CIJA Has Taken Nearly 25% Of MPs On Paid Trips To ‘Israel’

by Davide Mastracci, The Maple, Nov. 20, 2023

Members of parliament (MP) in Canada are able to take sponsored trips abroad so long as the trip “arises from or relates to his or her position.” After the trip, MPs must disclose the following:

  • “the name of the person or organization paying the travel costs”
  • “the name of any person accompanying the Member”
  • “the destination or destinations, the purpose and length of the trip”
  • “the nature of the benefits received and the value”

This information is contained in the Public Registry at the website for the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. It’s also documented in the annual “List Of Sponsored Travel” report released by the commissioner.

I reviewed the registry and found that the Centre For Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has sponsored trips to “Israel” for at least 73 MPs currently in office, amounting to 22 per cent of all sitting MPs. (The word Israel has quotation marks around it in this article’s body and headline because these trips are often marked as solely to “Israel” even though they include time in areas recognized as being illegally occupied.)

CIJA spent at least $894,000 on these sponsored trips, for an average of $12,257 per trip by MP. Here’s a table listing all of these MPs, when they took their trips and the total value of the “benefits received.” An image version of the table follows for better viewing on mobile and sharing on social media.

[CHIP Editors's note: Tables including all the information references available in the original article]

 

There are a few things to note:

  • This table only includes current MPs. CIJA and its predecessors have been taking MPs on these sorts of trips since 1973, and estimates it has sent about 800 MPs and senators on them throughout this period
  • My data includes trips sponsored by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CCIJA), which was what CIJA was known as until 2011, and the Canada-Israel Committee, which had the CCIJA as its parent organization
  • Because this list only goes as far back as 2007 due to limitations of the online data, it’s likely that some trips from active MPs are missing

Of these 73 MPs, 35 are Conservatives, 32 are Liberals, three are Bloc Québécois, two are NDP and one is independent.

Party

Number of CIJA-Sponsored Trips

Conservative

35

Liberal

32

Bloc Québécois

3

NDP

2

Here’s the average amount spent per MP by party: 

Party

Average Trip Value ($)

Bloc Québécois

15,072

Conservative

12,545

Liberal

11,916

NDP

9,238

CIJA is a non-profit organization that notes one of its three main priorities is “educating Canadians about the important role Israel plays in Jewish life and identity.” It describes itself as a “Zionist organization.”

In its 2021 federal election guide, CIJA lists the following as an issue of importance: “Support of the people and land of Israel in the international community and at the UN and other international organizations.”

This is what CIJA includes as recommendations for MPs under the entry for this issue: “Publicly opposing both the one-sided UN resolutions that single out Israel and the efforts to isolate Israel and to negate, in UN forums, the Jewish people’s historically indisputable connection to Jerusalem. Ensuring the government’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affirm the Canada Israel alliance and draw a clear moral distinction between the defensive actions of Israelis and the illegal aggression of banned terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

CIJA states that these trips, which they describe as “educational missions,” are “the single most important activity CIJA undertakes to educate Canadians about the people of Israel.” They note that they have specific trips tailored for MPs, which “include meetings with Members of the Knesset.” In general, they write that the trip “exposes participants to many important aspects of Israel, including tours of Jerusalem’s Old City, Yad Vashem, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, border positions along the Golan Heights, and more.”

In terms of results from the trip, CIJA writes, “CIJA ensures mission participants understand their attendance comes with no strings attached. Our view is that knowledge gained from visiting Israel speaks for itself; mission participants cannot help but return to Canada better informed about Israel and the Middle East. At the same time, missions often provide opportunities for greater cooperation between Canadians and Israelis.”

 

This article was updated on Nov. 20, 2023. The original version, published on May 17, 2022, at Passage, is available through the Wayback Machine.

 

Posted Dec. 26, 2023