Take Action: Mount Allison should not be conferring an honorary degree for Deborah Lyons


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Take one minute to write to tell Mount Allison University must not confer an honorary degree to Deborah Lyons.

On Nakba75, May 15, 2023, Canada’s former Ambassador to Israel, Deborah Lyons will be receiving an honorary degree.

Over 1,000 people have signed a petition to Mount Allison University expressing concerns that Deborah Lyons disregarded the human rights community, international human rights, humanitarian law, and the Rome Statute.

Rather, Lyons has praised Israeli war criminals responsible for Palestinians’ suffering, dispossession. But the University has not listened. So now it is time to write directly to Mount Allison University to express your outrage, reminding them that while Deborah Lyons was Canadian Ambassador in Tel Aviv she encouraged and supported Canadians joining the Israeli military.

It is a crime in Canada to recruit anyone for a foreign military. It is also a crime to aid and abet such recruitment by offering incentives and encouraging any person to serve in a foreign military.

The Foreign Enlistment Act states, “Any person who, within Canada, recruits or otherwise induces any person or body of persons to enlist or to accept any commission or engagement in the armed forces of any foreign state or other armed forces operating in that state is guilty of an offence.”

The only exception would be the recruitment of Israeli citizens who are not Canadian.

On October 19, 2020, a complaint was made to Attorney General David Lametti asking him to investigate illegal recruiting for the Israeli military. This included that Deborah Lyons, former Canadian Ambassador to Israel, had held a widely publicized event on January 16, 2020 in Tel Aviv honoring Canadians serving in the IDF.

On October 20, 2020, the Attorney General indicated to Le Devoir, that he had referred the case to the police and private prosecutor to investigate. The RCMP confirmed in November 2020 that they were investigating, and additional information was provided to them in January 2021.

Subsequently, two parliamentary petitions saw over 9,000 signatures calling on the Minister of Justice to undertake a thorough investigation of those who have recruited or facilitated recruiting for the Israel Defense Forces, and, if warranted, lay charges against those involved in recruiting and encouraging recruiting for the IDF. These parliamentary petitions included specifically that “the Ambassador of Canada conducted an event on January 16, 2020 honoring Canadians serving in the IDF.”

Civil society has continued to bring this issue to the attention of the Canadian government.

Beyond this, Lyons should have condemned human rights violations and war crimes as a high-ranking Canadian diplomat. Instead, she chose to engage in the settler colonial erasure of Palestine and to white-wash Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism.

None of her public statements condemns such violations, and only a few days after the shooting by the IDF of Canadian doctor who was attending to the injured, Dr. Tarek  Loubani, in June 2018, Lyons spoke at a public event in Toronto where she praised Israel for being “magical” and “experiencing a renaissance.”

How shameful for the University of Mount Allison to be conferring an honorary degree on someone who the Attorney General would be investigated related to violation of the Canadian Foreign Enlistment Act, an investigation that the RCMP confirmed was underway. Even more shameful to be doing this as we remember the Nakba, 75 years ago, and the ongoing Nakba.

Over the last few days, Israel has bombarded residential properties across the Gaza Strip. How shameful Mount Allison is honoring and celebrating Lyons at a time when Palestinians are being ethnically cleansed by the military she supported.

How shameful that Mount Allison University is conferring an honorary degree on someone who the Attorney General felt should be investigated for violation of the Canadian Foreign Enlistment Act.

On Monday May 15, Nakba75, at the 2:30pm Convocation ceremony at Convocation Hall, Mount Allison, Sackville, New Brunswick. A peaceful demonstration at 1:45 PM on Monday 15 May, outside of Convocation Hall. Feel free to bring signs. Inside students and faculty will also be making their opposition known. Those in the area may wish to join in.

Initiated by

Just Peace Advocates

The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute

Palestinian and Jewish Unity

Canada Palestine Association

The Canadian BDS Coalition


Oakville Palestinian Rights Association



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