Dimitri Lascaris: “The BDS movement needs lawyers like me to help defend the movement”

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Dimitri Lascaris

Dimitri Lascaris is a lawyer, journalist, pro-Palestinian activist, board member of The Real News Network and counsel to the al-Quds Toronto Committee that organizes the annual Al-Quds Day Rally in Toronto. He has served as Chairman of the Board for Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).

Here are excerpts from Dimitri Lascaris’ interview with Sada AlMashrek (May 19, 2020):

Hussein Hoballah: The Arab and Muslim community has voted in the past for the Liberals or the NDP… Why do you think they should vote for the Green Party?

Dimitri Lascaris: In my opinion, the Liberals and the NDP are not serious about protecting the rights of Arabs and Muslims. Both the Liberals and the NDP refuse to endorse sanctions on Israel and have adopted strongly pro-Israel policies. In the 2019 election, the Liberals cancelled the candidacy of Hassan Guillet simply because Mr. Guillet had criticized Israel. Similarly, the NDP cancelled the candidacy of Rana Zaman for the same reason – even after she apologized for criticizing Israel. I have repeatedly called for sanctions on Israel to protect the rights of Palestinians. The Green Party is the only party in Canada which has adopted a policy calling for economic sanctions on Israel. The Green Party is also the only party in Parliament which has a serious plan to combat the climate crisis, which is a threat to the future of all of our children.

Hussein Hoballah: What does the Palestinian issue mean to you?

Dimitri Lascaris: The Palestinian issue means a great deal to me, as my record demonstrates. In 2016, when I was Justice Critic in the Green Party of Canada shadow cabinet, I drafted and sponsored a resolution calling for economic sanctions on Israel. The resolution was adopted by a large majority of the party’s members. I am also representing Dr. David Kattenburg, a resident of Winnipeg, in a legal proceeding brought against the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) after the CFIA approved “Product of Israel” labels on wines made in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. In 2019, the Federal Court of Canada agreed with me that those “Product of Israel” labels are false, misleading and deceptive and it overruled the decision of the CFIA to approve those labels. I have devoted over 1,000 hours to Dr. Kattenburg’s case and have agreed to do the case on a pro bono basis, meaning that I am being paid no compensation for the work that I have done on that file.

Hussein Hoballah: Your activism for Palestine, puts you at odd with almost all other political parties in Ottawa, why do you think they have such adversarial position against you and Palestinian supporters?

Dimitri Lascaris: I think they have such an adversarial position against me because they know that I have been a very effective advocate for Palestinian rights.

Hussein Hoballah: You were the leading figure with the BDS resolution with the Green party, which generated lots of support from rank and file members. However, it led to fall out with the party leader and some executive members, what is your assessment of that episode and affair?

Dimitri Lascaris: I think that the prior leader of the Green Party learned from that experience that the members’ support for the Palestinian cause is so strong that any person who is the leader of the Green Party must advocate strongly for Palestinian rights.

Hussein Hoballah: What is needed to make BDS more effective and stronger?

Dimitri Lascaris: The BDS movement needs lawyers like me to help defend the movement in Courts of law. That would make BDS a much stronger movement, and that is why I have tried, with considerable success, to recruit other lawyers to represent the BDS movement in the justice system.

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