TML Monthly

No. 4

April 4, 2021


In the Parliament

Legislation Before the House of Commons

Amendments to Oath of Citizenship Contain
Neither Truth Nor Reconciliation

- Steve Rutchinski -

Bill C-10 Eliminates Principle of Canadian Ownership and
Control of Broadcasting System

- Anna Di Carlo -

Enhancing Cyber Security Under the Guise of
"Economic Development"

- Pierre Soublière -

Abuse of Indigenous Peoples Continues

Indigenous Communities Have a Human Right
to Safe Drinking Water

- Philip Fernandez -

Opposition to Spurious Definition of Anti-Semitism

Zionist Definition of Anti-Semitism Must Not Pass!

- Diane Johnston -

Jewish Voices and Faculty Oppose Adoption
of Ill-Conceived Definition

Solidarity with Cuba

Canadian Solidarity Network to Send Significant Shipment
of Medical Supplies to Cuba

• Bridges of Love Worldwide Car Caravans Against
the Blockade of Cuba

International Solidarity with the People of Haiti

Montrealers Stand with the Haitian People

- TML Correspondent -

Mass Mobilizations Repudiate Moïse Government and
Referendum on Constitution

• Letter in Solidarity with the People of Haiti in Their Fight
for Democracy, Justice and Reparations

45th Anniversary of Palestinian Land Day

Uphold Palestinian Right of Return!
Support Palestinian Resistance!

International Criminal Court Begins Investigation of
Israeli Crimes Against the Palestinian People

- Hilary LeBlanc -

Israel Steps Up Illegal Destruction of Palestinian
Homes and Property

Zionists' Criminal Denial of Vaccines to Palestinians

- Nick Lin -

In the Parliament

Legislation Before the House of Commons

The spring sitting of Parliament which began January 25 is currently recessed until April 12 at which point it has a maximum of 39 business days remaining to debate and pass legislation before the June 23 scheduled summer recess. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, Parliament is continuing to meet based on a hybrid model adopted last year in which MPs either participate remotely from their ridings or attend in person.

MPs will spend a significant part of some of the remaining sitting days debating the government's April 19 budget. A budget implementation bill will follow, and debate on that bill is expected to be put near the top of the government's list of legislative priorities. Any vote on the budget will be a confidence motion on which the Liberal minority government could fall.

Presently there are 18 government bills in the House of Commons. Thirteen of them are at the first stage of debate in the House, second reading. One bill, C-10, the Broadcast Act, is being studied by the House Heritage Committee. Four more are at the report stage, having returned from study by parliamentary committees for debate, and possible amendment.

Bill C-19 gives Elections Canada the tools to conduct an election during the pandemic in a manner which, it is said, does not jeopardize the health and safety of voters and poll workers. It was introduced in December 2020 and remains at second reading.

None of the government bills currently before the house are yet at third reading, the final stage of debate in the House.

Included in the legislation before parliament are several bills to change or introduce laws to fulfill election promises made by the Liberal government. These include a promised Just Transition Act for workers affected by job losses related to the move towards clean energy; legislation to "modernize" the Environmental Protection Act; and legislation to create a new Canadian Disability Benefit program.

Anything that the government wants passed into law before the summer adjournment will also have to pass through the Senate, which mirrors each stage of the House's legislative process.

Government Bills in the House of Commons

Second reading:

S-2: An Act to Amend the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
S-3: An Act to amend the Offshore Health and Safety Act
C-2: COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act
C-11: Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020
C-12: Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act
C-13: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (single event sport betting)
C-15: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
C-19: An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (COVID-19 response)
C-20: An Act to amend the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador Additional Fiscal Equalization Offset Payments Act
C-21: An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)
C-22: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
C-23: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Identification of Criminals Act and to make related amendments to other Acts (COVID-19 response and other measures)
C-25: An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, to authorize certain payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and to amend another Act

In Committee:

C-10: An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

Report stage:

C-5: An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)
C-6: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)
C-8: An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 94)
C-14: Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

(Hill Times)

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Amendments to Oath of Citizenship Contain
Neither Truth Nor Reconciliation

Parliament is in the process of amending the Oath of Citizenship required of naturalized citizens. The legislation, Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 94) is at third reading. It is a duplicitous piece of legislation which does nothing to right historical wrongs against Indigenous peoples as is the intention of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It takes as its starting point an anachronistic oath of allegiance to the Queen of England, called Queen of Canada. This is despite the fact the majority of Canadians consider "the monarchy is out of date and no longer has its place in the 21st century." So said recent polls conducted by Angus Reid, Abacus Data, Research Co. and others who claim they hold true for all regions of the country and for all age groups. They found that less than 25 per cent of respondents had an allegiance to retaining the monarchy.

It is undemocratic and contrary to the will of the majority to compel naturalized citizens to swear allegiance to a foreign monarch who those that acquire citizenship by birth do not support. Far from having naturalized Canadians swear allegiance to the Queen of England, it is high time the matter of who and how Canada's head of state is chosen is settled.

The monarchy is an institution which is not only medieval but rotten and corrupt to the core. It is a burden which the Queen's so-called subjects have to bear -- all of them but especially the peoples of Scotland, Wales and all those who live in the so-called Duchy of Cornwall and other duchies forced to fill the royal coffers. Amendments to the Oath of Citizenship now not only ask for allegiance to the Queen of England, called the Queen of Canada, but also to the Constitution which is an already anachronistic and discriminatory piece of legislation.

This is a step backwards. By raising the issue of the Constitution, which has never even been signed by Quebec, the amendments proposed in Bill C-8 cause further divisions in the polity. The demand that new citizens pledge to uphold treaty rights but not the national rights of Quebec is trouble-making and shows the government is sincere about neither. To create the illusion that the government is not racist because it says citizens must pledge allegiance to treaty rights is despicable given that respecting treaty rights is a responsibility of government not of citizens per se who are presently powerless in any case.

No citizen or resident of Canada should be asked to swear allegiance to any values whatsoever which is a violation of the person's conscience. Meeting the objective requirements of citizenship and pledging to uphold the rights and duties required of everyone equally should be sufficient. Nowhere does Canada spell out the rights and duties that are common to all citizens, whether by birthright or naturalization. Those born in Canada do not have to swear allegiance to anything so it is improper to demand that those permanent residents accorded citizenship should be asked to do so.

The Trudeau Liberals crafted this legislation to give an appearance of acting upon the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Recommendation 94 which speaks of amending the Oath of Citizenship to say new citizens pledge to "faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples." It is not properly worded in the sense that it is the duty of governments to uphold the treaties which are nation-to-nation documents, not the duty of individual citizens, who are themselves trying to hold governments to account for violations of the treaties.

The Liberal government through its Minister of Immigration, instead proposes to amend the Oath of Citizenship to read: "I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen."

A modern definition of citizenship recognizes all members of the polity to be equal with the same rights and same obligations. Every citizen, or resident for that matter, is bound to comply with the law, which includes the Constitution, so what is gained by compelling a naturalized citizen to take such an oath? An applicant who has met the requirements of acquiring naturalized citizenship should need only pledge to fulfill the rights and duties expected of every citizen -- nothing more or less.

It is thoroughly dishonest on the part of the Trudeau Liberals to insert into the Oath of Citizenship, allegiance to "the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples." By sleight of hand, treaties with Indigenous peoples' are mentioned but not their inherent hereditary rights and with the understanding that they are defined as Canadian laws as given in the Constitution to be interpreted by a power above the Indigenous peoples themselves. It is colonizer-speak.

There is no truth or reconciliation in the new oath that the cartel parties will pass. The Bloc Québécois does not agree with the inclusion of the Constitution which Quebec has not signed. Bloc MPs Sylvie Bérubé and Marie-Hélène Gaudreau said as much when debating Bill C-8 on February 24. They also importantly noted that the Constitution fails to define the Canadian federation as a "free association of equal nations" or to acknowledge the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples.

Despite the Liberal declarations that Bill C-8 follows through on one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the revisions to the oath run counter to the spirit, principles and the aim of the Commission's recommendations. For the government to introduce and pass a law which compels naturalized citizens to swear allegiance to the Canadian colonial rendering of those relations is a dastardly act.

The only pledge that could be asked of new citizens is: I pledge to uphold the rights and obligations of citizenship.

(With files from CBC News, McGill Journal of Political Studies, HBRC Archives)

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Bill C-10 Eliminates Principle of Canadian Ownership and Control of Broadcasting System

Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, is currently under review by the Canadian Heritage Committee of the House of Commons. It was unanimously adopted in the House at second reading on February 16.

The entire matter is presented in a very reasonable way, as a matter of making sure Canada keeps abreast with technological advances and that digital media giants such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney and others adhere to Canadian content rules and other cultural support requirements demanded of traditional broadcasters.

"Canadians increasingly access their music, television shows and films through online broadcasting services. However, unlike traditional broadcasters, these online services have not been required to contribute to the creation, production, and distribution of Canadian music and stories. Canada's legislation must keep pace with technological change, to ensure that Canadian content producers and creators are well supported. Online broadcasters must contribute their fair share, [...]," a government backgrounder on the bill reads. The backgrounder continues:

"[Bill C-10] will require online broadcasters to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system and will provide the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) with the modern tools it needs to keep up with technological changes."

So what is this all about? What is really going on?

The Broadcasting Act was first enacted in 1936 and last amended in 1991. It sets out the country's broadcasting policy, the role and powers of its regulatory agency, the CRTC, and the mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada as the public broadcaster. The purpose of the current amendments, according to the government, is to address technological developments in broadcasting.

With Bill C-10, companies such as Amazon, Apple, Disney and Netflix will be subject to regulations. Unlike traditional broadcasters they will not be subject to statutory licensing requirements. Yet to be revealed obligations will be imposed on them through CRTC regulatory power.

According to another government backgrounder on Bill C-10, "If the Bill is adopted, the Minister of Canadian Heritage intends to ask the Governor-in-Council to issue a policy direction to the CRTC on how it should use the new regulatory tools provided by the Bill."

Another backgrounder goes on to say, "In consultation with stakeholders, the CRTC will develop and implement new regulations to ensure that both traditional and online broadcasting services, including internet giants, offer meaningful levels of Canadian content and contribute to the creation of Canadian content in both Official Languages."

An inquiry into the matter gave rise to an awareness that Bill C-10 will change who owns and controls the broadcasting system. This seems to be the most significant change in Bill C-10, one that is not even mentioned in government backgrounders. It eliminates the long-standing, first principle of Canada's broadcasting policy: Canadian ownership and control of the broadcasting system.

This principle was first formulated in the late 1920s and early 1930s in the period when U.S. broadcasting into Canada was viewed as a threat to national culture by the ruling elites of the day. The principle was enshrined in law with the 1932 Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act, which created CBC as a public broadcaster, also empowered at the time to regulate and license broadcasting.

The 1932 Act prohibited foreign ownership and recognized the airwaves as a public asset and the need for the airwaves to be nationally owned and controlled. Speaking in the House of Commons on May 18, 1932, Prime Minister R.B. Bennett, leader of the Conservative Party, outlined the Act's underlying principles and rationale. "First of all," he said, "this country must be assured of complete Canadian control of broadcasting from Canadian sources, free from foreign interference or influence. Without such control radio broadcasting can never become a great agency for the communications of matters of national concern and for the diffusion of national thought and ideals, and without such control it can never be the agency by which national consciousness may be fostered and sustained and national unity still further strengthened."

He went on to contrast the public versus private ownership of broadcasting. "Second, no other scheme than that of public ownership can ensure to the people of this country, without regard to class or place, equal enjoyment of the benefits and pleasures of radio broadcasting. Private ownership must necessarily discriminate between densely and sparcely populated areas. This is not a correctable fault in private ownership; it is an inescapable and inherent demerit of that system."

Finally, Bennett outlined the third consideration. "The use of the air, or the air itself, whatever you may please to call it, that lies over the soil or land of Canada is a natural resource over which we have complete jurisdiction. [...] I cannot think that any government would be warranted in leaving the air to private exploitation and not reserving it for development for the use of the people."

Presciently, Bennett added: "It may well be that at some future time, when science has made greater achievements ... it may be desirable to make other or different arrangements in whole or in part, but no one at this moment in the infancy of this great science would, I think, be warranted in suggesting that we should part with the control of this natural resource."

The principle of public ownership and control was reiterated in the 1967 Broadcasting Act adopted by the Pearson Liberals, with much fanfare on the occasion of the centenary of Confederation. The law was amended to suit technological developments and set out the statutory requirement that all Canadian broadcasters -- radio, TV and cable -- be owned and controlled by Canadians. It is this provision that is being eliminated by the Trudeau Liberals today.

Since then, the Broadcasting Act's broadcasting policy has stated as its first principle: "It is hereby declared ... (a) the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians."

Bill C-10 replaces this clause with a declaration more likely to obfuscate than to enlighten and designed to ensure full discretionary powers are enabled: "(a) each broadcasting undertaking shall contribute to the implementation of the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in this subsection in a manner that is appropriate in consideration of the nature of the services provided by the undertaking."

There are twenty other such "guiding principles" most of which remain intact from the current Act, such as the "system should serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada."

The elimination of the Canadian ownership clause has been the subject of a lot of questioning and criticism. Responding to questions at second reading, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault used typical Liberal doublespeak to beat about the bush. He told the House of Commons, "We are not changing anything with respect to ownership of Canadian companies." He said the eliminated clause "is not what ensures that Canadian companies have to be owned by Canadians." Really! He said that the CRTC, as the body that licenses broadcasters, controls ownership. He argued that the clause needed to be amended "to ensure that Canadian laws and Canadian regulations apply to web giants."

This of course begs the question: what laws, what regulations, and who will decide how they apply to "web giants" who have operated thus far without any regulation. Moreoever, what happens if it is the "web giants" who are compelling which decisions are taken, in which case the question returns to who owns and controls the "web giants"?

Faced with further questioning in Committee, Guilbeault insisted: "[W]e're not sacrificing the ownership of Canadian broadcasters. We're not. That's simply not the case. What we're doing ... is ensuring that Canadian laws and regulations can apply to online platforms, which they can't right now. If we don't create a space in the bill to do that, how can we apply our laws and regulations to them?"

Experts in the field, as well as MPs, are not accepting Guilbeault's dismissal of the ownership issue as a moot point. Many are pointing out that the Canadian ownership principle could have been left intact and specific clauses to deal with taxation and contributions to Canadian cultural endeavours by foreign-owned digital media could have been added.

In Committee, NDP MP Heather McPherson asked Guilbeault and his staff for further clarification. "I want to understand the motivation for this proposed change," she said, "and whether it could facilitate the acquisition of our broadcasters by American companies, for example." Thomas Owen Ripley, a senior staff member in the Canadian Heritage Ministry said, "The answer is no." He explained, "Right now, there is a directive to the CRTC that provides restrictions on foreign ownership with respect to licensed entities. The reality is that our over-the-air broadcasters and our cable and satellite companies cannot be put under foreign ownership and control as long as that directive remains in place."

For further certainty, McPherson asked: "Just to clarify, Mr. Ripley, that directive is binding? It is not something that can be changed by the CRTC?" Ripley affirmed: "It cannot be changed by the CRTC."

When pressed further on this issue by Bloc Québécois MP Martin Champoux, Guilbeault stated: "The CRTC has no authority over this issue. It's a government decision. Could another government decide to change things? A government is always sovereign and free to make its own decisions. In any event, the CRTC cannot do that, and [Bill C-10] does not change that. The directive that is in place stays in place."

Besides assuring us that "a government is always sovereign and free to make its own decisions" (i.e. has prerogative powers above the legislative powers of the Legislature to do whatever it pleases and that sovereignty lies in these police powers) it still does not answer the question of why the clause as it stands is being eliminated.

Creating a Less and Less Equitable Broadcasting System
Between Canadian and International Operators

The Independent Broadcasters Group[1] also appeared before the Canadian Heritage Committee. It objected to the removal of the Canadian ownership and control provisions and explained the implications. Joel Fortune, the Group's legal counsel stated: "The way the law works, generally, is that it has two major parts. There are the [broadcasting] policy objectives set out in Section 3, and then there are the powers. You have to have both elements. You have to have policy objectives, and you have to have the power. You can have all the noble policy objectives in the world, but if there's no power to back them up, they don't help. Similarly, you can have all the powers in the world, but if there's no object in the act, it can easily be challenged.

"In the case of ownership, first on the policy level, it would be incredible to me if we didn't have the support of Canadian ownership in our system as an objective. This is not to say that the ownership language shouldn't be amended; perhaps it should be. However, we've proposed an amendment that I think takes into account global platforms while also preserving the space for Canadian broadcasters.

"Why do we want that? We don't want Canadian broadcasters just to be branch plants of foreign platforms. [...] Legally, the direction exists under the existing act, which includes a requirement that the broadcasting system be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians. That policy direction speaks directly to that object. If you have no object about Canadian ownership, what's the authority for making that direction? It's certainly open for the direction to be challenged at law that it's no longer valid, given the change in the policy and the act. That's the concern there. [...] If the government were taken to court on the vires of its ownership direction and it were struck down, then there would be no ownership restrictions within Canadian broadcasting."

As unnecessary as one might think them to be, the challenges to the Liberal claim that removing the Canadian ownership clause is immaterial reveal that it is very material and will impact how decisions are made and what informs them. It is clear that the policies guiding the CRTC's rulings and regulations are 1) controlled by the government of the day; 2) guided by the legislation it enacts; and 3) subject to the prerogative powers of the Cabinet, all of which amount to the same thing and poses the question -- what narrow private interests are pulling its strings?

The eliminated clause on ownership reflects the politicization of private interests in conditions of a highly monopolized broadcasting industry. Richard Stursberg, co-author of The Tangled Garden: A Canadian Cultural Manifesto for the Digital Age and former executive director of Telefilm Canada, appeared before the Committee and addressed the Canadian ownership issue.

"First, under the present act, broadcasting companies operating in Canada must be owned and controlled by Canadians. There has been much talk about whether Bill C-10 eliminates this requirement," he said. "The legal issue is largely academic, since the requirement was ceded a decade ago. Over the last 10 years, foreign broadcasters like Netflix and Amazon have been offering TV programs to Canadians without any need to be Canadian-owned. There is no chance in the future that they will be forced to become Canadian-owned."

Having acknowledged this, Stursberg, as well as several other witnesses who appeared in Committee argued that in the name of equality of opportunity it may be time to eliminate foreign ownership regulations in the industry completely. Stursberg said: "In the interest of equity, you may want to consider putting Canadian and foreign broadcasting on the same footing by amending Bill C-10 to make sure the Canadian ownership requirements are gone. Not to do so would be to disadvantage Canadian broadcasters in their own market."

Indeed! But how about the issue of whose interests broadcasting serves and who speaks in the name of Canadians?

Troy Reeb, Executive Vice-President of Broadcast Networks, Corus Entertainment, echoed Stursberg and said it was important "for Canadian companies not only to be able to make the investments we want, but to be able to attract investments as well."

"One of the things the bill gets right is to treat foreign Internet broadcasters the same as Canadian broadcasters. In doing so, it removes some limits on foreign ownership. We're not necessarily advocating for foreign ownership, but we do need to have the ability to attract foreign investment, if necessary, to compete against these trillion-dollar giants from Silicon Valley and Hollywood. This is where the question of flexibility comes in. We want to create Canadian programming, but if our primary competitors are creating Canadian programming with billions of dollars coming from international markets, we need the capability to be able to do the same."

Canadian Association of Broadcasters[2] President Kevin Desjardins, also called for equalizing the playing field. Referring to the digital giants, he said, "They have the scale and the ability to be able to take advertising and distribute it. They're certainly much larger, and they're able to undercut the prices of, for example, a Canadian company trying to get into this area. They would be able to undercut that company by virtue of the fact they are globally capitalized. This goes to the previous question [of] Canadian ownership. I think that one of the things we keep talking about in this discussion is creating a less and less equitable broadcasting system between Canadian operators and international operators. International operators have vast access to capital markets around the world, and if we want to say that, well, they can do that, and Canadian operators can only bring in -- 

"[...] The Broadcasting Act is fundamentally the law by which broadcasters operate, and there are lots of people who have an interest, but we're committed to this, so the last thing that I would plead, to both this committee and the government, is to keep broadcasters and their future ability to compete at the centre of the considerations going forward."

It is thus clear that far from modernizing the Broadcasting Act, as the Liberals claim, Bill C-10 marks the official death of nation-building in broadcasting which was rooted in opposing the U.S. cultural domination of Canada. In its place, the private interests that own the "digital giants" which operate in Canada will now have uncontested free rein. Is this a matter of making Canada more competitive in the global market in tune with the times, as various people are saying, or less competitive as some are arguing with reason? Are the promised regulations, which will require Facebook, Google, et al to pay taxes and contributions that amount to minuscule figures in relation to their mega profits simply aimed at making them pay a fair share, which many argue will not be fair at all. Or, when taken in combination with the government's plans to further regulate on-line content, is all of this being done to further integrate Canada into U.S. "homeland security" and harmonize the two governing regimes? There is compelling evidence to show that at the end of the day, the narrow private interests taking the decisions and setting regulations in both countries are the forces within the U.S. defence industry which seek to impose U.S. imperialist control over all contending interests. While they intervene as cartels and coalitions which give themselves free rein in Canada, other private interests are blocked in the name of being enemy agents, interfering with Canada's liberal democratic institutions and promoting "un-Canadian" -- read "un-American" -- values.[3]

Officially incorporating the neo-liberal agenda into the Broadcast Act de facto abandons any consideration of the economic, social, political and cultural life needed by Canada and Canadians and what that might be. It totally nullifies every other clause of the Act whose very raison d'être is said to be to make sure the Canadian broadcasting system encourages "the development of Canadian expression by providing a wide range of programming that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas, values and artistic creativity, by displaying Canadian talent in entertainment programming and by offering information and analysis concerning Canada and other countries from a Canadian point of view."

Completely off the agenda in this exercise of subordinating the broadcasting policy to the narrow private interests that own and control the "digital giants" under the sway of U.S. imperialism are important matters such as the decades-long destruction of the CBC as a national public broadcaster and, indeed, its conversion into a mouthpiece for policies of subsequent governments over which the people exercise no control. There are not a few instances of the CBC being threatened with cuts and even closure because it was suspected of not toeing the line of the federal policies of the day. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, for instance, called Radio-Canada a boîte à séparatistes (nest of separatists) during the 1995 Quebec Referendum, complaining that it ignored or downplayed his speeches, and Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau believed the same, threatening to shut the network down during his reign.[4]

Massive cuts from the late eighties on have never been reversed, so that today the CBC stands 17th out of 20 countries monitored by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of per capita funding. The CBC receives $34 per capita compared to an average of $100, with $180 per capita in Norway and $97 in the UK. While funding has been increased, the levels have never been restored to what they were before the launch of the anti-social offensive, let alone increased to an amount that would allow it to fullfil its purported role.

The legislation also leaves the appointment of CBC directors in the hands of the ruling party which, combined with the ever-present threat of funding cuts and the absence of a statutory guaranteed funding provision serves to make it prey to the cartel party system, its values and agenda and the pressures of neo-liberalism. This not only views any form of subsidization for a public purpose anathema to its aim, it pushes anti-nation warmongering values and aims that are anathema to what Canadians stand for.

Furthermore, policy objectives in the Broadcasting Act, which remain unchanged and were not even put on the agenda for consideration, persist as the foundation for the anti-democratic standards upheld by the CRTC. A case in point is its evaluation of election coverage of the country's political parties on the basis of the concept of "equity" rather than "equality." Whenever complaints are filed about biased election reporting, they are more often than not dismissed on this basis. A derisive sentence about the existence of "fringe-parties" fielding candidates in an election is deemed to meet the requirements of "equity."

On a day-to-day basis, the CRTC policies endorse a broadcasting system that prohibits the airing of all political trends, views and persuasions. Most egregious of all is the absence in news coverage of reporting on the struggles, demands and concerns of the working people along with those of Indigenous peoples and all those fighting in defence of rights and for peace, justice and democracy.

Canadians need a national broadcasting system which serves their interests. It must professionally give expression to what the people of this country, from all walks of life and all beliefs and persuasions, have to say, as well as sing about, dance about, write about, make music and films about, as well as argue about and discuss.

Today, regulations are being passed by government prerogative, based on criteria citing national security and interests which permit "intelligence agencies" to censor speech on social media. Why is this not being discussed? Another self-serving claim is that if the "digital giants" censor access to their social networks it is a private matter between private interests -- oneself and the tech giant -- over which governments exercise no control. They claim it is not in the public domain!

All of this shows that the matter of Canada's Broadcasting Act is a matter of serious concern for the polity. The right questions have not even begun to be asked.


1. The Independent Broadcasters Group is comprised of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network Incorporated; BBC Kids; Channel Zero Inc.; Ethnic Channels Group Limited; Hollywood Suite Inc.; OUTtv Network Inc.; Stingray Group Inc.; Super Channel (Allarco Entertainment); TV5 Québec Canada; and Zoomer Media Limited. (as of January 2019)

2. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters describes itself as "the national voice of Canada's private broadcasters, representing the vast majority of Canadian programming services, including private radio and television stations, networks, specialty, pay and pay-per-view services."

3. The various security forces exercise a dictate over what is considered a threat to Canadian values and to the country's security in elections and in the media based on adherence to official state policy. This was illustrated when officials from the Communications Security Establishment of Canada appeared at an Elections Advisory Committee of Political Parties meeting in 2017 to brief the parties on their assessment of "threats to the Canadian democratic process." The "values" which these agencies defend include Canada's membership in NATO and the G7, etc. When asked by Anna Di Carlo if calling for Canada's withdrawal from NATO constitutes a threat to national security, a CSEC officer responded that his job is simply to defend the policies of the government of the day.

4. David Taras and Christopher Waddell, The End of the CBC? (University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 2020).

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Enhancing Cyber Security Under the Guise of "Economic Development"

Invest Ottawa chart of Ottawa-Gatineau "cyber security cluster." Click to enlarge

On February 26, Minister of Economic Development Mélanie Joly announced a $3.2 million investment in what is called the Ottawa-Gatineau "cyber security cluster."

Although Joly presented this investment as part of a post-pandemic "economic recovery" effort, the sector has been promoted since 2018. In November 2018, Invest Ottawa, Ville de Gatineau, ID Gatineau, and IN-Sec-M announced the official launch of a joint strategy aimed at attracting "new cyber firms, investment, talent and opportunity to Canada's Capital Region." The strategy aims to "position Canada's Capital Region as a global cyber security epicentre" and "help local innovators and firms further capitalize on the global cyber market," which, it points out, "is expected to grow from U.S.$152.71 billion in 2018 to U.S.$248.26 billion by 2023."

IN-Sec-M, which will receive $820,000, is an organization comprised of some 90 cyber security companies that describes itself as "the Canadian cluster of the cyber security industry." The funds are said to be "to strengthen the competitiveness of business in strategic sectors in Quebec around cyber security."

Founded in 2017, IN-Sec-M claims to "bring together companies, learning and research institutions, and government actors to take concerted action to increase the cohesion and competitiveness of the Canadian cyber security industry, nationally and internationally." As a "digital centre of excellence" funded by the Government of Quebec, IN-Sec-M aims to "promote cyber security industry and increase innovation, commercialization and growth capabilities of businesses in this field." It also supports innovative Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises by providing cyber security consulting services through the National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program.

One of IN-Sec-M's partners is CyberQuébec, "the college centre for technology transfer of cyber security" affiliated with the Cégep de l'Outaouais since the summer of 2018, which offers technical assistance and research services to companies specialized in this field. The University of Quebec in the Outaouais is also seeking to improve its training offerings in cyber security as part of these overall aims.

Until now, it has been claimed that the main raison d'être of all this cyber security-connected infrastructure is to protect companies from online piracy. But a statement by Gatineau MP Steven MacKinnon on the day of Joly's announcement establishes a definite relation between this sector and the state police and military apparatus. MacKinnon describes Ottawa-Gatineau as an ideal region to develop the cyber security "industry" because of the proximity of federal agencies such as the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), CSIS, the RCMP, Shared Services Canada, and the Department of National Defence.

As well, in a presentation on May 25, 2020, Minister of Digital Government Joyce Murray spoke of today's cyber security challenges. In her remarks, she stated that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Shared Services Canada would continue to work with the CCCS to implement measures "to prevent, detect and respond to potential threats to government systems." The CCCS itself is a unit of the Communications Security Establishment, which has just recently considered as serious threat activities the targeting of COVID-19 vaccine development and "cyber threats to Canada's democratic process." The minister went on to say that "to combat misinformation surrounding COVID-19 as well as fraud," the CCCS "coordinated with industry partners to help remove thousands of fraudulent websites or email addresses used for malicious cyber activity."

In 2019, a multimillion-dollar training complex for the police and military on the grounds of the Gatineau airport was announced. The centre will be used for training of tactical squads and in helicopter rescue and would include a fictional village. At a Gatineau city council meeting in October 2019, two council members tabled a resolution refusing the zoning change the project required on the grounds, among other things, that the city's Planning Department found the project to be unacceptable. The motion was defeated by a majority vote in favour of the zoning change.

The plan to make the "National Capital Region" a cyber security hub reveals a suffocating intricate web of connections, where it is difficult to see where government ends and businesses begin, where businesses and governments end and educational institutions begin, etc. Rather than being a boon or contributing to "economic recovery," it is already casting a shadow of government policing, spying and intrigue over the region. It definitely needs to be discussed. In these times of pandemic and with all the associated problems we are facing, there are more pressing democratic needs and preoccupations than hunting for threats to Canada's "democratic process."

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Abuse of Indigenous Peoples Continues

Indigenous Communities Have a Human Right
to Safe Drinking Water

2019 demonstration in Attawapiskat demanding government ensure safe drinking water.

Auditor General of Canada Karen Hogan has issued a damning report on the Trudeau government's failure to keep its pledge to eliminate boil water advisories in Indigenous communities by March 2021.

The Trudeau government's "commitment" made in 2015 covered about 1,050 public water systems servicing about 330,000 people. Fully one-third of all households on reserves were not included in that commitment because they get water from private wells, cisterns, or have no running water. Many others in remote northern communities are not monitored at all.

Indigenous Services Canada acknowledged in December that the commitment would not be met. The Prime Minister said difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had complicated the situation.

The Auditor General, however, concluded that the government never was on track -- and never will be given its reluctance to actually address the problem. Fifteen years after her department first reported on the matter in 2005 (and again in 2011), many Indigenous communities still do not have safe drinking water. She found that there is not even a regulatory regime in place for managing drinking water in First Nations communities.

Among the findings of the Auditor General's 2021 report are:

- The policy and formula for funding the operation and maintenance of water infrastructure remains 30 years out of date and have not kept pace with either advances in technology or actual costs of operating and maintaining infrastructure.

- The condition of water systems in First Nations communities, as measured by annual risk ratings, has not improved at all in the past five years -- despite more than a $1 billion spent.

- Of the total 160 long-term drinking water advisories in effect in 2015, 60 (37.5 per cent) remained in effect in 2020, impacting 41 First Nations communities.

- Last year, of 717 public water systems on First Nations reserves, 189 lacked a fully trained, certified operator and 401 lacked a fully trained and certified back-up operator. Underpayment of Indigenous community operators as compared to those in non-Indigenous communities was a major contributing factor in operator retention.

The Auditor-General concluded that access to clean, safe drinking water for Indigenous communities was a key to the government's reconciliation commitment and its failure to deliver is putting the health and safety of First Nations communities at risk.

In the last two decades alone, two-thirds of the First Nations communities in Canada have had a "drinking water advisory." The ongoing refusal of the Trudeau government, like the previous Harper government, to address this problem is a violation of the basic human rights of Indigenous peoples and the damage it causes to Indigenous health and well-being should be considered a crime.

In true Trudeau Liberal fashion though, the government agrees with everything the Auditor General recommends. The Minister responsible pledges not to fix the situation -- seemingly too much to ask -- but to be "transparent" by "giv[ing] everyone as much information as possible," and to keep "monitoring progress" and hold firm to a commitment to "do better." Such high-sounding phrases are a hallmark of the Trudeau Liberals, the worth of which can be judged by the results of their 2015 commitment. 

The racist colonial polices and practices of the Canadian state and its governments at all levels in violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples must be brought to an end.

(Auditor General of Canada, Report 3 -- Access to Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities, 2021

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Opposition to Spurious Definition of Anti-Semitism

Zionist Definition of Anti-Semitism Must Not Pass!

A motion may be presented to Montreal City Council to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) at its April 19 monthly meeting.

Such a motion had been expected at City Council's March 22-23 meeting. On March 9, in anticipation of such a motion, close to 30 Montreal-based anti-racist organizations sent an open letter to Mayor Valérie Plante and Montreal City Council demanding that they take a stand in opposition to the IHRA definition.

This definition says "Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities." This is a spurious as well as narrow definition. It is imbued with self-serving zionist notions, including the supposition that only Jews are Semites. Furthermore, of the 11 "examples" that the IHRA provides as guideline, seven refer to criticism of the state of Israel.

Independent Jewish Voices Canada has pointed out that "a similar motion to the one proposed for Montreal City Council was withdrawn following widespread grassroots opposition in January 2020."

It is instructive to revisit what took place at Montreal City Hall in January 2020 the first time the motion was presented and what followed.

On January 27, 2020, the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from Auschwitz by the Soviet Army, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, Montreal City Council met to discuss a motion to adopt the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism presented by Lionel Perez, head of the official opposition and interim leader of Ensemble Montréal (formerly Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal), following Coderre's defeat in the 2017 municipal election. A picket outside Montreal City Hall opposed the adoption of the IHRA definition, which included members of Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), Independent Jewish Voices, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and other progressive forces.

Inside Montreal City Hall, three citizens were chosen by roster to ask questions about the motion. One identified herself as the daughter of Soviet Jewish immigrants whose family members "did and did not survive" the Holocaust, another as the daughter of "survivors and refugees of the German government and state, concentration camps and violence," and a third as a member of Independent Jewish Voices.[1]

One of them noted that the IHRA working definition "actively criminalizes Palestinians and pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist organizations" and "obscures and deflects attention from the very violent manifestations of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, while white supremacist groups like Atalante and La Meute march in the streets of Montreal and Quebec and are often protected by the police and take their ideological positions from the same ideologies that enabled the Holocaust." She asked when would the city name the active agents of anti-Semitism as white supremacist groups.[2]

Another participant noted the importance of public discussion, debate and criticism regarding the actions and policies of any state, including Israel and wondered how public discussion and protests against Israel would be ensured and Palestinian voices heard if the IHRA definition was passed.

Councillor Perez responded that the definition had been worked on for 12 years by about 30 countries, the UN, UNESCO and the European Union. "We have every single major democratic country, including Canada, that has adopted it and guess what? They have no concern in fact about impeding freedom of speech." He added that although criticism of Israel was fine, if "you start incorporating elements of hate, when you use anti-Semitic tropes [elements of conspiracy], when you start talking about subliminal messages, that's where hate enters."[3]

In response to a question about how to guarantee that people will always have the right to label states -- whether it be Canada or Israel -- as racist states if the definition is passed, he responded: "We can" and "must rely on our institutions," and that "for us, this shows that it is entirely legitimate and always an issue [...] of finding a balance and in a free and democratic society, we can do that."[4]

One of the interveners asked, "Can we not have a larger conception of anti-Semitism that sees this as a kind of hate that is not very different from Islamophobia, or homophobia or all other forms of hate because it targets all forms of hate and doesn't divide communities?"[5]

The day after Perez tabled his motion, the City of Montreal administration decided to refer it to committee for study, where it has remained since.

This year, again on January 27, the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, at a special meeting of the Côte-des-Neiges--Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough council in Montreal's West End, of which Perez is a member, the "Motion adopting the operational definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA)" was passed.[6]

Amongst the considerations contained in the motion, we find that "in 2015, the City of Montreal created the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence, the aim of which is to prevent radicalization leading to violence and hateful behaviour." Another is that "following the 2015 Montreal Roundtable Discussions against anti-Semitism the Montreal Police Service established a hate crimes unit in 2016 allowing it to more effectively investigate reporting and complaints received regarding hate incidents and crimes." We also read that "in November, 2020 Canada created the position of special envoy for the preservation of the memory of the Holocaust and the fight against anti-Semitism by nominating Irwin Cotler to head the Canadian government delegation at the IHRA." Still another consideration is that "over recent years there has been an increase in anti-Semitic attacks around the world and in Canada."[7]

One of the motion's resolutions reads that "the Borough Administration circulate the definition with services so that it is used based on their respective needs." The motion adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism also resolves "that the Côte-des-Neiges--Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough request that the City of Montreal administration and City Council adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism as soon as possible."[8]

The following day, a letter to the editor appeared in the Montreal Gazette applauding Perez and the borough for adopting the IHRA definition. Amongst other things, it said: "We encourage other boroughs and the City of Montreal to follow suit." It added: "We are working with the Quebec government to produce a universal teachers' guide on the subject of genocide, including the Holocaust." It said that the guide "will help young people understand the meaning of and the ultimate consequences of hatred so that they will recognize the warning signs of genocide and prevent history from repeating itself." It was signed by a member of "The Foundation for Genocide Education, Montreal."[9]

The Foundation's stated mission "is to collaborate with governments to ensure that the history of genocide and the steps leading to it are taught in high schools across Canada and the United States."[10] Its partners include the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence as well as the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights, which organized the visit to Concordia University of the phony Ambassador to Venezuela in October 2019.

On June 25, 2019, without prior consultation with Canadians or even in the House of Commons, the Trudeau Liberal government adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism through its "Building a Foundation for Change: Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022." A year and a half later, Trudeau named Irwin Cotler Canada's "Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Anti-Semitism." Cotler leads the Government of Canada's delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).[11]

It is important for people to inform themselves on the matter, discuss these issues with their colleagues, friends, neighbours and families and go all out to block passage of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism, whether at the municipal level or within our educational institutions.

Pretentious claims of fighting hate and intolerance, and defending human rights are being used by the Canadian government to cover up the fact that one of its main priorities has been and continues to be the defence of Israeli Zionism, as well as the criminalization of those defending the rights of Palestinians and others. It must not pass!


1. Montreal City Council Proceedings, Monday, January 27, 2020, 7:00 pm 

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Proceedings of Special Meeting of the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Borough Council, January 27, 2021, pages 156-158

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. "Letter to the Editor: Education is key to fighting hate," Montreal Gazette, January 28, 2021.

10. The Foundation for Genocide Education 

11. The following countries have adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism (as of February 2021):

Albania, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania. Luxembourg, Moldova, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

(Quotations translated from original French by TML.)

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Jewish Voices and Faculty Oppose Adoption
of Ill-Conceived Definition

In late March, the Jewish Faculty in Canada Against the Adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, a group of about 150 Jewish faculty members Canada-wide, released a statement opposing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

Independent Jewish Voices Canada notes: "The IHRA definition has sparked major controversy in Canada and across the globe for conflating legitimate criticism and protest of Israeli government policies with anti-Semitism." It also informs that this group of Jewish academics "add their names to over 600 Canadian academics, nearly 20 Canadian faculty associations and academic unions, and many major civil society organizations such as the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Labour Congress who have taken similar positions."[1]

TML Monthly is reproducing their statement below.


We write as Jewish faculty from across Canadian universities and colleges with deep concern regarding recent interventions on our campuses relating to Israel and Palestine. Addressing all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Semitism, is imperative at this historical moment. Among the signatories, many share family histories profoundly and intimately shaped by the Holocaust. We write out of a strong commitment to justice, which for some of us is vital to an ethical Jewish life.

We add our voices to a growing international movement of Jewish scholars to insist that university policies to combat anti-Semitism are not used to stifle legitimate criticisms of the Israeli state, or the right to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We recognize that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a legitimate, non-violent form of protest. While not all of us endorse the BDS movement we oppose equating its support with anti-Semitism. We also are deeply disturbed by the upsurge of anti-Semitic acts in recent years which display painfully familiar forms of anti-Semitism.

We are specifically concerned with recent lobbying on our campuses for the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. This definition offers a vague and worrisome framing of anti-Semitism as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews" and that may be "directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property." The most serious problem however is that the definition is tied to a series of examples of which many are criticisms of the Israeli state. For this reason, the IHRA working definition has come under extensive criticism. Not only does it essentialize Jewish identity, culture, and theology, it also equates Jewishness and Judaism with the State of Israel -- effectively erasing generations of debate within Jewish communities. The issue is particularly pressing as the IHRA working definition has been invoked by those seeking to interfere with collegial governance and student life at Canadian universities. The IHRA working definition distracts from experiences of anti-Jewish racism, and threatens to silence legitimate criticism of Israel's grave violations of international law and denial of Palestinian human and political rights.

On campuses where this definition has been adopted it has been used to intimidate and silence the work of unions, student groups, academic departments and faculty associations that are committed to freedom, equality and justice for Palestinians. A range of international Jewish institutions have recognized this problem; for example, the New Israel Fund of Canada has recently retracted their support for the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism. Furthermore, the University College London (UCL) has seen its Academic Board advise that the university seek an alternative definition of anti-Semitism and reverse adoption of the IHRA model. The UCL Academic Board joins a growing chorus of voices, including over 500 Canadian academics and multiple statements by Jewish and Israeli academics, British academics who are Israeli citizens, and specialists in Jewish and Holocaust history, opposing the adoption of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism.

We know that there is serious and occasionally fractious disagreement on our campuses about anti-Semitism and its relationship to criticism of the State of Israel. These disputes cannot and will not be resolved by definitional fiat. If the goal of adopting the IHRA definition is to quell further conflict around the legitimate scope of criticism of Israel, it will surely fail. This is already evident at many academic institutions."

To view the statement in French, Hebrew or Arabic, and for a list of signatories, visit the website:


1. On March 9, Independent Jewish Voices Canada was among 27 Montreal-based anti-racist organizations that sent an open letter to Mayor Valérie Plante and Montreal's city council, demanding they take a stance against the dangerously misleading International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) anti-Semitism definition. While no motion to adopt the IHRA was presented at the March meeting, people remain vigilant to the possibility that such a motion could still be introduced. For the open letter, click here.

(Jewish Faculty in Canada Against the Adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Anti-Semitism)

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Solidarity with Cuba

Canadian Solidarity Network to Send Significant Shipment of Medical Supplies to Cuba

The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) is readying the shipment of a container to Cuba with 1,920,000 syringes to support that country's vaccination program against COVID-19. The initiative is part of the fundraising campaign launched by the CNC on January 8 aimed at sending medical supplies to Cuba. This solidarity campaign has received the support of many Canadian friends, Cubans and citizens of other countries residing in Canada.

In announcing this action in solidarity with the Cuban people, the CNC recognized Cuba's achievements in health care and their contributions to other nations during the pandemic.

The shipment is greatly appreciated by Cuba which faces a double pandemic: COVID-19 and the brutal blockade by the United States. As a result of the U.S. blockade, which has intensified to unprecedented levels, Cuba has been unable to acquire medicines and medical equipment necessary to face the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the economic hardships caused by the illegal U.S. blockade. All of this is creating great suffering for the Cuban people.

On behalf of the Cuban people, the Embassy of Cuba in Canada thanked the CNC and contributors to the campaign for their solidarity.

Donate to the Campaign to Send Medical Supplies to Cuba

The CNC is accepting donations via cheque or e-transfer, as below:

1) Make cheque payable to CNC and write on Memo line: medical supplies. Mail to:

CNC c/o Sharon Skup
56 Riverwood Terrace
Bolton, ON L7E 1S4

2) Send e-transfer to Mention "medical supplies" in message.

IMPORTANT: Also send an email or phone Sharon Skup at 905-951-8499 with the exact spelling of your secret password/answer and your name so she can then open your e-transfer.

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Bridges of Love Worldwide Car Caravans
Against the Blockade of Cuba

People in Canada are stepping up their support for the heroic Cuban people during this difficult time. In addition to the monthly virtual and in-person pickets held on the 17th of every month, on March 28, for the second month in a row, people across Canada took part in the Puentes de Amor-Bridges of Love international caravan to demand an end to the U.S. blockade and other sanctions on Cuba. Caravans were held in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria to demand the end of a policy that the U.S. and Canadian people consider irrational and criminal, and that is rejected by the vast majority of the international community.








(Photos: Association of Cubans Resident in Canada, M.B. Diaz, D. Pineda, M. Gorgzadeh)

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International Solidarity with the People of Haiti

Montrealers Stand with the Haitian People

Dozens of Montrealers answered the call of the Coalition haïtienne au Canada contre la dictature en Haïti (Haitian Coalition Against the Dictatorship in Haiti) to show their solidarity with the people of Haiti from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on March 29 at the Haitian Consulate in Montreal. Fierce and frigid winds that tore apart placards and threw people off balance had no impact on the vigour and determination of the protest.

The demonstration was part of the International Day of Solidarity with Haiti that also saw actions in Ottawa; as well as in Boston, DC, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Miami, in the U.S.; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Caracas, Venezuela; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina, to express support for the Haitian people who are courageously opposing the dictate of de facto president Jovenel Moïse and foreign interference whose aim is to prevent them from forming a government in their own name that serves their interests.

Young and old, from all walks of life, including many Quebeckers from the Haitian community, made it clear that they are determined to support the people of Haiti and oppose imperialism, including the interference of Canada, the UN, the Core Group[1] and the Organization of American States.

Many Coalition activists addressed the crowd in French and Kreyòl ayisyen (Haitian Creole). Particular emphasis was placed on the insidious role of the Canadian government in supporting the dictatorship and financing fraudulent elections in defence of private economic interests, using our tax dollars. "Not in our name!" they said. They emphasized that the people of Quebec and Canada are against this foreign policy and stand with the people of Haiti in their fight for justice and dignity. Calls were given for participants to inform friends, neighbours and colleagues about the struggle and to encourage them to get involved to help put an end to Canada's anti-democratic interference.

Speeches were interspersed, and frequently interrupted, by militant slogans in French and Creole and by passing cars, taxis and trucks honking to express their support. People shouted slogans such as No to the Dictatorship!Solidarity with the Haitian People!Long Live Free Haiti!Jovenel Répressif, Trudeau Complice!No to Canada's Interference!, and No to the Core Group! The participants expressed their determination to continue and expand the actions in support of the Haitian people in defence of their right to be.

Action Demands Canada Stop Supporting Corrupt
Jovenel Moïse Government

On March 21, at 1:00 pm, several dozen people gathered outside the Montreal constituency office of Marc Garneau, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs to demand that the Canadian government stop supporting the corrupt government of Jovenel Moïse at an action organized by Solidarité Québec-Haïti. Several speakers all pointed out that Canada's foreign policy towards Haiti is racist and neo-colonial. The Canadian government's "aid" to Haiti is, in fact, blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Haitian people and a means of blocking the efforts of Haitians to themselves establish the kinds of political arrangements that would benefit them and not the private interests of the U.S. imperialists and their lackeys, including the Canadian government.

The Canadian government must be held accountable for the huge sums of money it makes available to the forces of repression in Haiti. Protesters were also informed of a petition that was tabled the next day in Parliament by the Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament for the Pointe-de-l'Île riding, Mario Beaulieu, demanding: "1. The release of all documents related to the 'Ottawa Haiti Initiative'; and 2. the holding of a hearing of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to specifically look into all aspects of the 'Ottawa Haiti Initiative,' including links to the Core Group."

Many passers-by on foot and in cars expressed support for the participants' demands.

Solidarity Actions in the U.S.

Boston, Massachusetts

Washington, DC

New York City, New York

Chicago, Illinois


1. The Core Group is composed of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the Ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union, the United States of America, and the Special Representative of the Organization of American States.

(Photos: TML, Boston for Peace, Blacks4PEace, DSA Antiwar, G. Mirambeau)

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Mass Mobilizations Repudiate Moïse Government and Referendum on Constitution

The Haitian people undertook two days of mass mobilizations across Haiti on March 28 and 29, as well as amongst the diaspora abroad. Their actions are based on the fundamental demand that the Haitian people must be able to exercise their right to decide their own future, within which the people are demanding an end to foreign interference and the removal of the illegitimate regime of de facto president Jovenel Moïse who remains in power with the backing of the U.S., Canada and other countries. Besides these demands, the two days of protest specifically denounced the plans of the de facto Moïse regime for a referendum aimed at amending the 1987 Constitution.

Pastor Gérald Bataille, one of the initiators of the March 28 action, expressed alarm over the situation in the country. "The homeland is in danger. We are under the stranglehold of dictatorship, persecution and insecurity. We're being run by an illegal government. This president's mandate ended on February 7. That's why we're in the streets. To cry out in distress and anger," he told Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste. He affirmed that Haitians can govern themselves and that no problem facing the country is going to be resolved with Jovenel Moïse in power. "Dialogue is the starting point for all solutions. However, no dialogue is possible with this man [Jovenel Moïse]," he opined.

The protestors expressed their demands for better living conditions, security and respect for human rights across the country, and denounced the climate of criminality in the country, fuelled by the federation of armed gangs known as G9 and the inability of law enforcement to keep them in check.

Le Nouvelliste spoke with a woman in her forties during the March 28 protest in Port-au-Prince, who denounced the Moïse regime's "calamitous" management. "The situation has deteriorated with Jovenel Moïse in power. Schools can no longer function as before. We're no longer able to move around freely. My sons are forced to return to the provinces because of the insecurity. I can no longer carry out my activities at the Croix-des-Bossales market because of the shootings," she complained.

Another protestor told Le Nouvelliste, "We don't have a constitutional problem in the country. This referendum is a strategy used by the PHTK [Tet Kale Haitian Party] to renew itself and stay in power. It's a waste of time. The people will and must oppose this gruesome project. We have other more urgent problems such as unemployment, insecurity, the high cost of living. We must know how to choose the priorities."

Various political figures took part in the March 28 protests. Former presidential candidate Jean-Charles Moïse asked Haitians to defend the 1987 Constitution. "This Constitution is 34-years old. We cannot allow a dictator to change it. We're against this referendum. We therefore ask the people to mobilize against this dictatorial project, against this dictator and against the foreigners holding the country hostage," he shouted out.

Schultz Simpssie Cazir, General Secretary of the Movement of the Third Voice Party, decried the situation in the country. "My presence in the streets today is to denounce and vigorously protest against insecurity, political persecution and intimidation, corruption, impunity and multiple cases of violation of the Constitution by an illegitimate power acting in complete illegality. For me, marching peacefully today expresses my rejection of Jovenel Moïse's dictatorial plan to impose a constitution on us through an unconstitutional referendum, without any broad consensus within the country's forces," he said.

Maryse Narcisse, spokesperson for the Fanmi Lavalas party, told Le Nouvelliste that President Moïse has no legitimacy to change the Constitution. "He's a de facto president. He has no right to call a referendum to change the Constitution," she declared, while calling for intensifying the mobilization against Moïse.

March 29 marked the 34th anniversary of the 1987 Constitution, and protestors remained on the streets. Some brought copies of the Constitution with them as a sign of their commitment to defend it. "Down with a phony referendum. Down with a fake constitution," they chanted. They were met with police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them in the Champ de Mars area of Port-au-Prince.

A sit-in was held at the entrance to the communal market of Jacmel (the main city of the southeast department of Haiti), to demand respect for the Constitution."The Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) = [Haiti's] operating system. Haiti will not return to dictatorship. No to insecurity," were among the messages on the banners at the sit-in.

The protesters said they will shut down the country if the de facto regime proceeds with its plans for a new Constitution that it has unilaterally drafted.

(With files from Le Nouvelliste and Resumen Latinoamericano. Quotations translated from original French and Spanish by TML. Photos: G. Mirambeau, P. Solages, redfishstream, J. Feray, C. Olivier, E. Bruyer)

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Letter in Solidarity with the People of Haiti in Their Fight for Democracy, Justice and Reparations

April 1, 2021. Demonstrations continue in Haiti. (C. Sylvain)

To the UN Secretary General, António Guterres

To the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro

To the governments of the member countries of the UN and the OAS

To the people of Haiti and their organizations

Haiti is once again going through a very deep crisis. At present, a central element of this crisis is the struggle against the dictatorship imposed by former President Jovenel Moïse. Since last year, after decreeing the cessation of Parliament, he has been ruling by decree, in permanent violation of the country's Constitution. Thus, for example, he refuses to leave power despite the fact that his mandate expired on February 7, 2021, claiming that it ends on February 7 of next year, without any legal basis. He does this despite multiple pronouncements against it by the main legal bodies of the country, such as the CSPJ (Superior Council of the Judiciary), the Federation of Haitian Lawyers Associations, as well as religious federations and numerous institutions representative of the society.

At that time, there was also a strike of judicial officials which left the country without any judicial body functioning.

At the same time, this institutional crisis is part of an insecurity that affects practically all sectors of Haitian society. An insecurity that is expressed through savage repression of popular mobilizations by the HNP (Haitian National Police) [in the service of] the Executive, attacks on journalists, various massacres in popular neighbourhoods, assassinations and arbitrary arrests of opponents, detention of a judge of the Court of Cassation under the pretext of fomenting an alleged plot against the security of the State and to assassinate him, illegal and arbitrary revocation of three judges of this Court, creation of hundreds of armed groups that sow terror over the entire national territory and that respond to [those who wield power], transforming the kidnapping of people into a very prosperous industry for these criminals.

The 13 years of military occupation by the United Nations troops through "MINUSTAH peacekeepers," as well as the operations [to prolong a situation of] tutelage through the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) and BINUH (United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti) have aggravated the Haitian crisis, supporting the retrograde, anti-democratic and mafia sectors.

In addition, they committed serious crimes against the Haitian population and their fundamental rights (such as the introduction of cholera) that deserve exemplary processes of justice and reparation. The Haitian people paid dearly for the MINUSTAH intervention: 30,000 DEAD from cholera carried by the soldiers, thousands of women raped, who now have orphaned children of living parents -- the soldiers who returned to their countries. Nothing changed positively in 13 years, more social inequality, more poverty, more difficulties for the people and absence of democracy.

The living conditions of the popular sectors have worsened dramatically as a consequence of more than 30 years of neo-liberal policies imposed by the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), a severe exchange rate crisis, the freezing of the minimum wage and an inflation rate of more than 20 per cent during the last three years. It should now be emphasized that, despite this dramatic situation, the Haitian people remain firm and are constantly mobilizing to prevent the consolidation of this dictatorship by demanding the immediate departure of former President Jovenel Moïse. Recently, on February 14 and 28, hundreds of thousands of citizens clearly expressed in the streets their rejection of the dictatorship and their firm commitment to the respect of the Constitution.

Considering the importance of this struggle and that this dictatorial regime still enjoys the support of imperialist governments such as the United States, Canada, France and international organizations such as the UN, the OAS, the EU and the IMF, we call to listen to the people of Haiti who demand the end of the dictatorship as well as the respect for their sovereignty and self-determination and the establishment of a political transition regime controlled by the Haitian actors that has enough space to launch a process of genuine national reconstruction.

We call on the UN and the OAS -- which certainly have neither the right nor the moral right to interfere in elections and other internal affairs of member countries -- and on the governments of all countries, especially those that have lent themselves to "occupy Haiti as humanitarians" for 13 years through MINUSTAH, to stop behaving as if Haiti were their colony. Enough of interference! Their duty is another: to ensure justice and reparations for all the crimes they have committed against that people and country, including the introduction of cholera, rape and sexual abuse, the impunity of their electoral manipulation and the use of "cooperation" for their own ends.

Only the Haitian people can decide on their future, but in that journey they can count on our solidarity and willingness to support them with all the actions within our reach. We support the people and movements of Haiti so that they can elect a popular transitional government and a Constituent Assembly in a democratic way.

For a Free and Sovereign Haiti!

To download the statement with signatories, click here

(, March 29, 2021. Slightly edited for grammar and style by TML.)

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45th Anniversary of Palestinian Land Day

Uphold Palestinian Right of Return!
Support Palestinian Resistance!

March 30, 2021. Land Day celebration in Palestine

This year marks the 45th anniversary of Land Day, which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when six Palestinians from Arab villages inside the Green Line were shot and killed by Israeli forces while protesting the confiscation of 5,500 acres of land from the Galilee. Since then, Land Day has been commemorated by Palestinians inside Israel as well as in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem and around the world. Such actions were once again held this year despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic.

In Palestine rallies and marches marked Land Day, in particular in the towns where the six martyrs were killed 45 years ago and Palestinians laid wreaths at their graves. Local media report that tens of Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank towns of Ramallah, Hebron, Jenin, Salfit, Nilin, Nablus and Sebastia.

Actions in support of Palestine are all the more important at this time when Zionists, aided and abetted by the U.S. imperialists and their allies such as Canada, are escalating their violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinians as part of an overall program of dispossession and genocide.

Land Day gathering near the Palestine-Lebanon border

On the occasion of Land Day 2021, Dr. Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), issued a statement in which she commemorated Land Day in statistical figures. Dr. Awad noted that Israel's continuous confiscation of land from the Palestinians at present amounts to 85 per cent of the total lands of historical Palestine being under Israeli control. She also points out that the expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian lands are accompanied by a growing number of violent attacks to displace the Palestinians. There were 1,090 such attacks recorded in 2020, up nine per cent from 2019, that include the razing of properties, destruction of thousands of trees, the killing of hundreds of cattle, assaults using vehicles and guns, as well as attempted kidnappings. The settlers carry out these attacks under the protection of the Israeli military.

Dr. Awad points to the occupation's ongoing practice of demolishing Palestinian buildings under various pretexts, noting that "During 2020, the Israeli occupation demolished and destroyed 976 Palestinian buildings; around 30 per cent of which were in Jerusalem Governorate, 296 demolitions, of which 180 buildings were inside the neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. Whereas the self-demolition operations for Palestinian buildings reached 89 operations, most of which were located in Jerusalem Governorate. During the year 2020, the Israeli occupation orders to demolish and stop the construction and restoration of about 1,012 buildings in the West Bank and Jerusalem, an increase of about 45 per cent over 2019. The occupation authorities are also placing obstacles on the issuance of building permits to Palestinians."

Meanwhile, the massive numbers of injuries, detentions and deaths due to the occupation and violent expansion of settlements continues to grow. The PCBS informs that "The number of Palestinian and Arab martyrs killed since the Nakba in 1948 and until [Land Day 2021] (inside and outside Palestine) reached about 100,000 martyrs. Moreover, the number of martyrs killed in the Al-Aqsa Intifada between September 29, 2000 and December 31, 2020 was 10,969. It is said that the bloodiest year was 2014 with 2,240 Palestinian martyrs, 2,181 of them were during the war on the Gaza Strip. During 2020, the number of Palestinian martyrs reached 43, nine of whom were children and three women. While the number of the wounded Palestinians during the year 2020 reached about 1,650. By the end of 2020, there were 4,400 Palestinian detainees in the Israeli occupation prisons, 170 of them are children and 35 women. In regards to the number of detention cases during the year 2020, it amounted to about 4,634 cases, including 543 children and 128 women."

On the occasion of Land Day 2020, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) salutes the Palestinian people and their courage, resourcefulness and steadfast resistance to defend their right to be, and calls on everyone to step up their efforts to stand with Palestine. 

Long Live the Just Struggle of the Palestinian People!

Land Day in Younis, south of the Gaza strip.

Land Day in Gaza, near the fence with Israel. Great March of Return actions were not held this year due to the pandemic.

Land Day Actions in Solidarity with Palestinian People

Lebanon, Garden to the Martyrs of Return









(Photos: Wafa, Palestine Chronicle, Tasnim, Palestine Action, Palestine Respond, Global Campaign of Return)

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International Criminal Court Begins Investigation
of Israeli Crimes Against the Palestinian People

The International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague announced on March 3 that the court will commence an investigation into the "Situation in Palestine." The ICC investigation was triggered by requests by the Palestinians, who had become a "state party" to the ICC in 2015.

Upon that request in 2015, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began a preliminary examination into "the situation in Palestine." After a thorough investigation she concluded in December 2019 that she was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence that war crimes had been committed in four areas of investigation, namely: 1) Israel's war on Gaza in 2014; 2) Israel's illegal "settlements" in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; 3) Israel's killing of protesters in Gaza in 2018-2019; and 4) the indiscriminate shooting of rockets by Palestinians.

In her announcement on March 3, Ms. Bensouda stated: "The decision to open an investigation followed a painstaking preliminary examination undertaken by my Office that lasted close to five years. During that period, and in accordance with our normal practice, the Office engaged with a wide array of stakeholders, including in regular and productive meetings with representatives of the Governments of Palestine and Israel, respectively." She emphasized that the investigation would be conducted "independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favour" and that her office "will take the same principled, non-partisan approach that it has adopted in all situations over which its jurisdiction is seized." She pointed out: "In the end, our central concern must be for the victims of crimes -- both Palestinian and Israel -- arising from the long cycle of violence and insecurity that has caused deep suffering and despair on all sides."

The Chief Prosecutor also noted that meticulous care was taken to ensure the scope of the investigation. To that end, in order "to obtain clarity on it at the outset, so as to chart the course of any future investigation on a sound and judicially tested foundation," she asked Pre-Trial Chamber 1 of the ICC for a ruling on the matter. She pointed out that on February 5, "the Chamber decided, by a majority, that the Court may exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine, and that the territorial scope of this jurisdiction extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem," Palestinian territory that Israel has occupied since 1967.

The ICC decision is historic. It is welcomed by the Palestinian people and all justice- and peace-loving people in Canada and around the world who have stood together for more than 70 years in defence of the rights of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry stated: "This long-awaited step serves Palestine's vigorous effort to achieve justice and accountability as indispensable bases for peace." It called for concluding the investigation swiftly in light of the ongoing crimes of the occupation's leaders against the Palestinian people which are "lasting, systematic and far-reaching."

The Zionist state of Israel has condemned the ICC decision. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: "The decision of the international court to open an investigation against Israel today for war crimes is absurd. It's undiluted anti-Semitism and the height of hypocrisy." Israel has since undertaken an international campaign to attack the ICC decision under the pretext that the ICC has " No Standing. No Jurisdiction. No Case."

The U.S. takes the same position. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated: "The United States firmly opposes and is deeply disappointed by this decision. The ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter. Israel is not a party to the ICC and has not consented to the Court's jurisdiction, and we have serious concerns about the ICC's attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel. The Palestinians do not qualify as a sovereign state and therefore, are not qualified to obtain membership as a state in, participate as a state in, or delegate jurisdiction to the ICC."

Canada's stand on this important matter is also thoroughly despicable. After the February 5 decision of the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber 1 that the Chief Prosecutor can proceed with the investigation, Canada's Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said: "Canada's longstanding position remains that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize its accession to international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Canada has communicated this position to the Court on various occasions." A week later on February 14, with prompting from Netanyahu, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote to the ICC to express Canada's opposition to the decision.

Canada's unprincipled opposition to the just and legal decision of the ICC should be opposed by all peace- and justice-loving people. The ICC is a court of the United Nations with a mandate to prosecute individuals accused of perpetrating genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on the territory of states party to the Rome Statute, its founding treaty. Israel, like its sponsor the U.S. is not a member of the ICC but the Palestinian Authority is. The Palestinian Authority first sought to become a "state party" to the ICC in 2009 but the ICC concluded after some deliberation that Palestine's status as an observer entity in the UN did not meet the legal requirements to join the court. It was only in November 2012, after the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 67/19 by an overwhelming majority to "accord to Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations" that Palestine qualified to join the Rome Statute. The resolution was passed with 138 in favour, nine opposed (including Canada) and 41 abstentions.

(With files from International Criminal Court, UN, The Guardian, Global Affairs Canada, U.S. State Department.)

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Israel Steps Up Illegal Destruction of
Palestinian Homes and Property

Israel demolished more than 1,000 Palestinian homes and buildings in 2020 and in the first three months of 2021. More than 1,500 Palestinians including some 600 children have been affected and rendered homeless. A large number of the victims have also lost the means of a livelihood and access to vital services as a result, as well as being made more vulnerable to the global corona virus pandemic.

Despite pledging to stop the destruction of Palestinian property on account of the pandemic, the Zionist state has actually stepped up these crimes. Homes and property have been destroyed or seized in the Gaza Strip and also in the West Bank, where Israel has claimed 60 per cent of the lands seized illegally from the Palestinians after the so-called Six Day War in 1967. Israel has been engaged in a systematic program of demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property in what is known as Area C and Al-Quds (East Jerusalem) in an effort to extinguish the historic struggle and claim of the Palestinian people to an independent Palestine with Al-Quds as the capital.

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Territories (OCHA) reported that in February 2021 alone, the Israeli army either destroyed or seized 153 Palestinian-owned structures. This represented the highest per month number of such cases since 2009. It would seem that since the recent announcement that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be undertaking an investigation into the "Situation in Palestine" the Zionist state has stepped up its crimes against the Palestinian people.

In November 2020, Israel destroyed the dwelling tents and property of Palestinian Bedouins living in Khirbet Humsa in the upper Jordan Valley affecting some 75 people in all including 45 children. UN human rights experts denounced this single largest incidence of the destruction of Palestinian property since 2010 and condemned the ongoing illegal campaign of destruction particularly in the time of a pandemic and pointed out that such acts are a serious violation of the human rights of the Palestinians. They added, "We call on Israel to immediately halt its property demolitions in the occupied territory, to ensure that its actions are strictly compliant with its international humanitarian and human rights obligations and to provide protection for, rather than displacement of, the protected population."

For decades, the UN Security Council, the UN General Secretary, and the UN Human Rights Council and other international human rights bodies have all passed resolutions and denounced Israel for the destruction of Palestinian homes and property as well as other human rights crimes and atrocities. The UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel some 50 times officially for various human rights violations against the Palestinian people yet nothing has been done concretely to stop these crimes. Now that the ICC -- the "court of last resort" -- has decided to investigate, the U.S. and its allies including Canada, Britain, France, Germany, NATO and other instruments of hegemonism in the Middle East are all lining up not to denounce Israel, but to denounce the ICC for its "bias" against Israel! This is what permits the Zionist state to carry on with impunity.

What is decisive in addressing this untenable situation is the resistance of the Palestinian people to the Zionist stand and ongoing struggle to assert their rights that will not be extinguished no matter what. They have the full support of the Canadian people and peoples of the world for their just cause and for their national rights including their right of return. And they will prevail because history is on their side.

(With files from United Nations)

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Zionists' Criminal Denial of Vaccines to Palestinians

As various countries experience problems in the broad and timely delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, Israel is promoted as a paragon of efficiency, with various figures cited to claim how fast and thoroughly it has vaccinated its population.

Such a narrative is in utter denial of Israel's brutal and racist treatment of the Palestinian people. Of the nearly 14 million Palestinians worldwide, some 5.2 million live under Israeli occupation. As much as the Zionists would like a free hand to commit their crimes with impunity, international law imposes certain obligations on an occupying power.[1] This includes ensuring that the people under occupation receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

Two UN special rapporteurs issued a statement on January 14 that pointed out that "Israel has not ensured that Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza will have any near-future access to the available vaccines. The COVID-19 pandemic has been ravaging the West Bank and Gaza in recent months, and has fractured an already badly under-resourced Palestinian health care system. We are particularly concerned about the deteriorating health situation in Gaza, which suffers from a 13-year-old blockade, serious water and electricity shortages, and endemic poverty and unemployment." They noted at that time that vaccines that were ordered by the Palestinian Authority were not expected for many weeks. "This means that more than 4.5 million Palestinians will remain unprotected and exposed to COVID-19, while Israeli citizens living near and among them -- including the Israeli settler population -- will be vaccinated. Morally and legally, this differential access to necessary health care in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century is unacceptable."[2]

At the end of February, a medical advisor for Médecins Sans Frontières, noted that while Israel had managed to vaccinate nearly 4.2 million people (roughly 50 per cent of Israelis) with a first dose and 2.8 million people with two doses (about 30 per cent of Israelis), "only several thousand doses are available in the Palestinian West Bank, and a delivery of 20,000 reported to have arrived last weekend in Gaza scarcely scratches at the surface of the needs. At a generous maximum, assuming that the 35,000 reported Sputnik and Moderna vaccines are all available, that would be around 0.8 per cent of the Palestinian population." He noted that at that time, Israel was moving to vaccinate young and healthy sections of the population considered to be at low risk. "If asked why vulnerable people cannot be vaccinated in Palestine, I do not know how to answer. It is inexplicable and unbelievable. Worse than that -- it is unjust and cruel," he added.

The advisor went on to detail the difficulties in various regions of Palestine, and highlighted the especially dire situation in Gaza where "they have much more severe shortages of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals because the blockade is so strict. Their capacity for COVID-19 treatment is lower, so their need for the vaccine is all the higher. And the recent delivery of 20,000 vaccines will not be enough to protect both the health care workers and the people most vulnerable to needing critical COVID-19 medical care."[3]

Until mid-March, it was even the official policy of the Israeli health ministry to deny vaccinations to Palestinians living in Israel. Supposedly the ministry is now permitting Palestinians in Israel with work permits to be vaccinated.

An important aspect of the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic at this time is to ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated. The World Health Organization and others have even established the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative to more broadly distribute vaccines, especially in the face of hoarding by wealthy countries, such as the U.S., UK, Canada and Israel, among others.

The BBC reported on March 22 "The first consignment of vaccines provided by the COVAX scheme to help poorer countries access supplies has now arrived in the West Bank and Gaza.

"37,440 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have been delivered, according to a statement from UNICEF.

"The international COVAX scheme, backed by the WHO, should cover up to 20 per cent of vaccine requirements for the Palestinians.

"The Palestinians have sourced some limited quantities of vaccines from elsewhere.

"A delivery of 10,000 doses of Russian-made vaccine [Sputnik V] has arrived, 2,000 of which have been sent on to Gaza. Gaza has also received 20,000 Russian vaccine doses donated by the UAE. [...]

"A recent report by the World Bank says that the Palestinians will need more financial and logistical help in order to cover 60 per cent of the population.

"It has urged Israel to consider donating extra doses it has ordered but does not need to the Palestinians.

"Israel says it is giving 5,000 doses to the Palestinians, 2,000 of which have been delivered to the West Bank so far."


1. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel has a responsibility as an occupying power to ensure the provision of medical supplies to the occupied people, including "adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventative measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics" to "the fullest extent of the means available to it."

2. "Israel/OPT: UN experts call on Israel to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for Palestinians," United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, January 14, 2021.

3. "In Israel, you're 60 times more likely to have a COVID vaccine than in Palestine," Matthias Kennes, Médecins Sans Frontières Medical Advisor, Palestine, February 22, 2021.

4. "COVID-19: Palestinians lag behind in vaccine efforts as infections rise," BBC News, March 22, 2021.

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