Monday, February 02, 2009

Unacceptable International Economic Boycotts

Unacceptable International Economic Boycotts

Activities the Canadian government finds unacceptable which would lead it to refrain from assisting Canadian companies that participate in international economic boycotts:

Engaging in discriminatory practices based on race, national/ethnic origin, religion of any Canadian firms or individuals.

Refusing to purchase from or sell to any other Canadian firms or individuals.

Refraining from purchases from any country.

Restricting commercial investments/economic activities in any country.

It appears that Canadian anti-boycott legislation can be traced to US legislation concerning Arab boycotts of Israel where the United States exercised extraterritorial consequences for foreign subsidiaries of American corporations engaging in U.S. trade not only in Arabia but also in Canada.

Canada Business Corporation Act: Discussion Paper Directors' And Other Corporation Residency Issues (1995) describes, "the most notorious assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction occurred in the Siberian pipeline dispute. In June 1982, in response to Soviet involvement in political repression in Poland, the United States imposed sanctions on the export and re-export of goods and technical data relating to oil and gas exploration, transmission and refinement." As a result Canada's legislation was reformed to fall in line with US legislation, which is not uncommon, as described in the same policy paper, "laws relating to such diverse areas as restrictive business practices, export controls, securities (both in respect of corrupt practices and Arab boycott legislation), bankruptcy and insolvency, taxation (state unitary taxes), to name only some, have been applied to acts the primary locus of which has been in Canada."

There are those who are positionally opposed to limitations of government support for those companies participating in unacceptable boycotts such as described by Professor Michael Mandel in concern for Gaza Occupation by Israel. There was the moral argument made by Yitzhak Rabin that essentially Israelis and Palestinians need to learn how to live with each other. It appears many Israelis did not agree with him either. The escalation of atrocities on both sides might some day cause the world to choose a mutual boycott of both sides until a peace accord similar to the Oslo Accords may be signed and similar to the economic boycott of South Africa which successfully toppled apartheid. Both Israelis and Palestinians appear to share the same sentiments concerning solutions when a snake enters the house. It is unfortunate and represents one of the world's sadly most unresolved continuously festering exemplifications of conflict without resolution despite earnest international negotiation efforts. At least it has provided fodder for several negotiation texts.

The terms of political statements should be limited by an international business if only on reputational grounds as it would maximize customer base and profits. The problem with legislated policies is that the politics and social general public concensus may change faster than legislation and might cause some to question the rationale behind such legislation during instances of graphic atrocities from both sides of an issue. How can one politically or morally support one side and not the other in that case?


"A Call for Morally Responsible Investment: A Non-Violent Response to the Israeli Occupation"(International Conference, October 26-29, 2005 in Toronto, Canada) Michael Mandel, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Toronto.

No comments: