Open letter to prime minister Justin Trudeau calling for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war

TORONTO – Thirty-three MPs – twenty-three of them Liberals – have written a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to support a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. “Canada has long been a voice for peace. The longer this conflict continues, the more innocent civilians will pay with their lives. We demand that Canada join the growing international call for an immediate ceasefire. Canada must act before more innocent children are killed,” the letter reads (here below). 

Signatories include former minister Omar Alghabra and six current parliamentary secretaries, the two MPs Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Yasir Naqvi who are currently running for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, eight NDP MPs including leader of the House, Peter Julian, and both Green Party MPs.

“We are in a situation where without a ceasefire I don’t see how we can respect international law,” Greens leader Elizabeth May said in an interview with CBC. “But that doesn’t mean we’re telling Israel it can’t defend itself. Far from it.” In her opinion, Israel deserves assistance in eliminating Hamas as a terrorist organization, but this cannot be done at the expense of civilian lives.

The parliamentarians condemn the Hamas attacks that killed more than a thousand Israeli civilians on October 7 and called for the release of all hostages. And they call on the government to push humanitarian corridors into Gaza so that aid can be provided to Palestinians.

One of the signatories, Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi, said calling for a ceasefire does not mean Israel does not have the right to defend itself. “Every country has a full obligation to defend its citizens, to ensure that they live in safety and protection,” he said. “At the same time, there is a very well established legal doctrine and military doctrine that relates to civilians and that civilian casualties must be avoided to a very high degree of caution.”

Liberal MP Salma Zahid echoed Zuberi’s comments in an interview with CBC. “The longer this conflict goes on, the more innocent civilians will pay with their lives,” she said.

A number of Liberal MPs, including Ben Carr and Anthony Housefather, have instead spoken out against ceasefire calls, citing Israel’s right to defend itself and concerns that Hamas could use a ceasefire to rebuild and regain strength. The prime minister’s party, therefore, is divided on the issue. For his part, Justin Trudeau – who in recent days has been involved in a summit with Caribbean countries on climate change – spoke last Friday (before the letter from the thirty-three MPs was made public) – stating that “there are many different perspectives, but there are shared fears and concerns among all parliamentarians and a commitment every single day to ensure the safety of everyone here in Canada and everywhere in the world.”

The leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, was more clear-cut: “The only way forward, to save human lives, is to see a peaceful solution. The war will only result in more deaths and more destruction” said Singh, calling for a ceasefire. fire. No Conservative or Bloc Québécois MP signed the letter from the thirty-three MPs. And during Monday’s debate in the House, Conservative Michael Chong said Canada “should resist” calls for a ceasefire until Hamas is “eliminated.”

In the pic above, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the summit with Caribbean countries in the midst of the crisis in the Middle East (photo from Twitter – @JustinTrudeau)