TORONTO, May 13, 2015 /CNW/ - In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, The United Church of Canada has asked for clear reassurance that the government does not intend to limit the democratic rights and freedoms of individuals and organizations opposed to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.
The church's letter was prompted by a recent CBC news story that cited the possibility of the government using hate crime laws to clamp down on activities they consider to be singling out Israel for criticism.
"The CBC story picks up on concerns in the larger Canadian context about a growing climate of fear and possible infringements of democratic rights through recent legislation. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney has said that the concerns raised in the CBC article are 'inaccurate and ridiculous.' However, coupled with comments made by the Minister himself at the United Nations in New York, and by his office in response to a request for clarification as to the meaning of 'zero tolerance,' we believe that Canadians need clear reassurance from our government," says the letter.
In 2013, The United Church of Canada launched a multi-faceted awareness-raising and advocacy campaign that includes a very focused economic action initiative against goods produced in the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The church is not advocating a boycott of Israel and would not describe itself as being part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
"The church's actions are consistent with our understandings of the shared value Canadians have for the democratic right of freedom of expression. The United Church of Canada stands in solidarity with groups and individuals exercising this right in non-violent, peaceful ways," says the letter.
SOURCE United Church of Canada
For further information: Mary-Frances Denis, Media and Public Relations, The United Church of Canada, Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016, Cell: 416-400-7273, E-mail: [email protected]