Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
In this season of discernment and reflection we call Lent, I bring you greetings from The United Church of Canada. It has come to my attention that the following motion is before the House of Commons:
“That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”
On behalf of The United Church of Canada, I am writing to express strong concern about this motion. During your campaign, you expressed your vigilance to uphold and protect Canada’s fundamental commitment to democracy. We ask that your government defeat this motion and uphold the fundamental freedoms of “thought, belief, opinion, and expression” as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The United Church seeks to live into a vision of Canada as a just society within a caring world, expressed in active, thoughtful involvement in society. This is reflected in the church’s commitment to working with others seeking peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. This work is rooted in the gospel mandate to be peacemakers and in response to the calls of Palestinian and Israeli partners to join them in working toward a just peace for both peoples.
The United Church denounces all questions of Israel’s right to exist or that seek to undermine its legitimacy as a state. The church holds “zero tolerance” of anti-semitism whenever and wherever it occurs. We urge you and your government to be part of global efforts to promote a non-violent, negotiated end to the occupation and a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
The United Church of Canada does not describe itself as being part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. However, we do hold strong commitments to democratic rights and freedoms, which include the right of citizens to engage in constructive critique of both Canadian as well as foreign governments. The United Church of Canada stands in solidarity with groups and individuals exercising this right in nonviolent, peaceful ways. We urge you to stand firmly for democracy and defeat this motion.
My prayers and the prayers of our church are with you as exercise leadership on behalf of our nation. May God bless and guide you.
With deep respect,
The Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell
The United Church of Canada
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Leader, Conservative Party
Tom Mulcair, Leader, New Democratic Party
Rhéal Fortin, Leader, Bloc Québecois
Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada