The following letter was sent to BC Attorney General David Eby on December 9, 2019. Once again, he has chosen to ignore our concerns and refuses to respond with any explanation.
Dear Mr. Eby:
Since we sent you our letter on Oct. 17, 2018 regarding your refusal to remove Israeli wines from BC Liquor Stores, we have not received any further reply regarding our concerns.
Since then significant developments have taken place, and we would like to bring them to your attention.
- On July 29 of this year, the Federal Court ruled that “product of Israel” labels from wines made in the West Bank, in the occupied Palestinian territories are “false, misleading and deceptive,” and ordered the removal of such labels.
- On August 2nd, 2019, the NDP issued a statement in support of this Court ruling that stated:
“New Democrats welcome this decision, which we view as a step forward for justice in Israel and Palestine…These settlements are illegal and clearly violate the fourth Geneva Convention…Products made in illegal settlements that are imported into Canada with “Product of Israel” labels fly in the face of the Government of Canada’s policy on the status of Palestinian territory as well as international law.”
- On September 6, 2019 “Canada’s attorney general announced he was appealing a recent federal court ruling that banned labeling wines made in West Banks settlements as products of Israel…The announcement…put the Canadian government squarely in the limelight as openly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
- On November 12, 2019, the Guardian reported that: “The European Union’s top court has ruled that EU countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements on their labels, in a decision welcomed by rights groups but likely to spark anger in Israel. The European court of justice said: ‘Foodstuffs originating in the territories occupied by the state of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin’.”
- During the past federal elections, the “I Vote Palestine” campaign received a YES answer from the
NDP relating to two BDS questions:
* Do you recognize the rights of Canadians to support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions BDS movement as a non-violent strategy to force Israel to abide by UN resolutions and all international humanitarian laws?
* Do you oppose condemning or criminalizing people or organizations who support the BDS Movement?
Your stated reason for keeping “Made in Israel” wines on the shelves was that, “It is the Liquor Distribution Branch’s (LDB) policy to respect its customers’ right to make choices”. We should inform you this reasoning is flawed; actually it is the opposite of the ruling of the Canadian Federal Court which stated: “because the wines weren’t labelled as products of the West Bank, Canadians were unable to make informed decisions as consumers, particularly if they wanted to ‘buy conscientiously’.” And it is also the opposite of the EU court ruling: “labelling of products from Israeli settlements must provide an ‘indication of that provenance’ so consumers could make “informed choices” when they shopped.”
We urge you to reconsider your position and respond positively to the thirty-one groups, that signed the original letter asking you to take action regarding “Made in Israel” wines in B.C. Liquor Stores. As stated in that letter, and still valid today, all of the Israeli wines currently in stock “are either from the Galil Winery, which is a joint venture with the Golan Heights Winery (the name of which speaks for itself), or from the occupied West Bank, including the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc around Jerusalem.”
Please “have the courage” to “stand up for what is right” as the “NDP Statement on Federal Court Decision on ‘Product of Israel’ Labels” claimed when stating that the party believes in a principled foreign policy . “The NDP will always stand up for what is right, even when others don’t have the courage to do it.”
If this is true and not just crass political opportunism, then we expect concrete action in situations like this where you are in a position to make a difference. A year ago, you informed us: “my schedule does not allow me to meet with you at this time.” Does your schedule now allow for addressing our human rights concerns?
Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association
Aiyanas Ormond, Coordinator, BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish
c.c. John Horgan, Premier of BC, [email protected]
Jagmeet Singh, NDP Leader, [email protected]
All Signatory Groups on the Open Letter