Volokh: ‘Ottawa considering hate charges against those who boycott Israel’

A very troubling story from CBC News (Neil Macdonald):

The Harper government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.

Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions….

The government’s intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a “zero tolerance” approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws “anywhere in the world.”

“I can tell you that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of laws against hate crime anywhere in the world,” wrote Sirois.

I think a good deal of the Boycott/Divest/Sanction movement, which attempts to hold Israel to standards that are not applied to pretty much any other country, is indeed driven by anti-Semitism. But so what?…

…How can public debate about the policies of one’s own country, and of powerful institutions within one’s own country — a debate that is the essence of democratic self-government — effectively continue if one side is threatened with punishment for expressing its positions?…


Here’s Ezra’s take on the Ceeb story…