British Columbia minister resigns over Middle East comments

British Columbia Post-Secondary Education Minister Selina Robinson is resigning from her cabinet position after sparking widespread outrage by describing Israel as being founded on “shit ground.”

Prime Minister David Eby announced that Robinson would resign on Monday afternoon, following growing calls for his ouster over the weekend.

“We have reached a challenging but necessary decision,” Eby said. “The depth of work Minister Robinson needs to do to address the harm she has caused is significant and is incompatible with her continuing as her minister.”

Robinson, who represents the Coquitlam-Maillardville community, will remain in the BC NDP caucus, the premier said.

This is a developing story and will be updated. Below is the previous story from The Canadian Press.

British Columbia Premier David Eby will meet with the media unscheduled at the cabinet office in Vancouver amid growing calls for the ouster of Post-Secondary Education Minister Selina Robinson over comments about the Middle East.

Eby’s office also canceled a previously scheduled housing announcement ahead of the Cabinet Office event at 1:30 p.m.

Calls for Robinson’s ouster from pro-Palestinian groups and others have intensified following comments she made during an online panel last week, saying Israel was founded on a “shitty piece of land.”

Dozens of protesters gathered outside an NDP caucus retreat in Surrey, British Columbia, early Monday, where they attempted to deliver a petition they said had 11,000 signatures calling for Robinson to be removed as minister.

Protesters carrying signs reading “Selina must go” headed to the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford hotel before leaving the petition and documents on Palestinian history outside a meeting room.

Robinson has issued a second apology for the comments, saying she is committed to making peace and will receive anti-Islamophobia training.

Over the weekend, a group of mosques and Islamic associations in British Columbia sent a letter to Eby calling for Robinson to be removed from office.

The groups also said they would not welcome any NDP legislature members or candidates for the upcoming election to their sacred spaces until Eby takes action against Robinson.

In Monday’s apology, Robinson said his comments had “broken the trust of many” and that he would have to earn it back.

“I am very sorry. I take full responsibility,” Robinson said in his final statements. “My words were inappropriate, wrong, and I now understand how they have contributed to Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism.”

In earlier comments Thursday, Robinson apologized for being disrespectful and said he was referring to the land on which Israel was founded having limited natural resources.

Coquitlam resident Ramona Chu was at the Surrey protest.

She said Robinson’s original comments made her feel sick and that his apology seemed “pretty empty.”

“It was frame that she made a mistake. But this is not a mistake. This is a pattern. It’s obviously a mindset,” Chu said of Robinson.

“I think, first of all, she needs to step down and give up her position of power and then she needs to educate herself about colonialism. She needs to educate herself more about what’s going on in Palestine.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2024.

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