Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press “This pause must allow us to send information “real and substantial assistance to help this abominable humanitarian crisis for civilians in Gaza,” Prime Minister Trudeau declared on Wednesday.
Ottawa's tone towards the Israeli government is gradually rising, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintains his position. In a ten-minute statement delivered Wednesday morning, the Canadian Prime Minister once again called for a humanitarian pause in the Gaza Strip, this time specifying that it must be “significant.”
“This pause must allow us to send real and substantial aid to help this abominable humanitarian crisis for civilians in Gaza,” he said.
At the time of his speech, a small gathering of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched on Parliament Hill, demanding a call from Ottawa for a cease-fire. On Tuesday, a group of several humanitarian organizations also made this request. Despite the pressure exerted by these groups – and by many federal MPs –, Prime Minister Trudeau continues to advocate a “humanitarian pause”.
A position considered insufficient by the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves -François Blanchet, whose party joined its voice to that of the New Democratic Party to call for a ceasefire. The Bloc members have until now said they are in favor of a “humanitarian truce”, but consider that the “stubborn refusals” of the Israeli government to stop the bombings now require more concrete measures.
“The words “humanitarian truce” […], I believe we must go beyond that. I believe that this is behind the reality that we observe in the Gaza Strip, that the tone must be raised and that the consideration of more concrete measures to save human lives must be initiated as quickly as possible,” declared Mr. Blanchet during a press briefing in the presence of all his deputies. “I therefore invite, on the one hand, the Prime Minister of Canada, of course, and Madame [Mélanie] Joly to think very quickly about this option. »
During the question period on Wednesday, the Bloc leader questioned the Prime Minister, asking him if he can “consider that we have reached the point of asking for a cease-fire equipped with means of effective implementations”. Justin Trudeau simply responded that Canada is requesting a humanitarian pause “to get the hostages and citizens out of Gaza and send humanitarian aid.”
The Bloc Québécois, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party of Canada are the only parties to officially position themselves in favor of a ceasefire. Around twenty Liberal MPs also expressed their request in this regard. For Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, the divisions within his party's caucus on the issue are after all normal. “This is a great strength of the Liberal Party: we represent everyone. We have discussions which are sometimes difficult, everyone has the right to take a position,” he said on Wednesday.
Criminal or not?
Faced with the “appalling” rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the country, Justin Trudeau also appealed for calm during his speech on Wednesday. “We have seen for too many days now a terrible rise in anti-Semitism, attacks on synagogues, hateful and targeted demonstrations on Jewish businesses, community centers, Jewish daycares. This is unacceptable,” he lamented.
“At the same time, the rise of Islamophobia in Canada, the attacks and intolerance, a recrimination of anyone who dares to show a Palestinian flag, that too is not who we are as Canadians,” he added. He invited Canadians to stay united and “listen to each other better” in the context of the conflict which has been raging for more than a month now.
At the same time, the comments of Montreal imam Adil Charkaoui, in support of Palestine, caused several elected officials to react. The latter allegedly prayed to God to “take care” of Israelis during a demonstration. “God, take care of the aggressor Zionists. O God, make sure you leave none,” he declared last October 31.
On Wednesday, Yves-François Blanchet did not hesitate to qualify the words of Mr. Charkaoui of “criminals”. The day before, Prime Minister François Legault was also indignant, affirming that this was “incitement to hatred, to violence”.
Prime Minister Trudeau, however, avoided commenting on the criminality of Mr. Charkaoui's speech.
The remarks made during the demonstration were cited in the House by the leader of the Bloc Québécois during the question period. “Did the Prime Minister say that preacher Charkaoui committed a criminal act by uttering these words publicly? » asked Mr. Blanchet. “These words are unacceptable and anti-Semitic, an insult to the lives and hopes of millions of people around the world, including millions of people who perished in the Holocaust,” Mr. Trudeau responded.
Questioned again about the criminal nature of Mr. Charkaoui's statements, the Prime Minister still has not commented. The Bloc leader also invited him to call for help Canada's special representative responsible for the fight against Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby, whose silence has been noted since the start of the conflict.
Earlier Wednesday morning, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, who is Jewish, said that Mr. Charkaoui's comments “crossed the criminal line” and said he hoped for police intervention. The Minister of Transport and Justin Trudeau's political lieutenant for Quebec, Pablo Rodriguez, described these comments as “hateful and dangerous.”
In a video posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Adil Charkaoui claimed to be the victim of a smear campaign and “false accusations from the political class”.
Federal MPs adopted two motions on the conflict late Wednesday. The first motion, presented by MP Anthony Housefather, condemns Hamas' attacks against Israel and calls for the release of hostages held by Hamas. Montreal MP Sameer Zuberi proposed a motion calling for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Both motions were adopted unanimously.