jason kenney is at it again: defend free speech, defend the rights of palestinian canadians

Our illustrious Minister of Censorship and Deportation is at it again - attacking freedom of expression and those who defend the rights of Palestinians. This time his target is Palestine House, a Palestinian cultural and educational organization based in Mississauga, for its highly successful settlement program.

Last week, Palestine House was informed by the CIC that all funding for its immigration settlement program had been cut.

This must be seen as an entirely political decision, as it fits the broader pattern of government-led censorship and intimidation of anyone who is critical of Canada's foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Palestine.

See below for action alert. Meanwhile, some context:

• The Canadian Arab Federation - funding was cut by Kenney in February 2009, in response to its criticism of Harper's support for Israel’s attack on Gaza

• Former British MP George Galloway - banned from entering Canada by Kenney in March 2009, in response to his humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza

• Pathways to Peace, an academic conference at York University in June 2009 - funding threatened by an unprecedented intervention by a Conservative cabinet minister

KAIROS, "Canadian churches working for peace" - funding was cut in November 2009; Kenney later boasted to an audience in Jerusalem that the cut represented his government’s "zero tolerance" policy on anti-Semitism

Rights & Democracy, an organization "created by Canada's Parliament in 1988 to encourage and support the universal values of human rights and the promotion of democratic institutions and practices around the world" - Conservative-appointed board members cut funding in January 2010 to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs that were critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians

• The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) - Canadian funding was cut in January 2010; UNRWA administers health and education programs to 59 Palestinian refugee camps

• Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian democracy activist and former presidential candidate - denied entry to Canada for a speaking tour in March 2010

• Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual campus-based educational conference - condemned by Conservative MPs, who attempted to officially ban in it in March 2011

• Palestine solidarity in general, which the so-called "Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism" equates with anti-Semitism, in its report issued in July 2011

These attacks represent a serious threat to free speech in Canada, a loss of community workers' jobs, and a loss of the vital services they provide.

Please take a moment to email Jason Kenney and to Bob Dechert, the Conservative MP for Mississauga-Erindale (where Palestine House is located). Let them know you oppose this latest attack on free speech.

Step 1:
In your email message, cut-and-paste the following email addresses into the "To:" line:
jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca, Minister@cic.gc.ca, bob.dechert@parl.gc.ca, bob.dechert.c1@parl.gc.ca

Step 2:
Cut-and-paste info@PalestineHouse.com into the "Cc:" or "Bcc:" line. Let Palestine House know you support their demand to restore funding now.

Step 3:
Cut-and-paste "We support Palestine House. Restore funding now." into the Subject line.

Step 4:
Cut-and-paste the message below. If you choose, write your own personal statement at the beginning of the message. Please include your name and address at the end of the message.

I oppose your decision to cut federal funding for the successful immigration settlement program administered by Palestine House. This decision is not based on the success of the program (which your department has recognized), but on politics. I oppose any move by the Canadian government to penalize civil society and cultural organizations in Canada based on their legitimate political views. This represents an attack on free speech and free expression in Canada, and is contributing to the steady criminalization of Palestine solidarity initiatives in Canada. I call on you to reverse your decision and to restore immediately the federal funding for Palestine House's immigration settlement program. Thank you for your consideration.

Step 5:

Step 6:
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