The Canadian government has vehemently denied a media report that it is considering applying hate crime laws against Boycott Israel-BDS sponsors.
The original report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s (CBC) Neil Macdonald has been called into question by Honest Reporting (HR), which said that the writer jumped to illogical conclusions in the article that was falsely headlined “Ottawa Threatening Hate Charges against Those Who Boycott Israel.”
CBC later toned down the headline to delete the word “threatening” because there was no such threat, except in the imagination of Macdonald. Honest Reporting wrote that Macdonald’s “animus against Israel is well-known.”
His story was clearly his own imitative and was written after he asked the government what exactly it meant by statements that Ottawa would show “zero tolerance” for those who promote boycotts of Israel.
The Jewish Press reported the CBC story here yesterday. The office of Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney stated in a speech at the United Nations in January:
[Canada has] zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination including in rhetoric towards Israel, and attempts to delegitimize Israel such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
His spokeswoman Josée Sirois, asked by Macdonald what he meant and if Blaney intends to work against the BDS movement, e-mailed him that Canada has “one of the most comprehensive sets of laws against hate crime anywhere in the world.” She added that Canada’s Criminal Code applies to the promotion of hate against an “identifiable group,” which includes those of “national origin.”
After Macdonald wrote his article of the supposed “threat” to punish those who boycott Israel, Blaney’s office responded:
This story is inaccurate and ridiculous. These laws have been on the books for many years and have not changed…. We won’t dignify this bizarre conspiracy theory with further comment.
CBC’s “correction” insisted that the response “appears to contradict the email comments” by Sirois.
The Jewish Press wrote here yesterday that applying hate crime laws to the BDS movement would raise questions of freedom of speech, a supposed threat that may be exactly what Macdonald wanted to promote.
CBC wrote in its correction, “Those who support BDS fear that the change in the law could lump in people who speak against Israel with those who are anti-Semitic.”
Honest Reporting has asked CBC for some clarifications and charged the national media outlet with violating standards.
Concerning the original headline that Ottawa “threatened” hate crime charges against BDS promoters, HR wrote, “Can the CBC even cite one such example? The article itself does not contain anything to substantiate this charge except conjecture and Mr. Macdonald’s deductive reasoning, along with his forming conclusions based on some statements made by senior officials….
“In fact, Mr. Macdonald only says that ‘The Harper government is signaling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.’ This may or may not be the case, but there’s a marked difference between signaling intentions and claiming outright that the government has already ‘threatened’ those who boycott Israel.”
The possibility, if not probability, that Macdonald and CBC have an agenda to trump up charges against the government is supported by another headline, in a different article, that CBC had to change, according to HR.
The headline “McMaster students who boycott Israel among those who could face hate crime charges” was changed to “Are McMaster’s Israel boycott advocates among those who could face hate crime charges?”
HR said that “CBC adroitly changed the headline from a claim to a question and never did publicly disclose that the headline had been amended, a violation of CBC standards. The same violation occurred in the CBC’s failure to publicly acknowledge it edited its original inflammatory headline to Macdonald’s article.”