Controversy about Israeli military recruitment in Canada (revised report)

THOSE behind a legal complaint and public letter calling for an investigation into recruitment in Canada for the Israeli military, claimed on Wednesday that Justice Minister David Lametti stated that diplomats must respect Canadian law and that the issue will be referred to the authorities: the police and the public prosecutor for investigation.

However, Rachel Rappaport, Press Secretary for Lametti, emailed The VOICE: “In the Minister’s remarks, he explained that in the Canadian system, it is up to law enforcement to determine whether there is basis to believe that a breach of Canadian law has happened in a given situation, and if so, pursue an investigation accordingly. Law enforcement work directly with the relevant public prosecution service, who operate independently from the government.

Rappaport added: “The Minister did not order that an investigation be opened or confirm whether or not law enforcement have done so. It would not be appropriate for him to do so.”

The open letter was signed by Noam Chomsky, musician Roger Waters, filmmaker Ken Loach, poet El Jones, author Yann Martel, former MP Jim Manly and nearly 200 Canadians asking for an investigation into recruitment taking place in Canada for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Montreal lawyer John Philpot stated that he is pleased that Lametti has confirmed that diplomats must respect the law in Canada and that the issue will be referred to the police authorities and the public prosecutor. Philpot said: “The initiators of the formal legal complaint and open letter have reached out to the Justice Minister’s office to offer their collaboration in the upcoming investigation with the RCMP and the prosecutor’s office to provide additional evidence. It is illegal to recruit for a foreign military in Canada.”

Since Monday more than 1000 individuals have emailed the Justice Minister and every MP requesting an investigation into recruitment for the Israeli military in Canada. 

On Monday Le Devoir published a front-page story on the subject and did a follow up the next day.  

The letter and complaint can be viewed here.

This commentary looks at the history of Israeli military recruitment in Canada.