TORONTO — Ontario has become the first Canadian province to reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, campaign against Israel.
Ontario’s legislature on December 1, by a vote of 49 to 5, passed a motion rejecting “the differential treatment of Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.” All five opposing votes came from the left-leaning New Democratic Party.
The vote came six months after it voted down a proposed bill that called on the province to stop doing business with companies, pension funds, foundations and colleges and universities that support BDS. That measure, which was a proposed law, rather than the largely symbolic motion passed December 1, was defeated by a vote of 39 to 18.
Last February, Canada’s House of Commons passed a motion condemning “any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad” by a vote of 229 to 51.
Lawmakers speaking for the Ontario motion described BDS as thinly-veiled anti-Semitism that has silenced debate and intimidated Jewish students at universities.
“We would not be here supporting the Ku Klux Klan on our campuses, so why are we allowing [the] BDS movement and other anti-Jewish and anti-Israel organizations to have demonstrations and use our campuses, which are taxpayer-funded?” asked the motion’s sponsor, Conservative legislator Gila Martow, who represents a large Jewish constituency.
Those opposing the motion argued it silences legitimate dissent.
Canadian Jewish organizations were pleased by the motion’s passage, with the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs calling it a “principled declaration that, just as Ontarians rightly oppose all forms of discrimination… rejects BDS and other bigoted campaigns against Israelis.”