Canadian Parliament approves motion to reject BDS movement

Association

Since the arrival of Trudeau’s liberal government, there has been greater protection and encouragement for freedom of association in Canada. The government increased the involvement of CSOs at international human rights meetings, such as UN Women, the Community of Democracies, G7 summit, and various government consultations on human rights. In addition, in the last two months, the Canadian government has invited all Canadian and international stakeholders, both individuals and CSOs, to participate in their national review on international assistance policies and programs. This process, which is open to the public, will evaluate opportunities for Canadians, individuals and CSOs, to participate in international assistance programs. This is a welcome change from the previous Canadian government’s ad hoc and selective approach to civil society consultation. Meanwhile, the right to unionise is being threatened in the province of Manitoba, where Premier Brian Pallister has proposed Bill 7 to eliminate the option for workers to form a union by a super-majority of cards. If Bill 7 passes, the only path to unionisation in Manitoba will be the drawn-out process of a formal vote in which workers could be exposed to harassment and threats from the boss in the lead-up to a vote. This law could pose a threat to unions nationwide if it passes.

Peaceful assembly

The Black Lives Matter movement has gained prominence in Canada in recent months, due to their popular and peaceful protests. The organisation has joined forces with First Nations groups to draw attention to police brutality in Canada. After the decision not to charge police officers for shooting Andrew Loku in 2015, Black Lives Matter Toronto joined by First Nations activists camped outside Police Headquarters for 15 days in protest. As a result of this pressure, the coroner has announced an inquest into Loku’s death and Mayor John Tory agreed to meet publicly with the activists. Black Lives Matter recently joined First Nations groups occupying government offices in Toronto to draw attention to attempted suicides in native communities. On June 27th, the Quebec Superior Court struck down Montreal’s controversial by-law P-6, which sought to constrict protests after the student demonstrations in 2012. Justice Masse declared Article 2.1 and 3.2 to be unconstitutional. These clauses had made it illegal for protestors to wear masks and required protestors to file their planned route with police before their protests.

Expression

The Canadian Parliament approved a motion to “reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement” and “call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organisations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad” on February 22. This measure presents a serious problem for supporters of the BDS movement, which non-violently protests Israel’s human rights policies towards the Palestinian people, and it has set a nationwide standard against peaceful anti-Israeli protests. Despite improved protection of Canada’s core freedoms, as laid out in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the threat of increased surveillance is growing. On June 19th, it was revealed that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have introduced a new counter-terror surveillance tool, Stingray, a technology that allows agencies to eavesdrop on mobile data and voice communication.