Massive Class Action Launched Against Trudeau Government For Failure To Act On The Climate Crisis

In Quebec, a massive class action has been launched against Justin Trudeau’s Government for its failure to act on the climate crisis.

The action has been brought on behalf of 3.5 million Quebecois who are 35 years old or younger.

The lead plaintiff alleges that Trudeau’s inaction on climate change breaches fundamental rights to life, security and equality.

For The Real News Network, I discuss the case with Catherine Gauthier, the Executive Director of ENvironnement JEUnesse, the lead plaintiff in the proposed class action. Our discussion can be seen and heard here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/massive-class-action-launched-against-canadas-trudeau-government-for-failure-to-address-climate-crisis

Alberta Energy Regulator, With The Full Complicity Of Big Oil, Perpetrates a Massive Fraud on Canadian Taxpayers

For the Real News, I speak to Regan Boychuk of Reclaim Alberta about a recent, stunning revelation that Alberta’s Energy Regulator (AER) has grossly misrepresented to the public the true costs to clean up old oil wells and toxic tar sands tailings ponds in the province.

The AER has previously claimed those costs to be $58 billion, but in fact they are likely to be well in excess of $260 billion.

Meanwhile, the AER has collected a paltry $1.6 billion in security from oil companies, meaning that there is a large and growing risk that Canadian taxpayers will ultimately shoulder most of the burden to clean up the oil industry’s massive, toxic mess.

My discussion with Regan can be seen and heard here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/oil-industry-cleanup-costs-vastly-exceed-alberta-governments-estimates?fbclid=IwAR1IlSMexCLYg1so7qRVdu0E-E_lDtNB1_3S3Cx6MJFjbiCpo4ViyLmUvvQ.

A Call to Escalate Resistance to Canada’s Pro-Israel Policies

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Palestinian-Canadian human rights activist Hammam Farah interrupts a speech by Israel’s Economy Minister, Eli Cohen, at a Bay Street luncheon held in May 2018.

There is a moment in Henry Kissinger’s memoirs — do not buy the book — when Nixon and Kissinger are looking out at tens of thousands of anti-war protesters who have surrounded the White House. Nixon had placed empty city buses in front of the White House to keep the protesters back. He worried out loud that the crowd would break through the barricades and get him and Kissinger. And that is exactly where we want people in power to be. This is why, although he was not a liberal, Nixon was our last liberal president. He was scared of movements. And if we cannot make the elites scared of us we will fail.

Christopher Hedges, November 2016

Recently, human rights advocate Peter Larson published on his website, Canada Talks Israel Palestine, a blog post addressing accusations from Prime Minister Trudeau and other Canadian party leaders that I had directed a ‘vile anti-Semitic smear’ at two Members of Canada’s Parliament.

The MPs in question are Liberals Michael Levitt and Anthony Housefather. They are both members of the Executive Committee of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. Levitt is the Chair of that Group. Levitt and Housefather also happen to be Jewish.

My alleged ‘anti-Semitic smear’ was a tweet in which I wrote:

Apparently, Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt are more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own prime minister and colleagues in the Liberal caucus.

After Trudeau and other party leaders falsely accused me of anti-Semitism, Peter reviewed over 100 blog posts on my website going back to January 2017. He then wrote[1] that:

[Lascaris] is a very vocal advocate of BDS, the movement to boycott Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, and very critical of both Elizabeth May and Jagmeet Singh for not endorsing it. But I could find no whiff of any animus against Jews…

While his tweet may have been insensitive, any intimation that Lascaris himself is anti-Semitic appears to be ill informed and perhaps even politically motivated. It would appear that a number of political leaders who have been sharply criticized by Lascaris in the past are not willing to come to his defense in the face of Trudeau’s attack.

I have already explained the context of my tweet and the reasons for which I categorically reject the Prime Minister’s accusation of anti-Semitism. My purpose in writing this post is not to add to that explanation, but rather, to respond to other criticisms Peter articulated in his post.

Continue Reading ›

Legal Battle over Falsely Labelled Wines From Israel’s Illegal Settlements Heats Up

In January 2017, Dr. David Kattenburg of Winnipeg, Canada filed a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about two wines produced in Israel’s illegal settlements. Those wines are sold in Canada bearing labels which falsely proclaim them to be “Product of Israel”. As such, they plainly violate Canadian law, including section 5 of the Food and Drugs Act and section 7 of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

Dr. Kattenburg, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, reminded the CFIA that the Canadian government itself declares Israel’s settlements to be on occupied Palestinian territory and therefore a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is beyond reasonable dispute that those settlements form no part of Israel. As stated on the website of Global Affairs Canada:

Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories. As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace…

Canada recognizes Israel’s right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including through the restriction of access to its territory, and by building a barrier on its own territory for security purposes. However, Canada opposes Israel’s construction of the barrier inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem which are occupied territories. This construction is contrary to international law under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Canada not only opposes Israel’s construction of a barrier extending into the occupied territories, but also expropriations and the demolition of houses and economic infrastructure carried out for this purpose.

After months of careful consideration by at least seven CFIA analysts, including five specialists and a senior compliance officer, CFIA staff properly concluded that the wines violated Canadian law and that Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint was well-founded.

The CFIA then instructed the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to remove the wines from the shelves of LCBO vendors until a proper action plan for rectifying the false labels had been formulated and implemented.

On July 12, 2017 – before Dr. Kattenburg himself was apprised of the CFIA’s decision – the main pro-Israel lobby groups in Canada somehow learned of the CFIA’s ‘disturbing’ decision and intensely lobbied the Canadian government to reverse it. They relied on article 1.4.1b of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), an obscure provision that has nothing to do with product labelling. Nonetheless, the Canadian government quickly capitulated to the lobby’s demands and pressured the CFIA’s president into reversing his staff’s carefully considered decision.

Less than 24 hours after the lobby attacked the CFIA’s decision, the CFIA announced that it had reversed itself on the basis of “further clarification” of article 1.4.1(b), which CFIA staff had already considered before rendering its initial decision that the labels on these settlement wines violated Canadian law.

Canada’s pro-Israel lobby was aided in its efforts to circumvent Canadian law by Liberal MP Michael Levitt, the Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. On the day of the CFIA’s self-reversal, Levitt issued a statement in which he boasted about his advocacy for Israel and professed to have been “shocked and deeply concerned” by the CFIA’s enforcement of Canadian law.

Shortly after the CFIA’s lightening-speed self-reversal, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and Michael Levitt celebrated their victory for injustice by travelling to the illegal Psagot settlement in the West Bank and visiting one of the wineries that is the subject of Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint.

In October 2017, I commenced a judicial review application in the Federal Court of Canada on Dr. Kattenburg’s behalf. Dr. Kattenburg is asking the court to declare unlawful the CFIA’s decision to allow these wines to be sold in Canada bearing false “Product of Israel” labels. Dr. Kattenburg’s application is scheduled to be heard in the Toronto courthouse of the Federal Court on May 21 and 22, 2019.

On November 2, 2018, I filed with the Federal Court a copy of Dr. Kattenburg’s Memorandum of Fact and Law in support of his application. A complete copy of the Memorandum can be viewed at the end of this post.

Dr. Kattenburg stands to gain nothing from his extraordinary efforts to ensure that the Canadian government enforces Canadian law. As stated in his Memorandum of Fact and Law, he has commenced this legal proceeding “to help ensure respect for Canada’s consumer protection and product labelling laws, to help ensure that he and other Canadian wine consumers be provided truthful and accurate information about the wine products that they purchase and consume, and to ensure both Canada’s and Israel’s respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.” Although I am acting for Dr. Kattenburg on a pro bono basis, this legal proceeding requires him to incur significant expenses. We encourage you to help Dr. Kattemnburg to shoulder these expenses by contributing to his gofundme campaign here.

Dr. Kattenburg’s Memorandum of Fact and Law, filed with the Federal Court of Canada on November 2, 2018:

Applicant’s Memorandum of Law – FINAL

 

 

 

After Alt-Right March for Israel in Toronto, Justin Trudeau Smears Human Rights Activist as Anti-Semitic

This week, I talked with Marc Steiner​ of The Real News Network about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent Twitter attack on me.

The genesis of Trudeau’s attack was a deceptive campaign launched by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) in which CIJA omitted crucial information about the working definition of antisemitism adopted in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Based on CIJA’s misleading campaign, Trudeau and other politicians elected to attack me rather than to denounce racist, Islamophobic and white supremacist supporters of Israel who gathered on August 29 in Toronto to show their support for B’nai Brith Canada. One of those B’nai Brith supporters was Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy, who has promoted a fascist book calling for the elimination of the “Jewish menace” and who has praised the Greek neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn.

My discussion with Marc can be watched and heard here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/alt-right-march-for-israel-human-rights-activist-smeared-as-anti-semitic.

Canada’s Yemeni Community Calls on Justin Trudeau’s Government to End Arms Sales to Saudis

For The Real News, I speak with Hamza Shaiban, founder of the Yemeni Community in Canada, about Canadian arms sales to the brutal Saudi autocracy.

After describing the appalling conditions in Yemen, currently the site of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, Mr. Shaiban says that these arms sales cannot be reconciled with the Trudeau Government’s oft-stated commitment to ‘stand up for human rights.’

My discussion with Mr. Shaiban can be watched and heard here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/canadas-yemeni-community-calls-on-trudeau-government-to-end-arms-sales-to-saudis.

My Response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Smear: Sir, I Will Not Be Deterred From Defending Human Rights

I am a proud, anti-racist advocate for human rights, yet I now find myself in a situation familiar to so many defenders of the human rights of Palestinians: I am being defamed as an anti-Semite by pro-Israel organizations and pro-Israel politicians, including Canada’s own Prime Minister.

Let me state unequivocally that I oppose and condemn antisemitism. Indeed, I oppose and condemn all forms of racism. I am humbled to belong to a principled global solidarity movement against the occupation of Palestine. That wonderful and growing movement includes many brothers and sisters from the Jewish community. We are resolute that fighting all racism is necessary to realize any hope for a just peace in Israel and Palestine.

I have visited and reported on Israel and occupied Palestine. I have borne witness to Palestinian suffering. This has moved me to seek an end to the oppression of Palestinians, which the Canadian government tries to sweep under the carpet.

Over the last decade, pro-Israel organizations in Western nations have attempted methodically to expand the definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel and of its advocates. Previously, antisemitism was understood as prejudice and hatred of Jews, their religion, their culture and their religious institutions. The nation-state of Israel was not part of the equation.

Canada just signed on to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. In 2016, the Western-dominated IHRA adopted a “working definition” of antisemitism that is “non-legally binding.” That definition includes vague language that “manifestations [of antisemitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” The IHRA definition also states that “contemporary examples of antisemitism… could, taking into account the overall context, include… accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.” [My emphasis.]

This sweeping language has become a weapon in the hands of pro-Israel groups and individuals: deploying it enables them to denounce any critic of Israel as anti-Semitic in order to disrupt, deter, marginalize and even criminalize Palestinian rights activism.

We must not allow such campaigns to diminish our determination to end Israel’s illegal, violent and deeply oppressive occupation and treatment of Palestinians, which has endured for over half a century.

Because international support for the Israeli government is rapidly waning – including among Jews in the United States – Israel’s government and pro-Israel organizations around the world have built new alliances with influential people who support Israel as a Jewish state, including figures who dislike or even hate Jews as a people. They have changed the definition of antisemitism to reflect these new alliances.

These disreputable Israeli supporters include Christian Zionist evangelicals who pray for the day that Christ returns and Christianity rules the earth – resulting in the disappearance of Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians. Two such prominent Christian evangelical leaders were invited to speak at the recent opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Some pro-Israel groups now welcome flat-out racists and neo-Nazis who admire the hyper-militarized, racist regime Israel has become, because these racists see apartheid Israel as a model nation to be emulated elsewhere. In Canada, one such figure is Faith Goldy, a white supremacist who recently promoted a fascist book calling for the “elimination of Jews.” Goldy nevertheless professes to be pro-Israel.

The new IHRA definition of antisemitism has been used viciously against prominent figures such as Britain’s Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn — not because Corbyn bears any hostility toward the Jewish people, but because he openly supports Palestinian rights. That same definition is now being used against me.

Let’s return to August 29th and the events that sparked this libelous charge against me. I helped organize a pro-Palestinian rights demonstration at the head office of B’nai Brith Canada because of B’nai Brith’s attack on the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). B’nai Brith targeted CUPW because CUPW supports the BDS movement and has also expressed support for the Palestinian Postal Services Workers Union.

The Jewish Defence League Canada (JDL), a violent, anti-Arab and Islamophobic hate group, organized a counter-protest in support of B’nai Brith. Faith Goldy showed up at the JDL counter-protest and was greeted warmly by a number of the counter-protesters, including JDL boss Meir Weinstein.

Immediately following our demonstration and the JDL counter-protest, two B’nai Brith supporters recorded and posted on Facebook a video gushing over Faith Goldy. In that video, they called for the death penalty to be imposed on Prime Minister Trudeau, certain Liberal MPs who are Muslim and/or persons of colour, and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, stating:

“I just think we should bring in the death penalty. And that would resolve a lot of problems… Justin Trudeau, be the first one to go. I’d love to see him. And Monsef. And Iqra Khalid. And Ahmed Hussein. And Omar Alghabra… And Singh, Singh, let’s make him sing, you know, as he walks toward the gullotine!”

After I publicly exposed this heinous, racist, death-wish video, I called on B’nai Brith, the Center for Israel & Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Liberal MPs Michael Levitt and Anthony Housefather to denounce the video’s authors and Faith Goldy. They failed to do so.

After days of their silence, I tweeted “Apparently, Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt are more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own prime minister and colleagues in the Liberal caucus.”

The ferocious reaction, in hindsight, was predictable, but I was admittedly naïve. CIJA and B’nai Brith deflected attention from the death threats against the Prime Minister and other MPs and from the racism of supporters of Israel, and screamed “antisemitism” at me because the MPs I tweeted about were Jewish.

To be sure, there are other Canadian MPs who are supportive of Israel, but Levitt and Housefather are Israel’s most outspoken defenders in Canada’s Parliament, and they do not hesitate to advertise themselves as such. They are also major supporters of B’nai Brith. In addition, promptly following the conclusion of our protest at B’nai Brith’s offices, Levitt had specifically condemned our rally in support of CUPW without once mentioning the presence of Faith Goldy or other hate-mongers at the JDL-organized counter-protest. Shamefully, in May of this year, Levitt and Housefather criticized their own party leader, Justin Trudeau, for his mild rebuke of Israel after an Israeli sniper shot Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani while Loubani was attempting to treat unarmed Gazans being shot by Israeli snipers. These snipers have now murdered over 160 unarmed Gazans in the past six months, including children, medics and journalists.

I readily acknowledge that allegations of divided loyalties have been hurled against Jewish persons by real anti-Semites. I certainly agree that false and racist claims of divided loyalties that are made against Jewish persons must be denounced and opposed. But as the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism makes clear, not all such claims are anti-Semitic, and when evaluating such claims for potential antisemitism, one must take into account the overall context. As the context here makes abundantly clear, my criticism of Levitt and Housefather has nothing to do with their ethnicity or religion, and everything to do with their extensive record of unqualified and enthusiastic support for Israel’s murderous, racist regime.

Ultimately, this case raises deeply disturbing questions about what our country has become, and what it is becoming. How does the Trudeau government claim with a straight face that it will ‘always stand up for human rights’ even as it lavishes support on Israel’s killing machine? How can it claim that Canada is a land of free speech and tolerance when Trudeau smears a Palestinian rights defender as a racist while remaining silent about real racists like Faith Goldy and the JDL? How can the individual who drew attention to a death wish targeting the Prime Minister become the target of the Prime Minister’s slanderous accusation?  And perhaps most importantly, how can it be in Canada’s interests for its elected officials to side – again and again — with injustice and oppression?

What is happening to me demonstrates why all good Canadians should demand that human rights be applied universally. We must recognize that the fight against antisemitism and other forms of racism is undermined when critics of Israel become the targets of official condemnation. This case is yet another stark lesson that the weaponization of the definition of antisemitism is leading us down a dark tunnel.

I will nonetheless continue to advocate vigorously for justice for the Palestinian people, and for all victims of racism.

Not even a Prime Minister’s smear will deter me from doing so.

 

UPDATE

On September 14, 2018, Independent Jewish Voices Canada issued the following statement in regard to the accusation of anti-Semitism that has been levelled against me:
https://ijvcanada.org/2018/statement-dimitri-lascaris/.

On September 13, 2018, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters issued the following tweet on his Twitter account:

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