(Ottawa) The president of the National Council of Canadian Muslims suddenly canceled a meeting scheduled for Monday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying it was pointless to speak with a government that cannot protect the Palestinians and which has not posed “tangible” actions to counter hate crimes in the country.
“We no longer believe that it is productive to discuss with this Prime Minister,” declared the president of the organization, Stephen Brown, at a press conference on Monday. There is nothing new to say. We have already said everything. »
Mr. Trudeau did not directly address this canceled meeting on Monday before question period in the Commons, limiting his comments to the National Day of Commemoration of the Attack at the Quebec Mosque and Action against the Islamophobia. His office later said he had “nothing to add.”
Mr Brown was due to meet the Prime Minister on Monday to discuss tackling anti-Muslim hatred. He decided to cancel the meeting, he said, because the prime minister had so far neglected to follow through on promises made to the Muslim community during the 2015 election campaign that brought him to power. in Ottawa. In particular, he deplores the fact that more prosecutions are not being made against the perpetrators of hate crimes and that programs intended to prevent such crimes, such as the financing of surveillance cameras around religious sites, are not adequately funded.
“It has become clear that we only seem to achieve political reform when our lives, or our security, are destroyed,” Mr. Brown said. Our government has failed to pass substantive legislation against hate crimes. »
According to the Muslim leader, there is nothing to indicate that Ottawa is ready to put pressure on Israel so that the Jewish state slows down its bombings on the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, including the brutal attack against Israel on the 7th. Last October provoked a massive military response.
“We want the government to take real, concrete steps to reduce Islamophobia in this country (and) to end hostilities in the Middle East,” Brown said.
“It’s good when we are told: “we are concerned about the situation”. But being concerned about the situation is not enough: what we really need to see are tangible actions to bring about change. »
The International Court of Justice
He finally stressed that Canada had broken with many of its allies by refusing to call on Israel to follow the orders of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which on Friday called on the Jewish state to prevent a genocide of the Palestinians. Ottawa has so far said it supports the ICJ, but that support does not mean the government accepts the premises of South Africa’s complaint to the Hague tribunal.
The Prime Minister has always indicated that Canada does not necessarily agree with the premise of South Africa’s argument, but he has never clarified whether he rejects this request or whether Canada will respect the decision of the international tribunal on an alleged “genocide of the Palestinians”.
According to Mr. Brown, this posture demonstrates that the federal Liberals only support justice for certain groups, instead of defending multilateral institutions. “They have compromised the integrity of the rules-based international order and the integrity of the ICJ, by challenging the premises of this case,” he said on Monday.
Mr. Trudeau was swept to power in 2015 in part on his promise to end a particularly divisive period in federal politics and adopt a more humanitarian approach to government.
That year’s election campaign coincided with a wave of migration to Europe punctuated by the tragic death of Alan Kurdi, a two-year-old Syrian boy, whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey and contributed to to crystallize the consternation of public opinion at the fate of Syrian refugees.
Many Muslims named their children after Trudeau because of his promise to maintain equality and tolerance, Mr. Brown said. “This great promise now seems broken – and perhaps irreparably so. »
The National Council of Canadian Muslims also expresses concern over Ottawa’s decision to suspend funding to a United Nations agency that supports the Palestinians (UNRWA), in response to allegations that some of its employees played a role in the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.
Ottawa ordered a temporary pause on “any additional funding” for UNRWA, which the Liberals had recently described as essential to keeping Palestinians alive.
This decision follows Washington’s freezing of funds intended for the agency, after its director fired employees suspected of being involved in the Hamas attack, without specifying the role they could have played.
Mr Brown said on Monday it was essential that someone provide vital aid to Palestinians in Gaza and support those facing a surge in violence in the West Bank.
International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said Monday that Canada would be able to secure funds for the Palestinians through other NGOs such as the World Food Program, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders and the Humanitarian Coalition, a group of Canadian charities such as Oxfam.
“Our level of support for Palestinian civilians will not be diminished by (this decision),” Minister Hussen said.