are killing people now, then all of these other issues that we talk about mean nothing.”[iv]
- During the February 2016 BDS debate, Mr. Angus made several comments. Here are a few examples: 1) “I do not know if this [BDS] is a tactic I approve of…” 2) “What is very disturbing is that the Liberals and Conservatives agree that as parliamentarians we should denounce students, intervene in universities, and attack individuals over an issue about the Middle East, as opposed to discussing where we need to be on the Middle East…” 3) "If we are not willing to stand up for the right to dissent, the right to protest, the right to engage in discussion about what is good policy in another country, then the House is a much shabbier place as a result of these really distasteful wedge issues.”[v] Angus voted against the motion to condemn BDS activists.[vi]
- Issued a strong statement in response to Canada’s silence regarding Israeli settlement expansion by tweeting on December 29th, 2016: “Move by Netanyahu regime to take Palestinian land for illegal settlements must be opposed. Canada has role to play in pushing for justice.”[vii]
- He believes that Canada has a role to play in trying to broker negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authority. He has asked, “what steps should we take in this Parliament to talk about bringing peace for our friends in Israel, to ensure secure borders, to ensure the two-state solution for dealing with the tragedy of Gaza, and to ensure the importance of Canada on the international stage, which has been abdicated by the Conservatives and squandered by the Liberals?”[viii]
- On Islamophobia, Angus expressed outrage to the "politics of hate" used by the Harper government to demonize Muslim Canadians: "Among Canada's media pundits I read all manner of "analysis" of Harper's strategy of demonizing Muslim Canadian women. They write with a superficial disconnect as if this were about scoring points and the election is a game. Meanwhile my volunteers are talking with people who tell us: "the refugees aren't human -- they are fucking animals who can go back to where they fucking came from." "This election is far from done but I have seen face of Canada that will take some time to come to terms with. The ease with which Harper used the politics of hate to change the channel on his political problems is a life lesson worth taking to heart."[ix]
- Supports international law and policies of non-intervention, with the exception of military missions that are mandated and supported by the UN or NATO: "On ISIL and intervention in the Middle East: "I would like to say that what concerns me here is that we have, once again, a reactive policy about a region that is the most explosive in the world. This has been the unfortunate response over the last dozen or so years of not having a proactive, clear direction. It has put our soldiers in harm's way and it has added to the destabilization of an already crisis-ridden region... we are not there [in Iraq] under a UN mandate."[x]
- She believes her party “must be a voice for human rights.”[xi]
- Decried the NDP’s purge of pro-Palestinian candidates in the 2015 federal election campaign, calling these actions “totally unacceptable”[xii]: “I was disappointed to see candidates turfed last election on their position on Human Rights and Palestine, we need to recognise Trudeau's government plays with nominations.”[xiii]
- In reference to the Saudi arms deal she says: “It is not feminist[xiv] to sell arms to countries that have appalling human rights records, to states that regularly abuse the rights of women. It is not feminist to sell arms to countries that execute people because they are gay or members of the LGBTQ community. Many women and men across Canada want to see the government live up to the values it espouses.”[xv]
- She has repeatedly called on the government to improve its arms control mechanisms and refrain from engaging in business deals with regimes that commit human rights abuses: “Polls show that most Canadians disapprove of arms deals with human rights abusers. Now it is true that the deal with Saudi Arabia was signed under the previous government. However, we know that the current government has not changed that approach. So much for the slogan of real change.”[xvi]
- Ashton voted against the motion to condemn BDS activists.[xvii]
- Ashton has called for an end to the Israeli blockade on Gaza: "Today marks three years since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, the 50-day Israeli military offensive on Gaza. Gazans are facing a crisis that has left them without electricity for weeks on end. This is regrettably only an episode of the dwindling humanitarian situation in Gaza that has been going on for a decade. For it to be truly resolved, Israel's illegal blockade must end." [xviii]
- On Canada’s role on the international stage and negotiations between Israel and Palestine: “I would say Canada has to be a voice for peace and justice around the world. This includes being a voice for peace and for diplomacy in Palestine. We have to be clear that the occupation of Palestinian lands must end. And we have to put an end to the abuse of Palestinians’ human rights. As the NDP, we have to be a strong voice for justice for the Palestinian people.”[xix] “Canada must return to its traditional role, supporting a balanced position and a just peace in the Middle East.”[xx]
- During the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in the spring of 2017, Ashton spoke out in support of the human rights of such prisoners: "It [is] also powerful to join many at a rally in solidarity with those on hunger strike in Palestine today. The NDP must be a voice for human rights, for peace and justice in the Middle East."[xxi] She also states, " Many, including the Canadian Labour Congress and Amnesty International, have shown their support for the hunger strikers who are opposing inhumane conditions. As someone who is completing a PhD in Peace and Conflict studies it is clear to me that one must speak out in the face of injustice, whether here at home or abroad." [xxii]
- Was present and spoke in support of Nakba demonstration in Montreal on May 16th, 2017 to recognize the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands and homes in 1948 (known to Palestinians in Arabic as the Nakba).[xxiii]
- In an April 2017 interview, she put forth her support for justice in Palestine: “Canada has to be a voice for peace and justice around the world. This includes being a voice for peace and for diplomacy in Palestine. We have to be clear that the occupation of Palestinian lands must end. And we have to put an end to the abuse of Palestinians’ human rights. As the NDP, we have to be a strong voice for justice for the Palestinian people.”[xxiv] Similarly: “Martin Luther King talked about the need for people to fight for justice and I was thinking about that in recent weeks where I was talking about the injustice to the Palestinian people.”[xxv]
- Travelled to Israel on a CIJA-sponsored trip in 2012.[xxvi] CIJA is a powerful Canadian pro-Israel lobby group.
- Advocates the inclusion of international standards of human rights into trade agreements.[xxvii]
- In 2012, Caron signed on to a letter with other MPs calling on Stephen Harper to sign the Arms Trade Treaty.[xxviii]
- Caron voted in favour of anti-Islamophobia motion M-103. He made a point to differentiate Islam from terrorism in his admonishment of Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard for “irresponsible” comments suggesting otherwise.”[xxix]
- Concerning the recognition of ISIS’ crimes as genocide: “If we take the declaration of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, we see that genocides are acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. I think that for most people, this meets the definition. Therefore, can we not go along with this motion by giving the government direction to act in accordance with the perspective of the United Nations for recognizing this crime as a genocide and to take action accordingly in the United Nations?”[xxx]
- During an interview, in answer to a question on BDS, Caron stated, "I’m proud to have voted against a Conservative motion that sought to condemn the BDS movement. I’m just not sure, in my eyes, that BDS is the most constructive way to try and intervene in what’s happening in the Middle East. I’ve been to Israel. I’ve also been to the West Bank, where I had a chance to speak to Israelis and to Palestinians, and I see a link with what has happened in Canada." [xxxi]
- On the growth of Israeli settlements, Caron stated in an interview, "There are progressive Israelis who want to work towards the same goals that we want as a progressive, social democratic party. For example, ending the colonization of the occupied territories and working towards a two-state solution."[xxxii]
- Singh travelled to Israel in January, 2017 (along with 7 other Ontario MPPs) hosted by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), a powerful Canadian pro-Israel lobby group.[xxxiii]
- Singh has repeatedly addressed the need to tackle Islamophobia in Canada: “We need to identify Islamophobia as a specific form of racism. It’s a form of racism which has specifically targeted a community, and that has been very hurtful. Naming an injustice is the way you address the injustice. The fact that there is a clear attack on a particular community, a broad-stroke attack on a religion, is hurtful to our society in a holistic sense, in a general sense, and it’s also very painfully damaging to that specific community.”[xxxiv]
- Singh voted against[xxxv] the Ontario Legislature’s motion to condemn BDS activists, reaffirming the rights of Canadians to oppose the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people. During the debate he argued, “in a free and democratic society, peaceful advocacy directed toward a government or its policies must never be silenced.”[xxxvi]
- Singh is on record making a distinction between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, stating in the Ontario legislature, “We can’t be distracted by conflating the criticism of a government’s policies, of a government itself, and the criticism of a people, of a religion, of a faith, of an ethnicity.” "We must similarly separate the criticism of the government of Israel or its policies from criticism of its people. That distinction must be made. That should never be conflated. A criticism of a country or its policies, particularly its government, should never mean it’s a criticism of the people of that country or the ethnicity or the religion of that country."[xxxvii]
- In the same speech, Singh is also on record as highlighting the human rights abuses suffered by the Palestinians, "There are serious concerns with respect to the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people. We must support the freedom to raise these concerns. People have that right, and we should support people’s right to do that." [xxxviii]
- Again, in the same speech, concerning BDS, Singh argues, “In a free and democratic society, peaceful advocacy directed toward a government or its policies must never be silenced.” "We cannot support [an anti-BDS] motion which, in effect, seeks to ban the right to dissent. That is one of the most fundamental rights of any society: the ability to raise your voice in opposition, your ability to criticize, your ability to have dissent. The right to criticize, the right to raise awareness, the right to advocate for a marginalized people is something that we must protect."[xxxix]
[i] “John Baird condemns Hamas rejection of ceasefire with Israel.” CBC. July 15, 2014. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/john-baird-condemns-hamas-rejection-of-ceasefire-with-israel-1.2707646
[ii] Angus, Charlie. “Opposition Motion – Creation of a Standing Committee on Arms Exports Review.” Legislative Debates (Hansard). 42nd Parl., 1st Sess. September 29, 2016. https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-84/hansard
[iv] Angus, Charlie. “Opposition Motion – Cuba.” Legislative Debates (Hansard). 42nd Parl., 1st Sess. December 1, 2016. https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-119/hansard
[v] Angus, Charlie. “Opposition Motion – Israel.” Legislative Debates (Hansard). 42nd Parl., 1st Sess. February 18th, 2016. http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-20/hansard.
[vi] Vote No. 14, “Opposition Motion – Israel.” Vote Details, 42nd Parl., 1st Sess. February 22nd, 2016. http://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/votes/42/1/14/.
[vii] Charlie Angus NDP. “Move by Netanyahu regime to take Palestinian land for illegal settlements must be opposed. Canada has role to play in pushing for justice.” Twitter. February 9th, 2017. https://twitter.com/CharlieAngusNDP/status/829662209735278592.
[viii] Angus, Charlie. “Opposition Motion – Israel.” Legislative Debates (Hansard). 42nd Parl., 1st Sess. February 18th, 2016. http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-20/hansard
[ix] Facebook post, Charlie Angus, https://www.facebook.com/charlie.angusndp/posts/1481967438773223
[x] Angus, Charlie. “Government Business – Motion No. 17.” Legislative Debates (Hansard). 41st Parl., 2nd Sess. March 30th, 2015. Online. https://openparliament.ca/debates/2016/2/24/charlie-angus-1/?page=6
[xi] “Ashton taken to task for Palestinian post.” Winnipeg Sun. May 19th, 2017. http://www.winnipegsun.com/2017/05/19/ashton-taken-to-task-for-palestinian-post.
[xii] “Fightback Interviews Niki Ashton.” Fightback. June 28, 2017. http://www.marxist.ca/canada/federal/1230-fightback-interviews-niki-ashton.html.
[xiii] NDP Debate: Montreal. March 26, 2017, 1:05:46, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2c_9HJ3WwY&feature=youtu.be&t=1h5m46s
[xiv] Note that Ashton is referring to the Trudeau government's declaration that it was going to implement a "feminist foreign policy." In the cited quote, Ashton is disputing that Trudeau's actions were in any way progressive or constructive.
[xv] Ashton, Niki. “Opposition Motion - Creation of a Standing Committee on Arms Exports Review.” Legislative Debates (Hansard). September 29th, 2016. https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-84/hansard.
[xvii] Vote No. 14, “Opposition Motion – Israel.” Vote Details, 42nd Parl., 1st Sess. February 22nd, 2016. http://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/votes/42/1/14/
[xix] “Interview: Niki Ashton on why the NDP need to reconnect with social movements.” Ricochet. April 13th, 2017. https://ricochet.media/en/1762/interview-niki-ashton-on-why-the-ndp-needs-to-reconnect-with-social-movements
[xx] Niki Ashton, “A just peace in the Middle East.” Niki Ashton 2017. http://www.nikiashton2017.ca/a-just-peace-in-the-middle-east-une-paix-juste-au-moyen-orient/
[xxi] Facebook post, Niki Ashton campaign Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MPNikiAshton/posts/1461778860564017
[xxii] "A Just Peace in the Midde East," Niki Ashton 2017 Campaign Website, http://www.nikiashton2017.ca/a-just-peace-in-the-middle-east-une-paix-juste-au-moyen-orient/
[xxiii] “Ashton taken to task for Palestinian post.” Winnipeg Sun. May 19th, 2017. http://www.winnipegsun.com/2017/05/19/ashton-taken-to-task-for-palestinian-post
[xxiv] “Interview: Niki Ashton on why the NDP need to reconnect with social movements.” Ricochet. April 13th, 2017. https://ricochet.media/en/1762/interview-niki-ashton-on-why-the-ndp-needs-to-reconnect-with-social-movements
[xxv] NDP Debate: Sudbury. May 28, 2017, 36:53. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6KueMDKikE
[xxvi] "List of Sponsored Travel Presented to the House of Commons: 2012," Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Canada, March 2013, http://ciec-ccie.parl.gc.ca/Documents/English/Public%20Reports/Sponsored%20Travel/2012%20Sponsored%20Travel%20List.pdf
[xxvii] “Guy Caron says he can bring economic cred to the NDP.” The Tyee. March 15th, 2017. https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/03/15/Guy-Caron-NDP/
[xxviii] “Canada and the Arms Trade Treaty.” OXFAM. June 2012. https://www.oxfam.ca/sites/default/files/Control%20Arms%20Press%20Pack%20Eng.pdf
[xxix] “Guy Caron lashes out at Couillard over Islam comments.” iPolitics. June 23rd, 2017. http://ipolitics.ca/2017/06/23/guy-caron-lashes-out-at-couillard-over-islam-comments/
[xxx] Caron, Guy. “Opposition Motion – Internal Trade.” Legislative Debates (Hansard). 42nd Parl., 1st Sess. June 14th, 2016. http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-72/hansard
[xxxi] “Interview: Guy Caron on basic income and rebuilding the NDP in Quebec.” Ricochet. April 5th, 2017. https://ricochet.media/en/1752/interview-guy-caron-on-basic-income-and-rebuilding-the-ndp-in-quebec.
[xxxii] “Interview: Guy Caron on basic income and rebuilding the NDP in Quebec.” Ricochet. April 5th, 2017. https://ricochet.media/en/1752/interview-guy-caron-on-basic-income-and-rebuilding-the-ndp-in-quebec.
[xxxiii] Kleinsteuber, Nicole, “MPP Smith Returns from Outreach Trip to Israel," QuinteNews Online, Jan. 17, 2017. http://www.quintenews.com/2017/01/mpp-smith-returns-outreach-trip-israel/137570/
[xxxiv] Jagmeet Singh. “Anti-Racism Act 2017.” Ontario Hansard. April 26, 2017. http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2017-04-26&Parl=41&Sess=2&locale=en#P251_14069
[xxxv] "Official Records for 1 December 2016: Votes and Proceedings: Private Members' Public Business" Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Dec. 1, 2016. http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?locale=en&Date=2016-12-1&detailPage=/house-proceedings/votes-and-proceedings/files_html/038_December_01_2016_Votes.htm#tidyout
[xxxvi] Jagmeet Singh. “Support for Israel.” Ontario Hansard. December 1st, 2016. http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2016-12-1&Parl=41&Sess=2&locale=en
[xxxvii] Jagmeet Singh. “Support for Israel.” Ontario Hansard. December 1st, 2016. http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?Date=2016-12-1&Parl=41&Sess=2&locale=en