Voters in the United Kingdom – well, in England and Wales, at least – have decided to quit the European Union. The referendum last week turned British politics, and world economic markets, upside down.
The potential for a Scottish withdrawal from the United Kingdom is again front and centre. More than this, politicians and commentators worldwide are extrapolating the vote’s meaning across Europe and North America to try to comprehend the potential impacts of a coalescence of disgruntled, anti-elitist, populist, nativist and xenophobic tendencies. Already, the result seems to have given licence to some people to act out on xenophobic hatred, with numerous incidents of verbal and physical assaults against visible minorities reported across Britain in just the couple of days following the referendum.
Among those who supported the losing “Remain” campaign are some who threaten to move to Canada. This is a default for Americans and now, apparently, Brits who dislike the democratic outcomes in their own countries. The Canada strategy is much talked about but rarely executed. Ironically, people from countries that move toward exclusionary practices and tightened immigration policies assume that Canada is an uncategorically welcoming place that would greet them with open arms. On Canada Day, of all times, we should take it as a compliment that our reputation is one of haven and acceptance.
And yet … while Europe may be aflame with xenophobia and demagoguery, Canada is not immune to strains of something nasty. The current example comes from none other than Canada’s Green party.
For a movement that ostensibly subscribes to the precept of thinking globally and acting locally, the policy resolutions for the party’s August convention are starkly parochial. Only two items proposed for consideration approach foreign affairs issues – and both attack Israel.
One resolution calls for the party to join the BDS movement to boycott, divest from and sanction the Jewish state. More hypocritically still, the Green party is seeking to have the Jewish National Fund of Canada’s charitable status revoked. That a Green party would target one of the world’s oldest and most successful environmental organizations is symptomatic of something irrational in the mindset of those who promulgated the resolution. Whether it advances to the convention floor – and what happens then – will tell us a great deal about the kind of people who make up the Green Party of Canada.
In a world where human-made and natural catastrophes seem unlimited, from the entire population of Green party members across Canada, only two statements of international concern bubble to the surface – and both are broadsides against the Jewish people.
Elizabeth May, the party’s leader and sole MP, said she opposes both resolutions but, since the determination of policy is made on the basis of one member one vote, there is a limited amount she can do. She met last week with Rafael Barak, Israel’s ambassador to Canada, and said the Green party’s support for Israel’s right to exist is “immovable.”