February 27, 2009
CUPE Ontario resolution on Israeli universities crosses the line, Liberals say
OTTAWA – Liberals condemned a resolution, passed last weekend by the Ontario wing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which calls for a boycott of Israeli universities.
Liberal Justice Critic Dominic LeBlanc said that boycotts or divestment appeals that target Israel for singular condemnation and exclusion are unacceptable.
“The CUPE resolution is reprehensible because it singles out academics for discriminatory treatment because of their nationality,” said Mr. LeBlanc. “This goes beyond reasonable criticism—we’re seeing Israeli Jews demonized in a way that has absolutely no place in our public discourse.”
“I’m greatly disappointed in CUPE Ontario’s leadership for working to stifle the free exchange of ideas and opinions that should be at the centre not only of every university campus, but also of our national life as Canadians,” Mr. LeBlanc said.
Mr. LeBlanc pointed to a disturbing trend on university campuses, in Canada and elsewhere, where Jewish students are too often made to feel intimidated or even physically threatened because they hold personal views in support of Israel.
“Our commitment to tolerance and openness at Canada’s universities must be absolute,” said Mr. LeBlanc. “Short-sighted proclamations like last weekend’s CUPE resolution help undermine the safe campus environment that should be the right of every student.”
Mr. LeBlanc also pointed to widespread academic collaboration between Canadian and Israeli scholars, which continues to benefit both countries.
“It is both foolish and reckless to undermine the relationship between Canadian and Israeli academic institutions with polemics,” Mr. LeBlanc said.
Mr. LeBlanc expressed hopes that CUPE members would follow the example of the union’s National President, Paul Moist, who has refused to support the resolution passed by the Ontario wing.
“The Liberal Party of Canada unequivocally condemns the CUPE Ontario resolution for the short-sighted intolerance it entails,” Mr. LeBlanc said. “I hope that CUPE members across the country, and all Canadians, will do the same.”