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Despite repeat claims that Canada supports Israel’s pledge to destroy Hamas as a political force, on Tuesday the Trudeau government endorsed a UN vote that would keep Hamas in place as the legitimate government of the Gaza Strip.
Officially known as “A/ES-10/L.27,” the General Assembly resolution demands an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” Although it also demands the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” no mention is made of Hamas, or of any requirement for the terrorist group to surrender or otherwise abrogate political control.
In effect, the resolution calls for the current conflict to end the same way as Israel’s prior clashes with Hamas, such as the 2014 Gaza War. In that case, Hamas claimed victory after an Egypt-brokered agreement established an open-ended, no-concession ceasefire between Palestinians and the Israeli Defense Forces.
In a Tuesday joint statement issued with Australia and New Zealand, Ottawa framed the latest resolution as a call for a “sustainable ceasefire,” adding “there is no role for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza.”
Nevertheless, the resolution very explicitly takes an anti-Israel tack.
The resolution’s official documentation writes that it is in reference to “Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
It was also drafted by a coalition of Arab states that included nations that have openly taken the Palestinian side in the current war, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which is currently sheltering Hamas’s top leadership.
Like much of the G7, Canada usually abstains on contentious votes related to Israel. By instead voting “yes” on A/ES-10/L.27, the Trudeau government sparked a rare instance of open public opposition from its own caucus.
“In my view, any cessation of hostilities requires Hamas to release all hostages and lay down arms and surrender … I disagree with our vote at the UN today,” read a statement by Montreal-area Liberal MP Anthony Housefather.
Marco Mendicino — who recently served as the government’s minister of public safety — called the resolution “unsupportable and unacceptable,” since it calls on Israel to “agree to what is, effectively, an unconditional ceasefire.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sometimes taken a critical line against Israel during the conflict, such as a November comment in which he accused Israel of killing “women,” “children” and “babies.” In that particular case, it sparked a rare public rebuke from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Trudeau’s outrage should be better directed at Hamas, which was “doing everything to keep (civilians) in harm’s way.”
Liberals split over UN vote calling for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas conflict
NP View: Canada has made its choice — Hamas
But the Liberal government has also endorsed the idea that Israel has a “right to defend itself” and that the conflict could only be ended through the destruction of Hamas. As Defence Minister Bill Blair said at the end of October, the terror group needed to be “eliminated as a threat.”
In a Tuesday scrum, the Globe and Mail’s Marieke Walsh directly asked Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly what had caused the government’s sudden about-face.
Walsh noted that the strategic situation in Gaza hadn’t changed all that much from last week, and asked if the Liberal government had started endorsing a ceasefire because it was “losing Muslim support and donors.”
Joly didn’t answer the question on Muslim support, but replied: “We saw that there’s just been more thousands of deaths happening in Gaza, and we think that hostages that are still in Gaza held by a terrorist organization, which is Hamas, need to be released…. What we all need to agree upon is the need for a lasting peace.”
IN OTHER NEWS
This week the Conservatives again voted against an updated version of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade agreement. The last time they did this, their quarrel was with a single non-binding line in the agreement that said Canada and Ukraine would “promote carbon pricing and measures to mitigate carbon leakage risks.” The bill is still moving through the House of Commons with NDP and Bloc Québécois support, but the Conservative thumbs-down did allow most of the Liberal caucus to claim that Tories hate Ukraine now. “Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives are following the American far-right and turning their backs on Ukraine in their time of need,” reads a Wednesday Liberal Party social media post.
In other Ukraine news, the Canadian Army is now saying it will have to spend $220 million to replace all the howitzers, tanks, rocket launchers and other small arms it’s sent to Ukraine. That wouldn’t be a crushing expenditure under typical circumstances, but the $220 million shortfall comes as the Canadian military is already being asked to trim $1 billion from its annual budget – all while the RCAF and Royal Canadian Navy are publicly saying that they’re so understaffed and resource-constrained that they’re no longer able to mount more than one operation at a time.
As has been mentioned often in this newsletter, the Canadian federal government has leaned hard into the doctrine of “anti-racism” – the notion that Canada’s basic structures are so irredeemably racist that they can only be countered by rewiring the entire government with “deliberate structures and supports” that favour the “equity-seeking.” The next major milestone in Ottawa’s anti-racism mission is an expansion of the Employment Equity Act, which would set racial and sexual identity “targets” for the federal government and anyone contracting with the federal government. The change was recommended in a task force report written by critical race theory scholars, who emphasized that the changes would not “impose quotas” on federal hiring. Nevertheless, an analysis by National Post columnist Jamie Sarkonak says it really, really looks like a quota system – and notes that federal employers are already openly soliciting applicants based on their identity.
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