Peter Power The Canadian Press “We must end the death and destruction in Israel and Palestine,” chanted New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh (pictured here on October 14) on Tuesday.
The rising human toll in Gaza reveals increasingly clear cracks in the consensus of support for Israel in the Canadian Parliament, as the New Democratic Party (NDP) insists that Canada seek a ceasefire .
“We must end the death and destruction in Israel and Palestine,” chanted NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during question period Tuesday.
< p>He cited a strike on a Gaza hospital that left hundreds dead Tuesday evening, local time, to reiterate his party's position: the NDP demands a ceasefire in Gaza.
< p>This request was echoed by at least three Liberal MPs. Ontario elected officials Yasir Naqvi and Iqra Khalid took to social media to also demand that Canada plead for a ceasefire. Their colleague Salma Zahid made the same request in the House.
On Monday, NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson suggested that Canadians found the “violations of law” represented by Israel's military response, described as “revenge on a massive scale.”
No other federal party has gone so far in its nuances regarding support for Israel, a country which was the victim of a major terrorist attack 10 days ago and which is in the midst of a military response targeting the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
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“We feel that the NDP stands apart. Certainly, on the side of the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the Bloc [Québécois], support for Israel is quite solid,” confirms Richard Marceau, vice-president of the Center for Israeli and Jewish Affairs. The representative of the country's Jewish communities believes that the best way to ensure a return to peace in this region of the Middle East is the total destruction of Hamas, which is the objective of the current military operation . “If there is a ceasefire tomorrow morning, what do we do with Hamas? »
The idea of a ceasefire was not made explicit in the imposing declaration of some 700 words released to clarify the position of the progressive party two days after the surprise attack by Hamas against Israeli civilians on the 7th. october. Rather, any “military solution” was rejected, while calling for “a credible peace process.”
However, NDP activists met in a convention a few days later, last weekend, in Hamilton, Ontario. Delegates took part in protests at the event to demand that their leader do more to defend Palestinian rights. The New Democrats ultimately lined up behind a motion that respected the broad outlines of the leader's pacifist position, calling Hamas' actions “terrorist” but demanding a “ceasefire” in the conflict.
The spokesperson for Canadian diplomacy, Minister Mélanie Joly, made no criticism of Israel on Tuesday. However, she reiterated her demand for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor for civilians stuck in Gaza.
“We appeal to Israel, Egypt, the United States, the G7, the Jordan, to all countries involved in this major crisis, the largest terrorist attack in the last 50 years in Israel, to ensure that civilians are protected,” she promised during a press scrum.< /p>
Moments of tension also emerged during a debate on the issue in the House of Commons on Monday evening, after interventions by the leader of the NDP and his MP Heather McPherson shocked other parliamentarians. “When we stop seeing the humanity in others, when we stop believing that all life has value, we pave the way for genocide,” said Jagmeet Singh, for example. However, he never accused Israel of this crime.
“The leader of the NDP seemed to show empathy towards the victims of the terrorist attack committed by Hamas until he added a ‘but’,” lamented Liberal MP Ben Carr. Conservative MP Garnett Genuis accused Mr Singh of “pleading for absolute pacifism”.
His colleague Melissa Lantsman took exception to Israel's military response being called “revenge.” “I wonder if the [NDP] MP can tell us whether she believes that Israel's response constitutes revenge or is rather an exercise of its right to defend itself. »
Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau carefully avoided saying whether he considered the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip legal, even though the UN high commissioner for human rights specifies that this siege is prohibited by international humanitarian law.
Over the weekend, the Canadian government began demanding the opening of a humanitarian corridor to Gaza. “The news from the hospital [affected by strikes on Gaza] is staggering and unacceptable,” Justin Trudeau responded on Tuesday. We are here to ensure that we do everything we can to […] that international law is followed, that civilians are protected and that hostages are released. »
Dissensions also in Quebec
In Quebec, on Tuesday, a motion from the Coalition Avenir Québec in support of Israel caused quite a stir when Québec solidaire (QS) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) refused to support it because it did not name the “violations international law” committed by the Jewish State.
“Unfortunately, this motion contains no mention of the Palestinian victims of this conflict, not a word,” denounced the spokesperson for international relations of QS, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, a few moments before abstaining from voting, like his colleagues.
” It's very sad. In retaliation for the Hamas terrorist attacks, the Israeli government was quick to rain bombs on Gaza, bombs that kill families, children, elders. »
QS and the PQ claim to have proposed changes that would condemn Israel's attacks against Palestinian civilians. “They [the Coalition Avenir Québec] refused to allow it to be added. Do you understand where the problem is? » lamented the PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, in the press scrum.
“The fact that we bomb civilians, that we bomb apartment buildings, that we create a blockade, that we starve, that we prevent people from having access to health services, there is rules of international law which say that we cannot do that,” added the new spokesperson for international relations of the PQ, Pascal Paradis.
The Minister of International Relations, who had originally tabled the motion “strongly condemning the terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas against Israel and its people,” did not stop Tuesday to explain its refusal to accept the opposition's proposed changes.
In the morning, she refused to say whether she believed that Israel was acting in accordance with international law. “Right now, it’s difficult to answer that question,” she said. Prime Minister François Legault, for his part, said he understood “that Israel wants to defend itself so that Hamas stops taking actions like that.”
With François Carabin