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Home arrow Focus on... arrow Censorship arrow Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House - CanPalNet ban reversed
Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House - CanPalNet ban reversed PDF Print E-mail
Jun 23, 2003 at 12:46 AM

Statement by the Canada Palestine Support Network
at a Report back from the West Bank
June 23, 2003

This evening's discussion has been organized by the Canada Palestine Support Network, or CanPalNet for short, which is the name of our website. As a member of the coordinating committee for CanPalNet I warmly welcome all of you.

Some of you already know of the work of CanPalNet. Others of you may not have attended our events before, or had an opportunity to speak with us.

So let me briefly explain that our organization has a very important, but simple goal: to uphold the democratic, human and national rights of the Palestinian people, the same as we would uphold these rights for ourselves in Canada, and uphold them without exception for people everywhere on this globe. Specifically, we dedicate our energies to calling for the implementation of international law, human rights law, and major United Nations resolutions on Palestine. Given that the government of Canada has in practice strayed from these principles, our practical work is to see that our government does uphold them.

In neighbourhoods across the lower mainland, throughout BC and in other parts of Canada, we are proud to have made a modest contribution to the growing awareness of and concern for the democratic, human, and national rights of the Palestinian people.

To the dismay of those dedicated to defending the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinian people, growing numbers of us in Canada have overcome decades of fear to speak simply and openly on this issue. You can see this, for example, by looking – on our literature table and on our website -- at the list of signatories of the statement we issued last year calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of territories invaded by the Israeli military in 1967 and since then illegally settled.

We recognize that some people find this topic controversial and threatening, and fear having a public discussion about it. Sometimes advocates of Israeli government practices seek to prevent the voices of CanPalNet and similar organizations from being heard. However, we believe that it is essential to speak about the Palestinian people as equal members of the human race in respect to their rights and dignity.

We for our part fear no democratic discussion. Indeed we welcome all, including those of you who disagree with us, to this meeting for an open discussion.

Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House has a longstanding history of respect for diversity in their rental policies. Some of you are aware that after agreeing to book this room with the Canada Palestine Support Network and signing a contract with us, the board -- without any prior discussion with us -- cancelled our booking. They told us this was because we were a "political" organization.

We were not alone in finding this an abrogation of Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House's previously healthy, democratic practice of making this publicly financed facility available, without political discrimination, to a wide range of community based organizations like ourselves. To single us out was to go from a non-political practice to a highly politicized one.

Happily, after hearing from numerous concerned groups and individuals, the board reversed its cancellation. We welcome that decision.

Upon its withdrawal of the mistaken cancellation of our booking, we were told that the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of Greater Vancouver will be drafting a revised rental policy consistent with their mandate to remain "non-political"- CanPalNet considers that by opening this facility to the diversity of groups in our communities, which its diversity policy calls for, the neighbourhood house maintains, in accord with its past practice, a non-political policy. By contrast, if they try to impose judgements on what are "unacceptable" topics for people to discuss, democratically and openly, the board and staff will become in essence "political", and be put in the middle of unnecessary, uncomfortable and unending controversy.

We think that many groups, organizations, and individuals in our diverse communities have a vital interest in seeing that the rental policy remain consistent with the Neighbourhood House's past democratic practice.

This and other neighbourhood houses are a most appreciated, valuable, and publicly funded, community service. We encourage others to participate – along with us -- in what we hope will be an open and transparent process of policy formation with regard to rental policy.

So we, you, and some representatives of the neighbourhood house are here this evening for one main purpose: to hear from two women, residents of the lower mainland, who have just returned from the occupied west bank of Palestine and wish to share their experiences. They bring us a voice that we seldom hear from, and that is often silenced: that of Palestinian people who live under this illegal occupation.

Thanks for coming to participate in this evening's event.

Vancouver panel says: "Enough!"
Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

It is the conviction of Canpalnet that there are many and varied pathways that can and do bring Canadians to a simple conclusion; namely, that Israel's occupation must be ended, for elementary justice, and to salvage the humanity of all.

To illustrate this, a diverse and distinguished panel of speakers assembled in Vancouver at a press conference on June 6th to express their opposition to Israel’s 40 year occupation of Palestinian lands, and to call for the government of Canada to take action against that occupation and in support of human rights and international law. The conference took place in the Bank of Nova Scotia Room at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre campus in downtown Vancouver.

Dr. Naseer Aruri, noted Palestinian intellectual and prolific author, was a special guest. Born in Jerusalem, now Emeritus Chancellor Professor at the University of Massachussetts, he has been a member of the international board of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (USA), and Palestinian human rights groups. His most recent work is Dishonest Broker: The U.S. Role in Israel and Palestine.

A statement of support was sent by the all-party parliamentary group in Ottawa, the Canada Palestine Parliamentary Association.

That message and the statements of the panelists (listed below) are posted on this site.  

  • Svend Robinson, long time member of Parliament.
  • Sister Elizabeth Kelliher, of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement.
  • Murray Dobbin, journalist, broadcaster, and author of books on Canadian politics.
  • David Diamond, founder and artistic director of Headlines Theatre and recipient of the City of Vancouver’s Cultural Harmony Award.
  • Lee Lakeman, organizer of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter and a representative for the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers.
  • Carl Rosenberg, editor of Canadian Jewish Outlook Magazine.
  • Terry Greenberg, recently retired member of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
  • Reverend Brenda Faust, Minister of Port Coquitlam Trinity United Church.
  • Henry Krause, pastor of Langley Mennonite Fellowship.
  • Cynthia Flood, prize-winning Canadian short-story writer.
  • Dr. Ivar Ekeland, Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Economics at UBC and former President of the University of Paris-9.
  • Ken Davidson, head of the International Solidarity Committee of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees).
  • Thekla Lit, founder and president of BC ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of World War 2 in Asia).

To see podcast of press conference:

40 Years of Occupation(Part 1) Press Conf. WM video - 9 mins - June 6, 2007

40 Years of Occupation(Part 2) Press Conf. video - 9 mins - June 6, 2007