The Liquor Control Board of Ontario's removal of two Israeli wines from LCBO shelves, as ordered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, is regrettably similar to discriminatory action taken in Germany in 2015 - an action that was ultimately reversed.
The LCBO justified its decision this week by citing the CFIA's ruling that wines grown and produced at two West Bank wineries could not be labelled as "Product of Israel" because they come from "occupied territories". The CFIA contends that, because Canada does not recognize sovereignty over the West Bank, wines produced there cannot be labelled as Israeli products.
In fact, there are strong arguments that non-recognition of sovereignty should not conflict with products labelled as Israeli. (just as products from Western Sahara are labelled as "Made in Morocco" and products from Nagorno-Karabakh are identified as Armenian. Similar precedents can be found with products from Northern Cyprus and Abkhazia.
A Berlin store removed Israeli wines from its shelves in 2015, citing European Union guidelines that demanded labels identifying products from the West Bank, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The store reversed its decision and restocked the Israeli wines after the Government of Israel denounced the removal as "discriminatory and historically unacceptable".
I hope that the government of Ontario, from Premier Wynne to the management of the LCBO, will recognize that the CFIA order is, essentially discriminatory and unacceptable and a misinterpretation of international precedents and protocols. It is also worth remembering that Progressive Conservative and Liberal MPPs at Queens Park voted unanimously to denounce the BDS movement that singularly targets Israel. The LCBO's compliance with the CFIA order is a test of that commitment.
At the same time, I hope that the Government of Canada, the Prime Minister, his Cabinet and backbenchers will recognize that this focus on two Israeli wineries is an effective manifestation of BDS and that the CFIA has made a misguided decision and issued an unacceptable order.
Two questions for the CFIA: What prompted this order... and why was it issued now? Dozens of Israeli wines have been produced in the territories for decades.
There is no reason for delay. The only acceptable outcome -- a clear and timely reversal of this repugnant action.
In the meantime, I would suggest that Canadians pay frequent visits to wines of Israel shelves at stores across the country.
Hon. Peter Kent, P.C., MP