For many years, Canada’s foreign policy decisions, especially when it comes to the Middle East, have been out of touch with what Canadians want their government to do.  As such, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has developed the Middle East New Deal (MEND) to work as an agenda for election candidates, as a guide for constituents to talk to their representatives, and as a guide for voters to get their candidates thinking about and committing to justice and peace in the Middle East. Whether it be Israel-Palestine, Saudi Arabia, or any other issue in the Middle East, Canadians deserve to have their opinions voiced and their wishes exercised by their representative government on the international stage. As such, MEND aims to be a comprehensive document, drafted in accordance with International Law, for the Canadian government to adopt policies working towards long-lasting justice and peace in the region.

Click here to access CJPME's Middle East New Deal.


Make the Middle East a Nuclear-Free Zone

The proposal for the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East was formally introduced by Iran and Egypt in a resolution submitted to the UN General Assembly in 1974. This UN resolution initiated the global push for nuclear disarmament in the region. In 1995, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference adopted a resolution which called upon states to take the necessary measures to ensure the establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East. Despite officially supporting the creation of a NWFZ in the Middle East, Canada has consistently voted against resolutions that call upon Israel to sign the NPT and dismantle its nuclear weapons program. It has also repeatedly blocked resolutions calling for a regional conference on the establishment of a NWFZ. Canada should play a more active role in advancing negotiations on a NWFZ in the Middle East. Instead of blocking attempts to convene a conference on this matter, Canada should lead the push for disarmament in the region. Canada should leverage its relationship with Israel in order to encourage its participation in disarmament negotiations.  Continue reading

Cease Arms Sales to Autocratic Governments

In recent years, Canada has soared in global rankings to become the second largest arms dealer to the Middle East. Its position as such is largely owed to its $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia—the largest military contract in Canadian history. Aside from Saudi Arabia, Canada also sells a considerable amount annually in defence and security equipment to Egypt ($2.8 million in 2017) and the United Arab Emirates ($6.3 million in 2017). Each of these countries has been deemed “not free” by watchdog organization Freedom House, with Saudi Arabia ranking among the worst of the worst on human rights. Nonetheless, the Canadian government has continued to sell weapons and military technology to these autocratic regimes. In order to comply fully with the requirements outlined in the Arms Trade Treaty, Canada must cancel what is left of its $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Liberal Party cannot condemn Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses while simultaneously arming the very same regime. Continue reading

Oppose all Illegal Use of Force in the Middle East - Esp. Yemen

The UN Charter prohibits the “threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Exceptions are made only when the UN security council (UNSC) authorizes military action or when it is in self-defence. Although some countries talk about eliminating a threat before it manifests itself – “anticipatory self-defence” – this is only justified “when danger posed is instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen – with US and UK support – does not have the necessary UNSC authorization for military force; nor was it justified by anticipatory self-defence. Canada ought to be vocally critical of its allies’ illegal actions within the region. Canada ought to also be vocally skeptical of allies’ use of Right to Protect principles to justify the use of force in the Middle East. Continue reading

Oppose Trump’s Biased “Deal of the Century”

For the past two years, President Trump has been touting the release of his Middle East peace plan, which he has dubbed the ‘Deal of the Century.’ Trump has brazenly promoted this agreement as the blueprint to end the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Frustrated with Trump’s pro-Israel bias, the Palestinian leadership withdrew from talks in 2017, but that did not deter the Trump administration and the Israelis from foraging ahead. Given this context, it is safe to assume that Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ will be a complete capitulation to Israeli designs for the region. It also fails to live up to the long-quoted promise of a two-state solution. For this reason, it is important that the Canadian government take a principled stance against this deal, if and when it is released. Officially, Canada is committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East as per a two-state solution. It is imperative that Canada stand by these policies. Continue reading

Balance Canada’s Use of Sanctions

Sanctions are limitations that one country or a coalition of countries place on another country and, occasionally, on specific individuals. States typically use sanctions as a means of signaling their disapproval of another state or individual’s behavior or policies. The sanctions imposed by Global Affairs on these parties encompass a variety of measures, including trade restrictions, technical assistance prohibitions, asset freezes, and arms embargoes. In the past decade, the Canadian government has become progressively more proactive in its use of sanctions. Since then, Canada has increasingly used sanctions as a foreign policy tool, unilaterally (and sometimes selectively) applying them to states or individuals for violations of international law. Canada purportedly uses sanctions to respond to international crises, violations of peace and security, and gross violations of human rights. It must apply this policy equitably, without bias. Canada must not penalize some states’ behavior (e.g. Russia, Iran), while ignoring others (e.g. Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.) Continue reading

Join the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is the first legally binding international agreement that seeks to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. The treaty, which opened for signature in September 2017, prohibits signatory states from developing, testing, producing, acquiring, possessing or using nuclear weapons. Canada is a non-nuclear weapon state and has never had its own nuclear weapons program. As a non-nuclear weapon signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Canada gradually terminated its nuclear weapons cooperation with the US. However, despite being a key player in the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, Canada has refused to sign the TPNW. Canada should affirm its own official policy on non-proliferation and disarmament by signing and ratifying the TPNW. As a non-nuclear weapon state, Canada has nothing to lose by ratifying this treaty. If Canada is truly committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons, it cannot abstain from signing this treaty. Continue reading

Improve Canadian Arms Control Regime

The Arms Trade Treaty, which entered into force in December 2014, is the first global, legally binding instrument to regulate the international trade in conventional arms. In April 2017, the Trudeau government introduced legislation to enable Canada to join the ATT. Bill C-47, the proposed legislation, set out amendments to the existing Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA) in order to bring Canada into compliance with the Treaty.  While joining the ATT is a positive step for Canada, Bill C-47 is deeply flawed and fails to comply with the treaty’s essential objective to “establish the highest possible common international standards” for regulating the arms trade. Seeing as Bill C-47 has already received royal assent, Canada must ensure that its export controls are strengthened through regulations and practice. The words of the ATT must be given their full and intended effect. If the government sincerely wishes to comply with the ATT, it will have to adapt its export practices in order to close the many loopholes that remain after Bill C-47. Continue reading

Improve Management of Canada’s “Terror List”

In response to the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Canadian government introduced the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). In keeping with the ATA, the government has maintained a list of terrorist entities since 2002. As of May 2019, there are 55 groups on Canada’s terror list. The next review is set for November 2020. Canada’s terror designation may simply align with an ally’s designation, without consideration of the focus of the terrorism activities.  In addition, Canada’s terror designation may ignore the fact that such organizations often have political wings which provide day-to-day social services, which are distinct from their militant wings.  Also, regardless of Canada’s designation of certain groups, such groups often have an inevitable role to play in regional peace and stability. Canada should adopt a more consistent and nuanced approach to listing terrorist entities. This list should properly reflect current threats to Canadian security, and not merely be a list of global Islamist organizations. White nationalist groups and far-right organizations increasingly pose a threat to Canadian security, and this reality should be reflected in our terror list. Continue reading

Reform Canada’s Security Cooperation Framework

Canada has several agreements with other countries enabling the sharing of Canada’s national security information with its security partners. Notably, Canada is a member of the Five Eyes, and Canada also has its own security sharing agreement with Israel. Today, the Five Eyes consist of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with Israel as an observer. The Five Eyes alliance seeks to enhance national security of members via mass electronic surveillance and information gathering techniques. The Five Eyes alliance is ultra-secretive and member organizations operate with little governmental oversight. Canada must reform its own domestic security laws according to the CCLA and Public Safety Committee’s 2017 report to ensure that Canadians’ civil liberties are not violated via the actions of Canada’s security agencies. Similarly, Canada must ensure careful use of any security data or threat data provided by security partners – especially Israel and the US – to protect against potential political bias against immigrants to, or citizens of Canada. Continue reading

Reform Canada’s Extradition Laws

In October 2008, Hassan Diab, a Canadian citizen, was arrested by the RCMP at the request of French authorities. Diab was extradited to France, where he would stand trial for his alleged involvement in a synagogue bombing that killed four people in France in 1980. Incredibly, the case against him in France collapsed after Diab had already spent three years in French prison.  He was finally released in January 2018, after two judges in France dismissed the charges against him due to a lack of evidence. Furthermore, Canada’s extradition laws do not provide any safeguards against political interference. It is important that these laws be reformed so as to block any extradition requests that are politically motivated, and to prevent states from interfering in extradition hearings. Canada must reform its extradition law, given the flaws evident in the Hassan Diab and other cases. Canada should be able to cooperate with partner countries to combat transborder crime without infringing on the rights of Canadians. Evidence provided by foreign states should no longer be treated as “presumptively reliable.” Continue reading

Reform Canada’s National Security Law

In 2015, the Harper government passed the Anti-terrorism Act, also known as Bill C-51. This bill introduced sweeping changes to Canada’s national security legislation in an attempt to deal with the Conservative government’s perceived security concerns. Many journalists, scholars and security experts also questioned the constitutionality of the Bill, arguing that it jeopardized many of our most basic rights and freedoms and undermined our democracy. During the 2015 federal election, the Liberals campaigned on a promise to repeal the problematic aspects of Bill C-51. Having formed government, the Liberals introduced Bill C-59 in an attempt to fix the unconstitutional changes brought in by C-51. Overall, C-59 improves oversight and accountability, but also grants a range of troubling new powers for the various intelligence agencies, and fails to address some long-standing problems in Canadian national security law. The Canadian government must do its best to strike an appropriate balance between national security matters and rights-preservation. In order to do so, it should adopt stricter rules regarding the bulk acquisition of data. As it stands, any data that is “publicly available” is fair game for collection. Furthermore, dataset provisions make it legal for CSIS to retain this data long after it is necessary. Canadians need to be ensured that their data is not being unnecessarily collected and stored. Continue reading

End “Safe Third Country Agreement” with the US

Canada and the United States (US) signed the “safe third country agreement” (STCA) in 2002, an agreement that came into effect in 2004. Under the agreement, refugees seeking asylum are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in, unless they qualify for an exception. Many believe that the US' refugee policies and practices no longer comply with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and violate the human rights of refugees. Canada must condemn the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, and adapt its own policies in adherence with international refugee law. As well, Canada has a moral and legal obligation to grant "safe third country" status only to countries which properly respect the rights of asylum seekers. Continue reading

Resolve Accreditation Issues for Foreign-Born Professionals

Education and work experience are among the valuable assets new immigrants bring to Canada. Yet, immigrants face systematic employment barriers as their foreign-earned credentials and work experience are often not recognized in Canada. Non-recognition of foreign credentials and work experience by professional societies or employers can lead to an underutilization of the ‘human capital’ of many immigrants and can be discouraging and overwhelming to the individuals involved. Data released by Statistics Canada in 2015, showed a persistent wage gap between racialized Canadians and those who are white; confirming the discrimination in employment that leads to income inequality and disparities for many first and second-generation immigrants. As such, Canada needs to adopt a consistent and holistic framework to enable foreign-trained professionals to quickly enter the Canadian workforce. Such a program should eliminate province-specific barriers and ensure that foreign-trained professionals have easy access to certification programs. Continue reading

Support Electoral Reform

In 2015, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau committed to replacing Canada’s existing first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system as an election campaign promise. His campaign’s first speech promised action on electoral reform, promising that 2015 would be the last federal election under the FPTP electoral system. An all-party Parliamentary committee completed a national consultation in Dec. 2016 and published its findings in “The Report of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.” The committee found that among Canadians who wanted electoral reform, the majority preferred “proportional representation” (PR) – a system allocating Parliamentary seats based on overall vote percentages. The committee also recommended that no new system be implemented without a national referendum. As such, Canada should abandon its existing FPTP system for electing Parliamentarians and work towards an electoral system that ensures better representation of all voters. Continue reading

Make January 29th a National Day of Remembrance and Action

On January 29, 2017, a lone gunman entered a mosque in Quebec City and opened fire on dozens of Muslim Canadians during a prayer service. By the time the shooting had ended, six worshippers had been killed, and 19 more injured. The killer, Alexandre Bissonette, idolized right-wing commentators, mass shooters, and white supremacist leaders. He regularly expressed views that were ultraconservative, racist, and Islamophobic on forums and Facebook pages. In October 2018, the Canadian Muslim Forum (CMF) and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and the launched a campaign for the federal government to recognize January 29th as a “National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination.” The government must understand that if it is serious about its commitment to combatting Islamophobia, recognizing January 29th is a simple first step. If the government is unwilling to support this largely symbolic initiative, it cannot claim to defend and support Muslim Canadians. Continue reading

Commit $600 Million of Humanitarian Aid to the Rohingya Crisis

Since, August 25th, 2017 over 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from ethnic persecution by Myanmar security forces. The atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces include mass killings, sexual violence, and widespread arson, amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Canada has tried to address the humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya in various ways.  The House of Commons has voted to declare the Rohingya crisis as genocide. In addition, Canada has also imposed sanctions on eight Myanmar nationals involved in military operations. The Senate has voted to strip Myanmar civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary Canadian citizenship; she is the first person to be stripped of an honorary Canadian citizenship. Canada must agitate within the UN to ensure that the UNSC refers the situation in Myanmar to the ICC or establishes an ad hoc tribunal to ensure that those responsible are held accountable Continue reading

Provide more Canadian Funding to Palestinian Refugees

The UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) was created in 1949 to accommodate the 750,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes by Israel between 1947 and 1949. In the absence of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, generations of Palestinian refugees have been born stateless and still live their lives in limbo today. UNRWA currently serves over 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East. UNRWA’s budget of $1.2 billion goes to running schools (54%), health services (17%), and social and support services (25%). In 2018, the Trump administration ended its support for UNRWA which had historically accounted for about 1/3 of UNRWA’s budget. As the gavel-holder for the Refugee Working Group, Canada should work with its allies to initiate practical discussions about long- and short-term solutions for Palestinian refugees. Continue reading

Impose an Arms Embargo on Israel

Israel’s military-security industry relies heavily on trade and research collaboration with foreign governments. Israel also imports a vast amount of weapons and technology from allies abroad. These imported military goods, along with domestically-produced weapons, are then used to commit grave human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories. There are also numerous reports of Israeli military companies using attacks on Palestinians to test new weapons and technology. These weapons are then marketed as “field-tested” and sold to foreign governments. In 2011, the Palestinian BDS National Committee issued a call for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel. Canadian leaders should work closely with Western allies to impose an arms embargo. As was seen with the UN-mandated sanctions on South Africa in the 1970s, a multilateral arms embargo is more effective than a unilateral embargo.   Continue reading

Support Tarek Loubani’s Project for Gaza Hospital

Because of Israel’s withholding of fuel, the population of Gaza endures frequent and lengthy power outages, often lasting more than 16 hours a day. Patients in hospitals are especially vulnerable, where the availability of power can mean the difference between life and death. Palestinian-Canadian Dr. Tarek Loubani was shot in both legs by an Israeli sniper in June 2018 while treating Palestinian victims of Israeli sniper fire during demonstrations in Gaza. Dr. Loubani often travels to Gaza to provide medical services. After his recovery and return to Canada, he met with Prime Minister Trudeau and other MPs.  In these meetings, Loubani asked for $15 million from the Canadian government to support an initiative to install solar panels on the roofs of hospitals and medical clinics in Gaza to provide emergency power for public health facilities. As long as Israel maintains its military occupation of Palestinian territory, Canada should contribute to humanitarian initiatives which protect the most vulnerable Palestinians. Continue reading

Oppose Israeli and US Assassinations in the Middle East

Extrajudicial killings usually occur when governments target individuals via airstrikes, missile strikes, drone strikes or other mechanisms without attention to those individuals’ legal rights. Canada has allies which regularly carry out extrajudicial killings: the US carries them out in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and Israel carries them out against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  In 2004, for example, an Israeli drone strike killed 8 non-militant Palestinians while seeking to kill a member of Hamas without trial. Other than one incident in 2004, Canada has not condemned extrajudicial killings in the Middle East whether by US, UK, Israel or other allies. Canada ought to vocally condemn the use of targeted killings by allies and should consider developing an international ban on targeted killings, whether by drones, airstrikes, or missile strikes. Continue reading

Balance Canada’s Voting Record at the UN

The question of Palestine and related issues have been the subject of numerous resolutions adopted by the Assembly. In fact, every year, there are at least 16 General Assembly resolutions passed on the question of Palestine. These resolutions seek to affirm the right of Palestinians to self-determination, their sovereignty over natural resources, the illegality of Israeli settlements, and so forth. Especially since 2011, Canada’s voting at the UN seems intended to shield Israel from criticism for its human rights abuses against Palestinians. This pattern runs counter to Canada’s own official policy on Israel-Palestine. This pattern also puts Canada in a small losing minority at the UN. As such, Canada should adjust its voting in the UN General Assembly so as to bring it in line with its own official policy on Israel-Palestine. It should begin by supporting resolutions which 1) condemn illegal Israeli “settlements,” 2) support the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied Palestinian territory, and 3) oppose the illegal annexation of Jerusalem. Continue reading

Oppose Israel's Illegal "Settlements"

According to the majority of countries worldwide and the UN, the West Bank and Gaza should be the basis for a future Palestinian state.  Of course, the presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements represent a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Canada’s official policy on Israel-Palestine states that the “settlements” constitute a serious obstacle to peace. That being said, the Canadian government rarely condemns Israel’s illegal settlements and even has a free trade agreement with Israel which encompasses Israel’s settlements. As such, Canadian leaders must do their part to oppose the construction of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Canadian politicians must loudly condemn the settlement enterprise, and underscore that these settlements are a major impediment to peace. Continue reading

Pressure Israel Economically

Many have suggested that economic pressure may be a way to prompt Israel to curtail its human rights abuses against Palestinians.  There are many ways to accomplish this, including, but not limited to, the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society organizations to apply economic pressure on Israel. Canada has failed to impose any economic pressure on Israel to improve its human rights record. Rather, in 2018, the Canadian government introduced a modernized version of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, prolonging preferential trade agreements with Israel. Canadian leaders should refrain from disparaging the use of economic pressure tactics against Israel, and should instead reflect on the movements’ grassroots popularity and successes.   Continue reading