Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called out the “unacceptable” rise in hate surfacing in Canada amid the Israel-Hamas war, and called for Canadians to remember “this is not who we are,” while pushing Wednesday for a humanitarian pause long enough to get “back on track” towards a two-state solution.
“We’re seeing right now a rise in antisemitism that is terrifying. Molotov cocktails thrown at synagogues, horrific threats of violence, targeting Jewish businesses, targeting Jewish daycares with hate. This needs to stop. This is something that is not acceptable in Canada, period,” Trudeau said on his way in to a Liberal caucus meeting.
“And period, the rise of Islamophobia we’re seeing across this country and around the world, is also unacceptable. The expressions of hate against Muslims, against Palestinians, against anyone waving a Palestinian flag. This is unacceptable. This is not who we are as Canadians.”
The war began Oct. 7 when Hamas, a Canadian-designated terrorist organization, launched a deadly offensive in Israel, killing 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostages. Israel retaliated and in the weeks since has deepened its attacks in Gaza, killing more than 10,000 and displacing numerous others, in a stated effort to eradicate Hamas.
The hostilities quickly sparked emotionally-charged protests in Canada, and condemnation for some of the expressions of hate on display. Abroad, federal diplomatic officials have been seized with evacuating Canadians stranded in the region.
“Canadians are scared in our own streets right now. We need to make sure that Canadians are doing what we do best, which is listening to our neighbors, understanding and acknowledging our neighbours’ pain, even though it may be diametrically opposed in its cause, to the same pain that we are feeling,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister questioned if Canada can’t “figure this out” what other country in the world could.
“There are people across this country hurting… scared for their loved ones on the other side of the world, and no sign of it getting better anytime soon,” he said.
“Forget about leading on the world stage here at home, we need to model how we get through this. That’s the responsibility of every single Canadian, to see how we are recognizing each other’s pain and fear and move forward.”
PUSH FOR PAUSE, CALLS FOR CEASEFIRE
Trudeau made these remarks as MPs came to Parliament Hill Wednesday morning expressing concerns about the rising tide of antisemitism and Islamophobia in this country, as the war in the Middle East passes the one-month mark.
Outside, pro-Palestinian protesters sought to block access to buildings on the Hill in an effort to garner the attention of federal politicians and staff in their call “for an end to the violence and the growing humanitarian disaster.”
“A month ago yesterday, Hamas launched a horrific attack against innocent lives in Israel. And every day since then, we have seen violence and horrific images of families, elderly, mothers, children, killed,” Trudeau said.
“We’re watching it on TV every night, seeing it all over our social media, and Canadians are hurting and crying out that it needs to stop.”
In his remarks, the prime minister also restated the Canadian government’s calls for humanitarian pauses, amid continuing pushes from pro-Palestinian and labour groups, as well as the federal NDP and now the Bloc Quebecois caucuses, for Canada to call for an immediate ceasefire.
On Wednesday, Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, backed by his MPs, held a press conference he said he wished he didn’t have to, joining the calls for Canada to press for a ceasefire, accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime of being indifferent to the loss of civilian life.
“Therefore, the Bloc Quebecois is repeating and echoing the requests many have made, in calling for a ceasefire, an urgent ceasefire in Gaza… The ceasefire must include all parties,” Blanchet said, in French.
This move was swiftly applauded by advocacy group Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), which noted the Bloc now joins other progressive parties and some Liberal MPs, in this push.
“Yesterday, two public polls… showed that a majority of Canadians support the idea of a ceasefire, either full or temporary,” CJPME said in a statement.
Amid repeated questions and a caution from the United Nations(opens in a new tab), Trudeau has yet to say whether he thinks Israel is respecting international humanitarian law.
Currently, the most-signed active e-petition(opens in a new tab) on the House of Commons website, is one stating Canadians are calling on Parliament to “require the prime minister to take the necessary measures” to address the conflict, including calling for a ceasefire and asking for more measures to protect civilians.
As of Wednesday evening, the petition, which also pushes for Canada to “help foster a climate conducive to building a lasting peace,” had garnered more than 180,000 signatures.
“We understand this is a heightened time… Everyone’s concerned right now,” said Mental Health and Addictions Minister Ya’ara Saks on her way in to the meeting with Trudeau.
Wednesday, Trudeau spoke about holding a pause long enough to allow all hostages to be released, and for significant amounts of aid and medical resources to get in. He said this is needed so the work can begin to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, where Canadian evacuation efforts stalled Wednesday(opens in a new tab), as well as the West Bank, and Lebanon where tensions are spilling over.
“And where we actually start doing the work of the real heavy lifting that’s going to be required to get back on track to a two-state solution, to start imagining what the long-term future of a viable Palestinian state looks like: safe, secure. And, beside a safe, secure, viable and successful Israeli state,” Trudeau said.
“This is what we need to get to, and every day that we continue to see suffering of, of thousands, of millions of people, makes it harder to get to that end state.”
Conservative MP Marty Morantz, on his way into his party’s caucus meeting Wednesday, said every time the government makes a statement about the situation in the Middle East, “it should be prefaced with a statement that they demand that the hostages be released, now.”
“That should be the number one priority of this government in terms of its foreign policy position, as it relates to the situation in Gaza,” he said. Throughout the latest hostilities, the Conservatives’ position has been to resist the calls to press for a ceasefire, citing Israel’s right to defend itself.
Following question period, the House of Commons passed a pair of unanimous consent motions concerning the war. One from Liberal MP Anthony Housefather saw all MPs reject and condemn “the heinous terrorist attacks against Israel” and demand “that Hamas unconditionally and immediately release all hostages, regardless of nationality.”
The other from Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi saw the House unite in calling for “unimpeded humanitarian aid be allowed into Gaza,” and that “every measure be taken to protect civilian life in Gaza,” including allowing all foreign nationals to leave.
“And that the House reiterate its firm and unwavering commitment to a two-state solution with a viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel,” as his motion was being read aloud in the House, someone could be heard off-camera, calling on him to “say ceasefire.”
Source : CTV