Canada won’t unilaterally recognize Palestine after all, as NDP walks back key demand

Israel Palestine vote in House of Commons
Canadian lawmakers decided not to recognize Palestine as an independent state, after a 204-117 vote in the House of Commons on Monday, March 18, 2024. (House of Commons photo)

Late in the night on March 18, 2024, Canada’s lawmakers voted to keep a key part of the country’s foreign policy on Israel-Palestine the same as it’s been for decades.

The controversial opposition-led motion, originally put forward to the House of Commons by the NDP’s foreign affairs critic and a longtime Palestinian advocate, Heather McPherson, called for Canada to immediately recognize Palestine as a state. She and others donned keffiyehs and watermelon pins during the House vote.

But a last-minute deal with the Liberal government saw the NDP agree to remove that seemingly critical demand. In the end, the motion simply restated Canada’s longstanding view that a Palestinian state must be contingent on a two-state solution, and should come only as part of a negotiated peace between Israel and Palestinians.

The motion, which is non-binding and purely symbolic, nonetheless passed 204-117, with the Conservatives voting against, while the Liberals, NDP, Green Party and Bloc Québécois voted for it (except for Anthony Housefather, Ben Carr and Marco Mendicino). Most Jewish communal organizations swiftly expressed outrage over the motion’s call for an immediate ceasefire, continued funding for UNRWA and a ban on weapons sales to Israel. The motion also calls for the immediate release of Israeli hostages and blames Hamas for the murders and kidnappings of Israelis.

On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, we bring you highlights from the fiery debate, including words from Jewish MPs who voted against the motion—including Anthony Housefather, Melissa Lantsman and Marty Morantz—as well as Jewish MPs who voted in favour, such as Liberal Julie Dabrusin and the NDP’s Leah Gazan.

What we talked about:

  • Read the original NDP motion on unilaterally recognizing Palestine as an independent state, plus eight other declarations
  • Read the revised motion proposed by the Liberals and accepted by the NDP’s Heather McPherson, the Edmonton MP behind the overall Palestine motion
  • Find out how your MP voted


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.