Federal Court Allows Independent Jewish Voices To Intervene in Wine Labelling Case and Dismisses Intervention Motion of B’nai Birth Canada’s League of Human Rights
As I have previously reported on this website, I am legal counsel to Dr. David Kattenburg in a judicial review application pending in the Federal Court of Canada.
Dr. Kattenburg is Jewish and is the child of Holocaust survivors. In 2017, he complained to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about wines produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements and sold in Canada bearing “Product of Israel” labels.
Initially, after an exhaustive examination of Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint, the CFIA agreed with Dr. Kattenburg that the country-of-origin labels on those settlement wines were false and therefore violated Canadian law. The CFIA swiftly reversed itself, however, after it came under intense pressure from the Israel lobby and from staunchly pro-Israel members of Canada’s Parliament, particularly Liberal MP Michael Levitt.
After the Complaints and Appeals Office of the CFIA agreed with the CFIA’s decision to reverse itself, Dr. Kattenburg retained me to initiate a judicial review application. That application is scheduled to be heard in Toronto on May 21 and 22, 2019.
This past week, there were significant developments in Dr. Kattenburg’s case.
In advance of the hearing in May, both the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada (B’nai Brith) and Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) applied to intervene in Dr. Kattenburg’s case and to be permitted to make submissions at the hearing in May. B’nai Brith characterizes itself as the “grassroots voice of the Jewish community” and a “staunch defender of the State of Israel” whereas IJV describes itself as “a grassroots organization grounded in Jewish tradition that opposes all forms of racism and advocates for justice and peace for all in Israel-Palestine.”
Dr. Kattenburg opposed B’nai Brith’s application for intervenor status but took no position on IJV’s motion to intervene. One of the grounds on which we opposed B’nai Brith’s motion for intervenor status is that B’nai Brith has no particular expertise in the core issues raised by Dr. Kattenburg’s judicial review application.
This week, the Court agreed with our position. It ruled that B’nai Brith did not meet the test for intervenor status. At the same time and in a separate decision, the Court granted intervenor status to IJV. Both of those decisions are embedded below. (They are brief and I encourage you to read them.)
Separately, the Court also ruled this week on another important issue in Dr. Kattenburg’s case. The background of that third ruling is that, before Dr. Kattenburg launched his judicial review application, he filed an access to information request with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) in which he sought documents relevant to the CFIA’s wine-labelling decision. For unexplained reasons, the GAC did not produce those documents to Dr. Kattenburg until January 2019, by which time he and the Attorney General of Canada had filed their affidavits in support of and in opposition to the judicial review application and cross-examinations on those affidavits had been completed.
Under the rules of the Federal Court of Canada, litigants cannot file further evidence with the Court once those affidavits have been filed and the cross-examinations have been completed, unless the Court grants them permission to do so. That permission is granted infrequently.
After Dr. Kattenburg and I reviewed the documents delivered to him by the GAC in January 2019, we decided to ask the Court for permission to file those documents in support of his judicial review application. The Attorney General of Canada opposed our request. The Court agreed with our position and granted us leave to file additional documents delivered by the GAC to Dr. Kattenburg in January 2019. That ruling is also embedded below.
One final note. I am representing Dr. Kattenburg on a pro bono basis. Also, Dr. Kattenburg stands to gain nothing economically from this case, even if he is successful. We would thus appreciate it if you would contribute to his GoFundMe Campaign to support his efforts to ensure that the Government enforces the law against producers of wines from Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. You can contribute to that campaign here:
The decision of the Court to dismiss B’nai Brith’s intervention motion can be read here:
The decision of the Court to grant IJV’s intervention motion can be read here:
The decision of the Court to grant leave to Dr. Kattenburg to file additional GAC documents can be read here: