CUPE 1281 Rejects the Anti-Democratic Passing of the Order in Council (OIC) and Bill 168 that Silence Palestinians and Threaten, Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom

On Tuesday, October 27, 2020 the Ontario Government made the anti-democratic choice to bypass the committee consideration and public consultations on Bill 168, the Combatting Anti-Semitism Act and instead adopted the flawed IHRA definition of antisemitism through an Order in Council. Once again, the Ontario Government has abused their power and stifled democracy by abruptly disrupting the legislative process and adopting the definition without public consultation or the due legislative process as promised.

Bill 168 aims to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples into law. The flawed IHRA definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples conflate legitimate critiques of Israel and Zionism with antisemitism and therefore silence Palestinians and their allies, further normalize racism against Palestinians, and threaten freedom of speech and academic freedom. Antisemitism is real and deadly and its threat is increasing with the rise in white supremacy and the far right around the world. We join our allies in Independent Jewish Voices in rejecting the flawed and vague IHRA definition of antisemitism and its list of illustrative examples as unhelpful in combating antisemitism, and we stand with them in this important fight.

The Ontario Government panicked and passed Bill 168 abruptly because of the strong opposition they faced by the general public. The Palestinian Youth Movement and the Toronto BDS Network organized mass phone calls to the Standing Committee to block Bill 168 and Independent Jewish Voices Canada

organized a petition garnering thousands of signatures that targeted Members of Provincial Parliament to vote no against the bill. More than 100 Ontarians and organizations had also requested to attend the public hearings and present their views on the Bill. Bill 168 continues to have strong opposition from many academics, researchers, labour unions and community organizations, such as; CUPE Ontario, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Candian Federation of Students- Ontario, and more.

It’s crucial that Palestinians, academics, activists, labour unions and the general public, must have the right to criticize the State of Israel for continued human rights violations, land annexations and their illegal occupation of Palestinian territory; just like we have the right to criticize Canada and foreign states.

CUPE 1281 rejects Bill 168 and the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its list of illustrative examples and will continue to act in solidarity with the Palestinian community and fight all forms of biggotry, racism and discrimination, including Islamophobia and antisemitism.