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 will aim 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. In the first draft, the issue of Israel-Palestine was focused on due to its pertinence and prominence on the international stage, as well as Canada’s long-held position of bias towards Israel, for over a decade now.

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


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

Stand by Canadian Policy and International Law in the Wake of Trump’s “Steal” 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

Update and Support the Regular Review of Countries/Individuals that Canada 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 on the Prohibition of 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

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

Update and Support the Regular Review of Organizations on 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

Review/Reform Canada’s Security Cooperation and Sharing Relationships

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 to Provide Better Protection for Canadian Citizens and Residents

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.[i] 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 for Asylum Seekers

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