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Canada Announces it will Stop Selling Weapons to Israel

Following a massive pressure campaign by the Palestine solidarity movement, the Canadian government announced intention to halt weapons exports to the Zionist state.
Montrealers are rallying outside Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s home, calling for an end to Canada’s military and diplomatic support for Israeli genocide. Photo: IJV

Montrealers are rallying outside Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s home, calling for an end to Canada’s military and diplomatic support for Israeli genocide. Photo: IJV

On Tuesday, March 19, Canadian foreign affairs minister Mélanie Joly announced that the Canadian government would stop sending weapons to Israel. After over seven hours of debate, the Canadian parliament passed a non-binding motion to halt arms exports to Israel.

Although the amount of weaponry and aid that Canada sends to Israel pales in comparison to the United States’ whopping USD 4 billion per year contribution, Canada did send Israel USD 15 million in 2022 in military exports. According to a report from February in The Maple, the Canadian government has authorized USD 21 million in military exports during the first two months of Israel’s war on Gaza alone.

While Canada’s decision has been lambasted by Israeli officials, with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz stating that “History will judge Canada’s current action harshly,” millions in the Palestine solidarity movement around the world have been inspired to push their governments to do the same.  

The Canadian government’s move comes after a massive pressure campaign by the Palestine solidarity movement. “There is no doubt that the passing of this motion was a direct result of consistent pressure from the masses of people throughout Canada who have relentlessly mobilized and campaigned to demand justice for the Palestinian people,” wrote the Toronto chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement. 

However, PYM’s statement highlighted several caveats to the non-binding motion: “While this motion is a step in achieving the end of Canada’s collaboration in Israel’s genocide on Gaza, the Liberal Party amendments made clear what the red lines of Canada’s political class are: Canada must remain able to purchase weapons from the Israeli occupation regime, there will be no increase to the 1,000 cap on temporary visa applications for those fleeing Gaza, there will be no sanctions on Israeli occupation leaders who incite genocide, and there will be no official recognition of the Palestinian state.” 

The original motion, put forward by Heather McPherson of the center-left New Democratic Party, did indeed include several provisions that did not make it past Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party. These included calling on the Canadian government to “officially recognize the State of Palestine” and “suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel.” However, the final motion did agree to “cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel.”

Palestine solidarity activists are calling on Canadian officials to fully enforce the motion, especially as Minister Joly has declared that the ban on arms sales to Israel will not apply to military export permits approved before January 8. “Every export permit must be revoked… Given that Canada just approved a record-breaking volume of arms exports to Israel following October 7, it is important that Canada immediately revoke these permits before the weapons reach Israel,” writes Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

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