Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

February 24, 2009 15:31 ET

MEDIA RELEASE-"Read before you speak, Minister Kenney"

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 24, 2009) - Minister of Multiculturalism Jason Kenney should read the motion adopted by Ontario university sector members on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before passing judgement, says Sid Ryan, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

"Clearly, Mr. Kenney has been poorly briefed about the spirit and intent of the motion," Ryan says. "If he read it a little more carefully, he'd see for himself that it encourages peaceful ways to resolve the conflict."

The motion on the Middle East affirms the right to education for Palestinians; calls for educational events on campuses; encourages research into military connections between Ontario and Israeli universities; and, where these connections exist, calls for a lobby of Ontario universities to refuse to conduct research that benefits the Israeli military. The resolution does not call for a boycott of individual Israeli academics or all Israeli academic institutions.

Ryan said that defenders of Israel's military action in Gaza - which killed over 1400 people, including hundreds of children - are far too quick to label critics as "intolerant."

"It is a sign of desperation to intentionally slur critics of the Israeli state's military offensives against a trapped civilian population as being 'intolerant'," Ryan says. "Clearly, the best defence is a good offence, no matter how scurrilous and self-serving."

Motion #1

The OUWCC will:

1. Affiliate to the RIGHT TO EDUCATION campaign at Birzeit University to defend the right of Palestinian students to have access to education and educational institutions in the Palestinian territory, and seek to raise awareness about the issues facing Palestinian education, students and teachers under Israeli military occupation, and further that it will encourage member locals to affiliate to the Right to Education campaign

2. Encourage its member locals to hold public forums to discuss an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and

3. Ask campus representatives to work with locals to investigate both research and investment links between Ontario Universities and the state of Israel's military, and

4. Mobilize campus allies to pressure universities from engaging in acts of cooperation that assist and aid military research at the institutional level with Israeli universities;

5. Work with campus and community allies to pressure Ontario universities to refuse collaborations, corporate partnerships and investments that would benefit, either directly or indirectly, military research or the Israeli state military;

6. Request funding and support from CUPE Ontario to conduct an education campaign on the academic boycott, coordinate education sessions and assist in the implementation of resolution 50 as passed in 2006

Because, in response to a call from Palestinian civil society and trade unions, CUPE Ontario's Resolution 50 (in 2006) calls upon the Union and its locals to support boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) of the state of Israel, so long as that state continues to occupy Palestinian territory and refuses to respect and uphold international law and covenants, and

Because the latest Israeli attack on Gaza killed over 1300 people, wounded thousands, and destroyed hospitals, schools, roads, power plants, sewage and water infrastructure, and thousands of civilian homes, and as a direct consequence of the attacks by the Israeli military, the Gazan education system has been unable to function, and

Because Israel's direct bombing of universities and schools and its years-long blockade forbidding educational supplies, fuel and other basic necessities, or movement of people including students and teachers, has brought about the collapse of the education system in Gaza, and

Because all three major Palestinian trade union federations are signatories of the Palestinian Civil Society for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions call including: The General Union of Palestinian Workers, PGFTU, and the Federation of Independent Unions.

Contact Information

  • CUPE Ontario
    Sid Ryan
    Cell: (416) 209-0066
    CUPE Communications
    David Robbins
    Cell: (613) 878-1431