Photo: Gil Cohen Magen Agence France-Presse An Israeli tank moves near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.
Boris Proulx and Sandrine Vieira in Ottawa
Torn between self-defense and illegal bombings, not all the elected officials of the Liberal Party of Canada who have the same reading of the military response that Israel is inflicting on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
“I speak in my personal name, as the member for Louis-Hébert, in favor of a ceasefire,” declared Quebec MP Joël Lightbound in an interview with Devoiron Wednesday. However, he specifies that he leaves it up to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, and the Prime Minister to determine Canada's response on this subject.
Mr. Lightbound is one of six liberal elected officials who have shown some sympathy towards the idea of requesting the suspension of all armed action in this region of the Middle East, according to a compilation by Devoir. The idea of a ceasefire is demanded in particular by the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Green Party of Canada (PVC).
Mr. Lightbound believes that “the somewhat divergent opinions” within the Liberal caucus regarding Israel's military response would notably explain the government's reluctance to call for a ceasefire.
In a lengthy, at times emotional, dialogue with parliamentary reporters Wednesday morning, Montreal MP Sameer Zuberi said in English that Canadians should be consulted on the idea of demanding a ceasefire, under the pretext that the situation in Gaza “is not acceptable.”
“I think we really need to recognize that the bombs thrown by the Israeli army are falling on innocent children, adults and elderly people,” he said. let down the elected representative from Pierrefonds—Dollard.
His suburban Toronto colleague Shafqat Ali was even clearer to reporters, saying: “A ceasefire must be demanded. » According to him, international law is not respected by any belligerent.
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Experts consulted by Le Devoir issue some doubts about the idea of a ceasefire.
“A ceasefire would mean the suspension of fighting until it resumes. This is why I do not believe in such an agreement, unless Israel obtains everything it wants or almost,” wrote Charles-Philippe David, from the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at UQAM, in an email to Devoir.
“There cannot be a ceasefire without an agreement between the two parties. You cannot have a unilateral ceasefire,” explains Frédéric Mégret, professor of international law at McGill University. He adds that this seems “a little unlikely” in the current circumstances. Israel is in the midst of a military response to an unprecedented attack on its territory by Hamas on October 7.< /p>
The leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, ridiculed the NDP's request by focusing on the true meaning of a request for a ceasefire on Wednesday.
“I want there to be no more cartridges going from an Israeli rifle to a Palestinian, from a Palestinian rifle to an Israeli […] Now, once you have said it, once you have done pleasure to a certain number of people, how realistic is that? » declared the chief.
Mr. Blanchet reiterated that he wants to see Hamas eliminated. “If Hamas gets away with this easily, in a few days, weeks or months, we start again. »
Note that the NDP and the Green Party also agree that Israel has the right to defend itself, and they also want the destruction of Hamas.
“I completely agree that we must abolish terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas,” said Jagmeet Singh, despite his demand to stop the bombings. He agreed that this request was more “humanistic” than “realistic”.
“We must help Israel eliminate Hamas […] as well as request a ceasefire so that we can protect human lives in Gaza,” said, for her part, the leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, on Monday .
Right to defend oneself
The day after the news of a strike on a hospital in Gaza, the details of which are still ambiguous at the moment these lines were written, elected government officials categorically rejected the proposal that Canada demand a ceasefire.
“Israel has been attacked by a terrorist group […] which has the desire to exterminate the country and exterminate the Jewish population everywhere. Israel has the right to defend itself, but using international law,” said Anthony Housefather, the member for Mount Royal, himself a Jew.
His colleague Ben Carr, newly elected under the Liberal banner in Manitoba in 2023, is of the same opinion. “The concern is that Hamas is still holding hostages it took during the attack. Second, Israel has the right to defend itself, and that means resolving the structure of the Hamas regime. If we don't take care of it, Hamas will rebuild itself. »
These apparent differences of opinion within the Liberal caucus on the ongoing conflict do not pose a problem for the government House leader, Karina Gould, since she represents a party “with opinions various.”
She recalled that the official position of the Canadian government is to support Israel in its response to the imposing terrorist attack of October 7, which left at least 1,400 dead in Israel, in addition of 199 hostages, according to the latest report.