80 percent of Canadians back Israel boycott — poll

New findings highlight failure of Canadian government and Israel lobby groups to demonize Palestine solidarity movement. (Denis Hébert)

Four in five Canadians expressing an opinion believe the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel is reasonable, a national survey released Wednesday suggests.

More than half of Canadians polled who expressed an opinion also oppose their parliament’s condemnation of the BDS campaign, which aims to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights and international law, and two-thirds say government sanctions on Israel would be reasonable.

These results are remarkable evidence that efforts by the Canadian government, backed by Israel and its surrogates, to demonize the Palestine solidarity movement are failing.

The poll, conducted by EKOS Research Associates from 25 January to 2 February, was commissioned by Independent Jewish Voices, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East and journalists Dimitri Lascaris and Murray Dobbin.

Partial results released last month found that large numbers of Canadians see Israel’s government negatively, and Canadians almost unanimously reject the view that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic.

Backing for BDS

According to the newly released findings, 78 percent of respondents expressing an opinion say BDS is reasonable, but that shoots up to 88 percent among those who identify with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.

Favorable views of BDS surge even higher among supporters of Canada’s other left of center parties – the New Democratic Party, Greens and Bloc Québécois.

Even supporters of the staunchly pro-Israel Conservative Party are evenly split: 49 percent say the BDS call is reasonable, while 51 percent say it is not – a difference that is within the poll’s margin of error.

Between 14-22 percent of respondents did not express an opinion on the questions about BDS and sanctions, according to the pollsters.

Out of step

These findings provide another stark indication of how out of step Canada’s political elites are with public views on Palestine.

In February 2016, Canada’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a motion condemning BDS.

But Canadians feel very differently from their representatives. More than half of those surveyed say they oppose the parliamentary motion, while just a quarter support it.

Opposition to the condemnation of BDS was strong among backers of all the left of center parties – ranging from 55 percent among Liberals to 78 percent among Greens.

Only among Conservatives did more people support the motion (46 percent) than oppose it (33 percent).

Consistent with generational trends seen in the United States, younger Canadians appear more sympathetic to Palestinian rights. Two-thirds of respondents aged 18-34 expressing an opinion opposed the parliamentary condemnation of BDS, a number that drops to 46 percent among those aged over 65.

Similarly, 84 percent of the 18-34 age group said the BDS call is reasonable, a number that fell to a still impressive 72 percent for those aged over 65.

Sanctions on Israel

Overall, 91 percent of respondents expressing an opinion agreed that in general sanctions are a reasonable way for Canada to censure countries for violations of international law or human rights.

Two-thirds agreed that sanctions specifically targeting Israel over its construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law would be reasonable, with one-third indicating opposition.

Three-quarters of respondents who identify with Trudeau’s Liberals support sanctions. That support rises as high as 94 percent among backers of Canada’s other left of center parties.

Among Conservatives support for sanctions plummets to 30 percent – highlighting a sharp partisan divide over Israel also seen in the United States.


“These numbers are breathtaking,” Lascaris, a lawyer, journalist and former justice spokesperson for the Green Party, told The Electronic Intifada.

“Our government’s support for Israel is not just immoral and unjust, it’s irrational, because it’s not a vote winner to be pro-Israel – the opposite is true,” Lascaris added.

Lascaris said he suspects that major pro-Israel groups have conducted private polling on Canadian attitudes toward Israel, but have never published the results. “That’s a suspicion,” he said, “but the conventional wisdom – absent any scientific poll to back it up – is that there is strong public support for the Canadian government’s pro-Israel leanings. This poll explodes that myth.”

Lascaris asserted that the poll reveals the “misapprehension of the Canadian political class,” whose unquestioning support for Israel borders on “fanaticism.”

He added that it also contravenes Canada’s treaty obligations and policy under the Fourth Geneva Convention to take reasonable measures to halt Israel’s violations, including its construction of settlements.

But Lascaris hopes that the results will serve as a tool for activists and lawmakers who are sympathetic to Palestinian rights to push their parties in the right direction.

“There’s overwhelming public support for Palestinian rights and bringing an end to Israel’s egregious, decades-long violations carried out with impunity,” Lascaris said. “That’s what the Canadian public wants.”

Note: this article has been updated since initial publication with links to the full survey, and information about respondents who did not provide an opinion.




I don't doubt the poll results. Canadians, as a whole, are a pretty fair-minded people.

What individual Canadians think is often quite different than the assumptions of our leadership.

And, of course, our national leadership is always subject to the intense efforts of the Israel Lobby.

That is not quite so obvious now with Trudeau as it was recently with Harper.

Harper and his close associates were pretty much a national embarrassment at times on the topic.

Sudden outbursts of undying loyalty to Israel from several of them with Harper himself repeating the behavior regularly.

Some of those events - as one by former Minister Peter Kent with a clutch of journalists - reminded me of a Monty Python parody of the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus.


Surprising result!
I wonder how the Canadian parliament will respect this result and when they will reconsider voting for BDS in accordance with the Canadian majority stance?
MP's cann't deny such overwhelming result of 80% in favor of backing for BDS.


But does considering BDS "reasonable" constitute support for BDS? You can disagree with a position but still find it "reasonable". Why didn't they just ask people if they support BDS?


I think you are way over optimistic in interpreting these results. Canadians may think boycotting Israel over the settlements is "reasonable", but if you ask them whether they support the 3 demands of the BDS movement, I think you would get a very different answer. Opposing the settlements is a lot easier sell than supporting the right of return, for example. I wish it were otherwise, but it isn't.


Right. I thought that's the point I was making: Considering BDS "reasonable" doesn't equate to support for BDS.

Were you addressing your comment to me or to the author? (Maybe you accidentally replied to my comment instead of starting a new thread?)


Good point, not to mention that "On question 2 (about whether sanctions on Israel would be reasonable), 22% did not reply. On question 3 (about whether boycotts of Israel are reasonable), 21% did not reply. And on question 4 (about support or opposition to condemning those who promote such a boycott), 15% did not reply." From the actual report.


While the survey does not show that Canadians support BDS, (they weren't asked) it does show that they have a very poor opinion of Israel despite the huge propaganda efforts of Israel's advocates here in Canada, and support putting economic pressure on Israel to induce it to comply with international law. That's pretty significant, I think.


It means Canadian people are genuinely concerned about human rights, against the occupation, illegal settlements, and are not brainwashed by a zionist media. Congratulations Canadians, it seems you are smarter than your neighbors, and able to think for yourselves.


I think its great to see that many Canadians agree that a boycott of Israel is a 'reasonable" response to the Israeli settlements that the UNSC criticized.
But that is a very long way from saying they support BDS. I'm very certain that most Canadians still think the Jews need a Jewish state, and that allowing the refugees to return is out of the question. I wish this were not the case. I don't think we have much interest in exaggerating our strength.


Jews of course do NOT need a "Jewish State". That presupposes
the supremacy of one religious group, the basis of an apartheid

"Jews"/Zionists have no entitlement to an exclusively
Jewish state (Zionism). Zionists have rejected treating
the indigenous as equal (one-state, eg in 1946),

Source: Thomas Suarez, THE STATE OF TERROR

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA