Thursday, October 23, 2008

Criticism of Israel illegal: CJC

The Communist Party of Canada's candidate in the Quebec riding of Westmount, Bill Sloan, had his election posters torn down, and a complaint against him made to Elections Canada by the Canadian Jewish Congress.

His crime? His posters read "Canada Out of Afghanistan" and "End Canadian Support to Apartheid Israel."

The Liberal candidate, Marc Garneau, issued the following press release:


Marc Garneau joins the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) in denouncing the possibly illegal campaign activities of the Communist Party of Canada (CPC). Over the course of the current campaign, the CPC has posted signs in Westmount--Ville-Marie with the slogans "Out of Afghanistan" and "End Canadian Support of Apartheid in Israel," among others. "This is a violation of current electoral laws and an affront to the democratic process," declared Marc Garneau. "I support the CJC’s complaint to Elections Canada and request that the Communist Party of Canada take down those signs immediately!"

The Canadian Jewish Congress argues in its complaint that the CPC's signs violate article 407 of the Canada Elections Act in that they do not "directly promote or oppose a registered party, its leader or a candidate during an election period." They are therefore not a legitimate election expense. Moreover, given that the goal of an election is to espouse a particular candidate or party, these signs go against the very spirit of our democracy. The Liberal Party of Canada candidate stands behind the CJC and calls upon all other candidates in this campaign to join him in condemning the CPC’s disgraceful propaganda.

Marc Garneau and the Liberal Party of Canada are long time friends of Israel and Canada's Jewish community. "It is particularly shocking to me that the CPC would so abuse the electoral system with inflammatory statements," stated Mr. Garneau. "We need dialogue and discussion, not senseless rhetoric," he concluded.

The posters, as noted, were duly removed. The candidate himself claims that a Westmount Public Security official confirmed that this had been done by City of Westmount police. Another report, however, states that the signs were simply stolen after Garneau's press release was issued, and that the City of Westmount offered to re-post signs recovered by Montreal police. A tangled tale, indeed.

But the undisputed fact remains: according to the Canadian Jewish Congress, with the support of at least one Liberal MP, criticism of Israel in an election campaign is now against the law in Canada. Who knew?

Calls to Canada's Speech Warriors™ have not been returned.


No comments: