Toronto, ON – On May 13, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) released their decision, entitled: Reconsideration and redetermination of a label complaint, regarding two wines produced in the West Bank and sold in Ontario with “Product of Israel” branding.
In response, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Vice-President, External Affairs & General Counsel, Richard Marceau, said:
“The first item to note is that the attempt by the complainants to use the Canadian legal system to advance anti-Israel objectives has failed.
“Contrary to claims made by the complainants, the CFIA did not rule “that Product of Israel labels affixed to wines” produced in the West Bank “violate Canadian consumer protection law”. The decision did not say that a country-of-origin label was necessary for the wines in question. Such labelling is purely voluntary. It did say that such wines could be labelled as “Product of Israel,” provided the producer added more context.
“Regarding the political status of the locations in question, the decision was clear: this is not a matter to be determined by the CFIA. Appropriately, the CFIA noted that there is “no recognized country where the two wines in question were produced,” which reflects longstanding Canadian policy on the issue. The territories are disputed, and that dispute can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict, a position CIJA has long held. Further, the decision did not say that, if a wine-maker chose to list a country of origin, wines produced in territories administered by Israel outside its internationally recognized boundaries must be labeled as “Product of Palestine” or “Product of the West Bank” or any other such description.
“In other words, the complainants’ attempt to use Canada’s legal system to dictate a position on the status of the territories outside of the 1948 lines has failed.
“Regarding the Charter provisions raised in the case, the CFIA stated unequivocally they have “no application in this determination.”
“As to the process, the Jewish community, from which the vast majority of consumers of Israeli wines comes, is arguably the most affected party in this case and should have had a voice in the proceedings. As the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across the country, CIJA represents the organized Jewish community of Canada and the perspectives of hundreds of thousands of Jewish Canadians affiliated with their local Federation. Despite our subject matter expertise, stake in the case as an affected party, and multiple attempts to constructively contribute to the discussion, the CFIA refused our intervention. This is highly concerning and indicates a serious flaw in the process.
CIJA is reviewing our legal options carefully and continuing to follow this case closely. We expect CFIA will include our community’s perspective in future.”
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