Peter Power Archives The Canadian Press Sarah Jama was elected earlier this year in a by-election in Hamilton Centre.
The NDP leader of Ontario asked one of the members of her caucus to withdraw a statement on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but this request has so far remained unanswered, while the first minister now calls on him to resign.
Sarah Jama, who was elected earlier this year in a by-election in Hamilton Centre, released a statement Tuesday denouncing “the generations-long occupation of Palestine” and what she called apartheid and of human rights violations in Gaza.
“Especially in this context, the news coming out of Israel and Palestine is deeply concerning,” she wrote in a statement posted on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
“ We must seek a solution to this endless cycle of death and destruction: ending all occupation of Palestinian land and ending apartheid. »
I'm reflecting on my role as a politician who is participating in this settler colonial system, and I ask that all politicians do the same. #FreePalastine pic.twitter.com/pYO1gyuXt4
— Sarah Jama (she/her) (@SarahJama_) October 10, 2023
Jama wrote that her heart “sincerely goes out to all those affected by this ongoing violence,” but did not explicitly mention the weekend attack by Hamas militants, which has been described as the worst massacre of civilians in Israeli history.
The attack and the subsequent Israeli response in Gaza have so far killed at least 2,200 people.
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The head of New Democratic Party (NDP) Marit Stiles said Tuesday night that Jama's statement was not approved by caucus and called on her to retract and “clearly state that she denounces all violence against people Israeli and Palestinian.”
“Hamas' terrorist attacks against thousands of innocent Israeli civilians are unjustifiable and must be unequivocally condemned,” she added.
Ford calls for resignation
As of Wednesday afternoon, Sarah Jama had not yet withdrawn the statement or responded publicly. Ms. Stiles had not yet commented on her silence.
But Premier Doug Ford called on Ms. Jama to resign as MPP.
“Marit Stiles and the Ontario NDP have proven time and time again that they tolerate these hateful views and actions by keeping Ms. Jama in their caucus,” he lamented in a statement.
“As Premier, I am doing what Ms Stiles does not want to do and calling on Sarah Jama to immediately resign as MPP. His views do not represent Ontario. They have no place in the Legislative Assembly or in this province. »
Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser, meanwhile, called on Ms. Stiles to remove her MP from the NDP caucus.
Sarah Jama was criticized by Jewish groups during her election campaign in March, B'nai Brith accusing her of being a “radical anti-Israel activist.”
She says the criticism comes from what she describes as advocacy for Palestinian rights and her association with student groups “who organized Israeli Apartheid Week on campus a decade ago.” which according to her should not be confused with anti-Semitism.
“I am wholeheartedly against anti-Semitism,” she assured during a debate.
CUPE also criticized
Ms. Jama's most recent post on social media platform X was a share from the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), facing its own public condemnation for its president's statements.
The day after the attack on Israel, Fred Hahn said he was grateful for the power of resistance around the world, because resistance is “fruitful” and “brings progress.” Mr. Hahn has since written that he would never approve of violence and that everyone deserves to live in peace.
CUPE Ontario says it is now “targeted by a pro- highly organized Israeli government that seeks to control the anti-Palestinian narrative presented to Canadians and intimidate any person or organization that does not respect its priorities.”
“This lobby rejects any attempt or even any reference to context, nuance or call for impartiality in the history of Israel/Palestine,” the union wrote in a statement.
“True to form, he targeted the president of CUPE Ontario, Fred Hahn, and CUPE Local 3906 for their recognition of the rights of Palestinians under international law to resist occupation through armed struggle. »