Canadian Food Inspection Agency Delays Release of Potentially Embarrassing Documentation for Over Two Years

In March 2017, Dr. David Kattenburg filed a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regarding two wines produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. Those two wines were being sold in Ontario with false “Product of Israel” labels.

On July 12, 2017, Dr. Kattenburg learned from a post on the Facebook page of B’Nai Brith Canada that, on July 6, 2017, the CFIA had directed the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to order its wine vendors to cease the sale and importation of these settlement wines due to the fact that their labels were false.

The CFIA immediately came under intense pressure to reverse itself from the Israeli government and its advocates in Canada, including B’Nai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and Liberal MP Michael Levitt. As a result of that pressure, the CFIA reversed itself less than 24 hours after Dr. Kattenburg learned of the CFIA’s initial – and correct – decision to bar the sale and importation of these falsely labelled wines.

Since then, Dr. Kattenburg has filed an appeal with the Complaints and Appeals Office of the CFIA in which he argues that the CFIA has capitulated to pressure from Canadian lobbyists for the Government of Israel and that the CFIA is improperly refusing to enforce Canadian consumer protection law. More detail regarding Dr. Kattenburg’s appeal can be found here.

On July 14, 2017, Dr. Kattenburg sent a request to the CFIA pursuant to Canada’s Access to Information Act (AIA). In that request, Dr. Kattenburg sought, among other documents,

(1) Copies of all emails, letters, and other communications regarding his complaint to the CFIA between CFIA personnel, officials of the Canadian government, and Members of Parliament;

(2) Copies of all emails, letters, and other communications regarding his complaint between CFIA personnel, on the one hand, and representatives or agents of B’Nai Brith Canada, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, or other advocacy Canadian groups or organizations, on the other hand; and

(3) Copies of all emails, letters, and other communications regarding his complaint between CFIA personnel and representatives of the government of Israel.

Under section 7 of the AIA, the head of a government institution like the CFIA is required to give access to the requested records within thirty days after the request is received. The 30-day requirement is, however, subject to certain exceptions. One such exception is set forth in section 9 of the AIA, which provides that the head of a government institution may extend the time limit set out in section 7 “for a reasonable period of time” (emphasis added) if the request is for a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution, or if consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot reasonably be completed within the original time limit.

On August 17, 2017, Dr. Kattenburg received a letter from the CFIA in which it advised Dr. Kattenburg that it was taking a time extension of up to 800 days and that the revised  due date for completing the processing of Dr. Kattenburg’s request is October  28, 2019. Notably, the next federal election in Canada is scheduled to occur on October 21, 2019 – one week before the CFIA’s revised due date for completing the processing of Dr. Kattenburg’s request.

As a result of the CFIA’s attempt to delay the release of these potentially embarrassing documents for an inordinate period of time, I have filed a complaint on behalf of Dr. Kattenburg with Canada’s Information Commissioner. The text of that complaint is reproduced below, in full. Continue Reading ›

Label the Occupation: Dr. David Kattenburg Files Further Material with the CFIA’s Complaints & Appeals Office

In January 2017, Dr. David Kattenburg filed a complaint with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) regarding two wines produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. Those two wines, Shiloh Legend KP and Psagot Winery M Series, were being sold in LCBO outlets with false “Product of Israel” labels.

Three months later, Dr. Kattenburg filed a complaint regarding these falsely labelled wines with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

On July 12, 2017, Dr. Kattenburg learned from a post on the Facebook page of B’Nai Brith Canada that, on July 6, 2017, the CFIA had directed the LCBO to order its wine vendors to cease the sale and importation of these settlement wines due to the fact that their labels were false.

The CFIA immediately came under intense pressure to reverse itself from the Israeli government and its advocates in Canada, including B’Nai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and Liberal MP Michael Levitt. As a result of their pressure, the CFIA reversed itself less than 24 hours after Dr. Kattenburg learned of the CFIA’s initial – and correct – decision to bar the sale and importation of these falsely labelled wines.

On August 6, 2017, Dr. Kattenburg filed an appeal with the CFIA’s Complaints and Appeals Office (CAO). Annex 1 to Dr. Kattenburg’s Appeal Intake Form, which sets forth the factual and legal basis of Dr. Kattenburg’s appeal, was posted on this website and can be viewed here.

Today, in my capacity as Dr. Kattenburg’s legal counsel, I filed with the CAO a supplemental letter setting forth additional facts and arguments in support of Dr. Kattenburg’s appeal. That letter is set forth below, in its entirety. Continue Reading ›

Niki Ashton: Supporting an NDP leader who shares our values

We are among the many Canadians who are joining the New Democratic Party  or renewing our membership in order to support Niki Ashton’s bid to become NDP leader. We invite you to join us in supporting her candidacy.

Niki Ashton was the first leadership candidate to courageously choose to address Palestine in her federal platform. Since then, she has shown consistent and principled support for the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination, justice and dignity. She has used her platform to commemorate the Nakba and to stand with Palestinian hunger strikers held in Israeli administrative detention. She has been unapologetic and fearless when confronted with criticisms of these stances.

The conditions under which Palestinians now live are so appalling, and our government’s complicity in that suffering is so profound, that demanding justice for Palestinians ought now to be considered a political litmus test. A candidate who supports human rights for Palestinians shows that she understands the key issues and is courageous enough to address them in the face of public criticism. If this litmus test is failed, that candidate will eventually disappoint you on any other issues that matter to you.

For this reason, along with her continued commitments to our indigenous community, environmental justice, universal access to healthcare, free tuition and student debt relief, and ending gender-based violence and discrimination, we believe Niki Ashton is the only way forward for the New Democratic Party, and for Canada as a whole.

Currently, Canada’s government accords charitable status to the Jewish National Fund, which discriminates against Palestinians in the allocation of land in Israel. Canada’s government encourages extensive trade between the Canadian and Israeli military industries. Canada’s government votes consistently against United Nations resolutions condemning Israel’s human rights abuses, even though those resolutions enjoy overwhelming international support. Canada’s government allows products produced in Israel’s settlements – which constitute a war crime – to be sold in Canada bearing deceptive “Product of Israel” labels. As if this were not enough, our government is sitting idly by while Israel renders life unbearable for the 2 million inhabitants of Gaza. Trapped in a crumbling and sweltering open air prison with little if any electricity and meagre rations of food, the people of Gaza, one half of whom are children, have been reduced to a cruel experiment in the limits of human endurance.

To challenge all this, we need political leadership that speaks out fearlessly in favour of human rights for everyone. This is where you come in. This is what you need to know to make Niki Ashton the next leader of the New Democratic Party.

To vote for Niki, you must be an NDP member. Some of you may have supported another political party in the past, but no political party deserves unconditional loyalty. A political party deserves your support only when it is a vehicle to a better world. Our overarching loyalty ought to be to the values of justice, humanity and sustainability. A candidate who embodies those values, a candidate like Niki Ashton, deserves your support regardless of your past political affiliation.

Joining the NDP is simple. You can join through Niki’s official website, (nikiashton2017.ca), where you can also donate to her campaign or become a volunteer. If you’re under 26 years old or if you are un(der)employed, joining the NDP costs only $5. If you’re over 26 and employed full-time, the cost is $25 for a one-year membership. The last day to become a party member and vote for the next NDP leader is August 17. Online voting for the leadership race opens on September 18.

Niki has the courage of her convictions to win this race, but she can’t do it alone. It’s going to take all of us to make her the next leader of the New Democratic Party.

 

Dimitri Lascaris, Farida Fareh Lascaris, Stephanie Kelly, David Heap

Dr. David Kattenburg Files Appeal from Canadian Food Inspection Agency Decision to Allow False and Deceptive Labels on Wines from Illegal Israeli Settlements

In January 2017, Dr. David Kattenburg, a resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba whose parents were Holocaust survivors, filed a complaint with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint was that the LCBO was selling two wines produced in Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank, and that those wines were falsely labelled as “Product of Israel.” The wines about which he complained were Shiloh Legend KP 2012 and Psagot Winery M Series, Chardonnay KP 2014.

By March 2017, the LCBO had not resolved Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint. Dr. Kattenburg therefore filed a complaint directly with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which is mandated by law to ensure that food and beverages sold in Canada are accurately labelled.

On July 12, 2017, Dr. Kattenburg learned from a post on the Facebook page of B’Nai Brith Canada that, on July 6, 2017, the CFIA had directed the LCBO to order its wine vendors to cease the sale and importation of these settlement wines due to the fact that their labels were false.

The CFIA immediately came under intense pressure from the Israeli government and its advocates in Canada, including B’Nai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and Michael Levitt. Levitt, a Liberal MP for York Centre, is the Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. These advocates for Israel, who describe their Israel advocacy as ‘relentless’, professed ‘shock’ and ‘dismay’ that a Canadian consumer protection agency would have the temerity to require wines produced in Israel’s illegal settlements to be labelled accurately.

As a result of their pressure, the CFIA reversed itself less than 24 hours after Dr. Kattenburg learned of the CFIA’s initial – and correct – decision to bar the sale and importation of these falsely labelled wines.  Citing an obscure provision of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), the CFIA claimed not to have given adequate consideration to CIFTA and, remarkably, apologized for its decision.

On August 6, 2017, in my capacity as Dr. Kattenburg’s legal counsel, I transmitted to the CFIA’s Complaints and Appeals office Dr. Kattenburg’s appeal from the CFIA’s decision to continue to allow these settlement wines to be falsely labelled.  Dr. Kattenburg has decided to make available to the public Annex 1 to his Appeal Intake Form. Annex 1 sets forth the factual and legal basis of Dr. Kattenburg’s appeal. It is reproduced below in its entirety.

If this appeal to the CFIA’s Complaints and Appeals Office does not result in a prohibition on the importation and sale in Canada of falsely labelled settlement wines, it is Dr. Kattenburg’s intention to file an application for judicial review of the CFIA’s decision in the Federal Court of Canada. Continue Reading ›

Indigenous Groups Win One, Lose One in the Supreme Court of Canada

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada released two important decisions relating to indigenous rights.

In one decision, the Court upheld a ruling by Canada’s controversial National Energy Board that allowed pipeline company Enbridge to expand Line 9. Line 9 is a tar sands pipeline that lies on the territory of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in southern Ontario. Line 9 will now carry highly toxic heavy crude across the Thames River.

In its second decision, the Court struck down an authorization given by the NEB to various petroleum exploration companies that would have allowed those companies to conduct seismic testing in Arctic waters off of Clyde River hamlet in Nunavut.

In this interview for The Real News, I discuss the implications of these two decisions with Jerry Nattanine, the former mayor of Clyde River, and Eugene Kung, a lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law:

http://therealnews.com/t2/story:19648:Indigenous-Groups-Win-One%2C-Lose-One-in-the-Canadian-Supreme-Court

 

Israel Flouts International Law While Targeting Human Rights Defenders

In October 2016, Hagai El-Ad, the Director of Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, made an extraordinary, direct appeal to the U.N. Security Council to take decisive action to end Israel’s brutal, 50-year occupation of Palestinian Territories. Two months later, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2334, which condemns Israel’s “flagrant violation” of international law. In this interview for The Real News, I speak to B’Tselem’s spokesperson Amit Gilutz about Israel’s complete disregard for Security Council resolution 2334 and the Netanyahu government’s relentless efforts to intimidate and silence courageous human rights defenders like those of B’Tselem. My interview of Amit Gilutz can be watched here:

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=19623#.WXi4V0RVUM4.facebook

 

G20 Protestors Call for An Alternative To the Neoliberal Order

On the Real News, I speak to Professor Patrick Bond about the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Professor Bond was in Hamburg throughout the summit and discusses the suppression of peaceful protest by German authorities and the complete absence of any concrete agreements at the G20 summit to address the climate crisis or grotesque inequalities around the world. My interview of Professor Bond can be watched here:

http://therealnews.com/t2/story:19510:G20-Protestors-Call-for-An-Alternative-To-the-Neoliberal-Order