By Nora Loreto
Emotions ran high on Saturday night as a motion about Israel/Palestine came to convention floor. The motion was one of twelve about Israel and Palestine that had been served to the convention, including one motion that received the support of more than 30 riding associations.
Of the hundreds of motions served, only two received this much support from riding associations and other voting blocks within the party. The motion that received the most support was placed at number 37 of 45 of the agenda, and it called for support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.
The motion that made it to number three in this block was served by Brampton South and condemned “both sides” for human rights abuses. The motion ended with: “this includes recognition of the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace in viable, independent states with negotiated and agreed-upon borders.”
Delegates who organized around the motion numbered 37 lined up as of 5:30 AM on Friday morning to try and influence the order of motions debated such that the motion that more clearly condemned Israel for its occupation and siege of Palestine. The motion to prioritize this motion was defeated by 11 votes.
At the moment that the motion hit the floor, nearly 100 delegates held signs in silent protest that featured the image of Ahed Tamimi, a 17 year-old Palestinian who’s detention has become international news. Delegates with these signs stretched the length of congress floor, and were at all of the floor microphones.
One delegate at the microphone condemned the protesters for using materials that did not have a union bug on them. Another argued that the signs were distracting such that they couldn’t see the convention screens that are about four metres above the stage.
The debate started with delegates at microphones accusing other delegates of various tactics, like intimidating others or holding spots at the microphones to stop other delegates from accessing the microphones. The chair didn’t rule on any specific points of order, and asked delegates to allow the debate to start.
No delegates spoke against the spirit of what the motion called for, but several expressed that they were against the motion in protest of how the more popular motion had been treated at the convention.
One of the procedural motions that was served from the floor was to refer the motion to a prioritization committee tonight and to send it back to the floor tomorrow, amended. Dhananjai Kohli’s amendment sought to include text that could condemn illegal settlements and the blockade of Gaza.
Among the other motions in the policy block, four others explicitly sought to condemn the siege of Gaza. The order of these motions had already been determined by the resolutions order committee. The motion to refer failed.
Sam Hersh, one of the delegates who was part of the organizing to move the more substantive motion, made an impassioned speech with a voice that was often quivering with passion. Hersh’s said that he was angry that a motion was moved ahead of others on the agenda that only had the support of just one riding, and that this motion was much more weak than the motion with the support of more than 30 ridings. “This resolution does nothing to address the two-tier legal system to put children in Israeli prisons … it offers mere platitudes rather than much needed action,” he said.
A delegate from Kitchener-Waterloo, who introduced herself by saying that she is currently a rabbinical student, spoke passionately in favour of the motion as it was a necessary sign of the desire of encouraging people to work together for justice for all people.
There had been a motion passed earlier today to allow delegates to extend a policy block by up to 30 minutes or up to 5 motions total, if there was two-thirds support from among the delegates. The vote was very close. A delegate asked for the count to be done through standing vote to be able to have an accurate count of the decision.
During the standing count, emotions ran high. One delegate called a point of personal privilege, a motion that is requested when a delegate feels like there is something happening that is prohibiting a delegate’s full participation in a meeting, to ask the chair to stop a delegate from live streaming the vote. Other delegates expressed outrage that a delegate was live streaming the debate.
CPAC was also live-to-air throughout the vote.
While the motion to extend the time block failed, the chair ruled against a delegate that exceeding the stated time was not a good enough reason to let the motion die before a vote could be held.
The motion passed and that ended the allotted time for the debate on the policy block.
Delegates who had organized around the motion that had garnered the most support from riding associations held a small rally at the back of the convention hall to share their frustrations with how they had felt they’ve been treated over serving this motion.
The conference adjourned until Sunday morning.