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, as well as 15 years of reports (2007 to 2021), and found that the Centre For Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has spent more than $504,000 on sponsored trips to “Israel” for at least 49 MPs currently in office. This amounts to an average of more than $10,000 in “benefits received” per MP. Here’s a table listing all of these MPs, when they took their trips and the total value of the “benefits received.”
There are a few things to note:
- MP sponsored trips, regardless of location, have declined greatly in the past couple years (14 between 2020 and 2021 compared to 43 in 2019 alone)
- This table only includes current MPs. CIJA has taken a far greater number of MPs on these trips in total, and in past years has taken more on average than from 2020 onward. The CIJA website states that at one point, more than a third of all active MPs had gone on their trips
- 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, it’s possible that some trips or active MPs are missing
Of these 49 MPs, 24 are Conservatives, 23 are Liberals and two are NDP.
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 will be updated if any more past trips are discovered as well as when future trips occur.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to remove a duplicate entry in the table, and correct the stats mentioned throughout the article accordingly (50 to 49 MPs, 25 Conservative MPs to 24 Conservative MPs, $510,000 total to $504,000 total). Passage regrets this error.
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