The Canada-Israel Committee denounced, in a statement made public today in the House of Commons, the Canadian government’s “frequently reiterated commitment to combatting boycott-related discrimination” as “a cheap charade.”
The government of Canada presented its semiannual report on the implementation of its policy regarding international economic boycotts yesterday. “In the three years since Prime Minister Pierre-Elliot Trudeau stated that the boycott is alien to everything the government stands for,” the committee said, “concerned groups and individuals have attempted to persuade it that firm and explicit policies are needed to prevent serious infringement of Canadian sovereignty and human rights.” The committee said the government “has contented itself with meaningless statements and some half-hearted policy guidelines which have served to obscure the issues and confuse the corporate community.”
The committee said that “instead of showing more courage, the government of Canada has chosen to dodge the issue. In October, 1976, External Affairs Minister Don Jamieson gave us cause to hope when he announced a two-part program directed against international economic boycotts.”
The committee said that Jamieson then stated “that Canadian firms and individuals participating in such boycotts would be denied all government support or facilities, including the services of Canadian trade commissioners abroad, financing and market information. In addition, Jamieson promised that all companies receiving requests for boycott compliance would be required to report these requests to the government and that information, including the names of the companies involved, would be made public.”
But, the committee said, “when the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce released guidelines implementing this policy on Jan. 21 last year, they indicated a total abandonment of the reporting mechanism established by the policy statement and clearly suggested that the denial of government support or facilities to firms guilty of boycott compliance would not be rigorously applied.”
CHARGE POLICY BEING UNDERMINED
The Canada-Israel Committee’s statement stated that “the first semi-annual report on the implementation of the anti-boycott policy confirmed not only that the policy statement is not being implemented but also that it is being actively undermined.
“Against this background the government’s response to the Arab boycott cannot be viewed in a favorable light, “the committee said.”It has chosen to ignore recommendations from the Jewish community, Canadian Labor Congress, the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights agencies and other bodies. It has ignored the American experience which shows that such legislation protects companies from the effects of international economic boycotts without ensuing loss of business. It has also chosen to ignore infringements of our sovereignty by Arab countries to the extra-territorial applications of Arab laws and regulations within Canada.”
In its statement, the Canada-Israel Committee appealed to the government “to re-think its policy, summon up its courage and restore its damaged credibility through the introduction of comprehensive anti-boycott legislation.”
The Canada-Israel Committee is the umbrella organization for the Canadian Zionist Federation, the Canadian Jewish Congress and District 22 of B’nai B’rith.
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