Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Under the Harper Government, on November 29, 2012 Canada was one of only nine countries to vote against ‘symbolic’ Palestinian statehood.

On November 8th, 2016, Canada’s new Trudeau Government was one of just 6 countries to vote against the 1949 Geneva Conventions applying to Occupied Palestine
UNWAtch: Today: UN condemned Israel 10 times

The Government of Canada’s own website says:

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Support for the Palestinians

Canada recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination and supports the creation of a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestinian state, as part of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement.

Canada recognizes the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the governmental entity in the West Bank and Gaza. Canada also recognizes the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the principal representative of the Palestinian people Canada continues to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and is working with the government led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in terms of much needed reform.

Working with its partners and through the United Nations, its agencies and other organizations, Canada continues to support and respond to the humanitarian and development needs of the Palestinian people. At the Paris Donors Conference in December 2007, Canada announced a commitment of $300 million over 5 years towards improving Palestinian security, governance and prosperity.

Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Occupied Territories and Settlements

Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories. As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.

Canada believes that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority must fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law which is key to ensuring the protection of civilians, and can contribute to the creation of a climate conducive to achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement.

The Canadian Government speaks for Canada.  As a part of the International Community, a member of the UN, as a high contracting signatory of the Geneva Conventions, Canada has the duty to stay within International Law, but to hold other nations to account when they fail to do so.

When Canada fails to live up to its obligations, it falls to Canada’s opposition parties to hold the government of the day to account.  And yet, in spite of Canada’s published policy on Isreal and Palestine, we have Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government policy to be indistinguishable from Mr. Harper’s Conservative Government.  Compounding matters, the NDP under Tom Mulcair seems to have the very same policy objectives.

Unlike these three parties, the Green Party of Canada has taken a different view.  A view in tune with Canada’s published policy and with International Law.

The Green Party of Canada adopted the Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution at its August 2016 Policy Convention. In December a more comprehensive consensus resolution was put forward by the GPC Shadow Cabinet and adopted by a strong majority (85%) at a Special General meeting in Calgary. Assuming this resolution is ratified, it will replace the August resolution; if not, the original will stand as GPC policy.

Although there it took some negotiation to bring it to a vote, on Friday December 23rd, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2334

@UN tweets

President elect Donald Trump was less than pleased; perhaps he expects to be able to overturn the resolution after his inauguration. (It doesn’t work that way.)  And it seems former Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to oppose the established Canadian policy of conforming to International Law, and actually tweeted in support of the American President Elect.

@StephenHarper tweets Thank you President-elect @realDonaldTrump for being a principled voice on Israel at the #UN

My hope for the new year is a proper peace between Israel and Palestine.

The resolution adopted this afternoon is pro-Israel in the deepest sense of the term, supporting Israel’s existence and security, and standing against those who would sacrifice both at the altar of settlements, for an ideological, expansionist agenda.

This resolution reiterates international consensus, grounded in previous Security Council resolutions and international law, dating back nearly five decades, regarding the illegitimacy of settlements and rejecting settlement-related policies of successive Israeli governments.

APN commends the Obama Administration’s decision to stand with all past U.S. president since 1967 in maintaining U.S. opposition to settlements, and to reaffirm longstanding U.S. positioning and language in the Security Council on this issue.

— Americans for Peace Now (APN) Welcomes UNSC Vote on Israeli-Palestinian Peace

peace_dove
Peace on earth, good will toward men.

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Democracy Primer

What’s So Bad About First Past The Post?

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag backgroundThis is the third in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

Lets start with the basics.

Sometimes human beings are loners, hermits who shun other humans. But that is rare.

Most human beings are social in nature.  We want to be together, to live in proximity to other humans.  We want to play together and we learn to work together.   In order for people to co-exist, human society requires some sort of boundaries. Rules.

Individual humans start out as part of a family unit.  The family unit fits into human society as part of some kind of tribe. In the modern world collections of tribes have come together to form countries. Each nation establishes its character in the style and form of policy and the framework of rules— laws— set down by its government.

There are two basic paths human beings have taken in our approach government.

Authoritarianism

Autocracy, OligarchyTotalitarianism, Dictatorship, Monarchy, Empire, Fascism… there are many different systems in which the government is all powerful and citizens are powerless.  Such governments might choose to treat citizens benevolently.  Or not.  The government decides and the citizens have no choice but to comply.

British Library illuminated medieval manuscript image of King Phillip Coronation

Democracy

Citizens very often prefer to have a say in their own governance, and this can be achieved with a democratic system of government.

According to political scientist Larry Diamond, it consists of four key elements: (a) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; (b) The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; (c) Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and (d) A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.[3]

The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”,[4] which was found from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (krátos) “power” or “rule”, in the 5th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens; the term is an antonym to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratía) “rule of an elite”.

Wikipedia: Democracy

Democracy draws its power and legitimacy from the support and consent of its citizens.  There are two basic ways of achieving democracy.

Democracy

Direct Democracy

All qualified citizens have the right to represent their own interests in government.  In ancient Greece, each citizen spoke for themselves, making laws by “decree of the plebs” or plebiscite.

plebiscite (noun)

  1. a direct vote of the qualified voters of a state in regard to some important public question.
  2. the vote by which the people of a political unit determine autonomy or affiliation with another country.

In a country where qualified voters number in the millions, the closest we can get to direct democracy is through holding a special plebiscite in which all qualified citizens of a state can vote on an important issue.  As digital technology progresses, there may come a time when all Canadian voters will be both qualified and able to vote electronically on every issue directly. But in today’s world, the closest we come to this is through the difficult and expensive mechanism known as a referendum.

referendum (noun)

  1. the principle or practice of referring measures proposed or passed by a legislative body to the vote of the electorate for approval or rejection.
  2. a measure thus referred.
  3. a vote on such a measure.

Representative Democracy

Since it would be hard to fit millions of people into the Parliament Buildings, like most modern democracies, Canada uses a form of Representative Democracy.  Instead of speaking for ourselves, all qualified citizens have the right to elect a representative we believe will best represent our interests in Parliament.  Although some Canadians wish it were different, referendums are not a feature of the Canadian political system.  In nearly a century and a half, our government has had only three referendums: on prohibition (in 1898), conscription (World War II) and whether to accept the Charlottetown Accord (Constitutional Amendments).  Certainly our choice of voting system was not made through this mechanism.

The procedure by which qualified voters determine who our representative will be is called an electoral system.  The different elements that go together to make up an electoral system determine:

  • the structure of the ballot
  • how votes are cast
  • the way votes are counted, and
  • the criteria needed to win

Although I have been breaking this down for simplicity, there are many ways to design electoral systems.  Most (if not all) of the electoral systems in use around the world are hybrids, as ours here in Canada is.  Our representative democracy is part of a constitutional monarchy; we share England’s monarch. In understanding our options, the most crucial distinction between types of electoral systems comes down to which family they are in.

Representative Democracy can be broken down into two main families: Winner-take-all or Proportional Representation.

Winner-take-all

Just as it sounds, a winner-take-all election is an “all or nothing” proposition.  A election which can only have a single winner necessarily ends up with the single winner getting all the power.

And when elections can only produce a single winner, unless that winner achieved 100% of the votes, there will be losers, too.  The candidate(s) who fails to win loses.  Naturally, the citizens who didn’t vote for winner end up without any representation at all.  They’re losers too.

In Canada we use a winner-take-all single member plurality system better known as First Past The Post.  Although many Canadians believe this system produces majority government it doesn’t.

A majority is defined as 50% + 1.  If there are more than 2 candidates competing for a single seat, with First Past The Post the candidate doesn’t needs to win 50% + 1 ~ s/he just needs to win more votes than any of the others.

Because Canadians aren’t happy with only two political parties, very often we elect MPs with far fewer than 50% of the votes.  In the 2015 Canadian Federal Election, 28.99% of the votes cast were enough to elect Bernard Généreux Member of Parliament for the Montmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.  That’s a long way from 50% + 1.

But even 50% + 1 can leave as many as 49.9% of voters without representation at all.  That’s why I’ve become a fan of:

Proportional Representation

Vote_iconXProportional Representation isn’t the name of any single electoral system, it is a phrase that describes an electoral outcome where 39% of the vote can’t win 100% of the seats in Parliament.  Proportional Representation ensures 39% of the votes wins 39% of the seats.

Instead of polarizing citizens into winners and losers, a proportional system seeks to elect a government that reflects all citizens, by providing representation to all eligible voters.   More than 90 countries around the world (85% of OECD countries) use some form of Proportional Representation, so there is a great deal of information about how such systems work.

In Canada, over the last decade or so, Ten Canadian Commissions, Assemblies and Reports have recommended proportional representation for Canada.  In addition, Liberal MP Stéphane Dion developed his own P3 system, and later this year the Province of Prince Edward Island will consider adopting another newly devised proportional system, Sean Graham‘s Dual Member Mixed Proportional.

As this series progresses, I’ll look at the different electoral systems that have been or might reasonably be on offer for Canada.  If you aren’t already overwhelmed, I’ve provided links throughout the article so you can find out more detail from the supporting on your own.

And you might be interested in what Craig Scott had to say about Proportional Representation:

The great resource is the grass roots multi-partisan organization that advocates for meaningful Canadian electoral reform: Fair Vote Canada. You can check out their website, but you’ll also find chapters across Canada.  My local is the very active Fair Vote Waterloo Region Chapter.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image Credits:

Medievalart on Tumblr led me to the gorgeous public domain image Detail of a miniature of the coronation ceremonies of Philip (Coronation of King Phillip).   This artwork is part of the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts the British Library generously makes available to the public online.

Found in Wikimedia Commons, Vote icon is an original artwork dedicated to the Public Domain by its creator openclipart.org.

My Families of Electoral Systems mini poster & Democracy Flags are original artwork dedicated to the Public Domain

What’s So Bad About First Past The Post?

Proportional Representation For Canada series so far:

• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616
#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
• International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD
• An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals

and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

Loose Ties make WikiLeaks Strong

I can’t get over the fact that Tom Flanagan didn’t understand suggesting assassination was inappropriate.

Tom Flanagan thought assassinating Julian Assange was reasonable.

Canadians are becoming angry at the arrogance of our elected officials and their unelected advisors.

Canadian Flag

Democracies around the world are facing calls for electoral reform. Coincidence?

Like Wikipedia, democracy can be altered in a heartbeat.

If we don’t protect our democracies, we’ll lose them.

The other night I stayed up far too late because I wanted to know that WikiLeaks was alright. Because I think WikiLeaks is important,

WikiLeaks shines a light on important issues– issues that the powerful and the self important want to keep dark.

Which is why powerful forces are arrayed against WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange is facing charges that I think even the most naïve schoolchild would realize are trumped up, along with both cyber and economic attacks, topped off with death threats. Wonder if that’s enough jeopardy for Malcolm Gladwell, who made the argument that real activism requires jeopardy in his New Yorker “Small Change” article, which prompted my rebuttal Tie Theory.

WikiLeaks is kind of a hybrid activist/news media. It is a truly international organization. Its only country is the Internet. That was the other fault Gladwell had with Internet activism: he thinks that activism requires people to be closely tied. WikiLeaks depends on being a “loose tie” network. You don’t get much looser than total strangers. Total strangers opt to host or mirror WikiLeaks on their computers. Because the more copies there are, the more spread out the network is, the looser the ties, the more difficult it is to shut it down.

In my post yesterday I called on the Pirate Party of Canada to be a Canadian host of WikiLeaks. I don’t know if they’ll do it or not, all I know is what I’ll do.

I am Hosting #cablegate

[Disclaimer: No, I don’t actually know how to set up something like this myself; I had help. 🙂 ]

You can peruse the cables at will on my Cablegate page,
or if you prefer to download or torrent You can do that here.

The thing is, I’m not alone. Here’s another list of WikiLeaks mirrors.

It isn’t much for one person to have to do, but there are rather a lot of us.

People connected through loose ties. We aren’t tied together by geography, ethnicity, family or religion, Malcolm, but only loosely connected by intangibles.

Ideas like:

#democracy,
#accountability,
#human rights,
#privacy…

That’s how “loose tie” networks work. And it’s also why loose tie networks can be superior.


WikiLeaks: Keep Us Strong


We all do what we can

You can just read the WikiLeaks Cablegate cables online. A new batch is released daily.

threethirty rt @WikiLeakMirror: Cables available at http colon slash slash bit dot ly slash ht6HqE semicolon includes LATEST cables bracket 12/4 bracket. Support free speech wikileaks #cablegate

Or, you can add your computer power to help, by seeding the WikiLeaks material that you have yourself downloaded via torrents.

rom1v  http colon slash slash 88 dot 80 dot 16 dot 63 slash torrent slash cablegate slash cablegate dash 201012041409 dot 7z dot torrent #wikileaks #backup #cablegate #statelogs

Or, last but not least, you can jump into the WikiLeaks network with both feet. Because the more spread out the network is, the more difficult it is to wipe out. This option is a bit more risky, particularly as it is lawmakers who want this stopped. Consider it carefully; remember you may wake up one morning to discover they have made this illegal.

jwildeboer  Are you brave enough? http colon slash slash 213.251.145.96 slash mass-mirror dot html #wikileaks #cablegate

Further Reading: Reporters Without Borders: WikiLeaks Hounded