Palmer: MLA criticizes PM for lack of action against anti-Semitism

Opinion: Since her departure from caucus, the NDP has ignored Selina Robinson.

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VICTORIA – Former NDP MLA Selina Robinson launched a bitter attack on Premier David Eby this week, accusing him of “illuminating” the Jewish community with empty promises to do something about anti-Semitism.

He noted how the prime minister, in a note to the Jewish community on Passover, listed how the NDP government was “taking action.”

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“This is the same list he has been using for five months to demonstrate the government’s actions to fight the rise of anti-Semitism,” Robinson said Wednesday.

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Some, like the promise of Holocaust education, had been brewing for years. Others, such as an anti-racism hotline, were repeatedly promised. However, the hotline is not yet operational.

Even the promise of additional funding for security fell short of what was needed.

“Yes, funding for additional security is welcome,” Robinson acknowledged. “But what other community needs to have extra police officers at community events here and now?

“What other community has to hire security to escort speakers to venues? Do you have to advise your children not to wear their school uniforms or their Jewish star to hide their Jewish identity because it is not safe? Do community volunteers have to be trained to help with security?

“The only thing this government has on the table to address the rise of Jew-hatred is a little money for security,” the MLA said. “No other measures are being taken to protect a community under siege. There is no plan.

“I just wish the prime minister would stop criticizing the Jewish community in British Columbia, here and now.”

Robinson spoke during the debate on the Anti-Racism Act, NDP legislation to eliminate systemic racism in provincial institutions. The key provision establishes a committee to develop a two-year plan to promote “Indigenous, Black and racialized” public servants.

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“As a non-racialized person who is regularly attacked for being Jewish, I can attest to the impact, pain and trauma that hate can have not only on one person but on an entire community,” Robinson said.

“But even this bill doesn’t have a plan. It is a bill that requires public bodies to develop a plan. The government is not even acting based on what it wants other public bodies to act on. This is gaslighting, it’s crazy.

“When it comes to anti-Semitism, whether in our province’s universities or on our streets, all the prime minister has done is wring his hands and say he condemns these acts,” he continued.

“He pretends that he doesn’t have a role or that the government doesn’t have a role in stemming a tide of hate, vitriol and violence directed toward a minority group.

“Perhaps the government should start with its own action plan even before the legislation is passed.”

Eby forced Robinson out of the cabinet earlier this year over some ill-advised comments about Palestine. He initially accepted his apology but later retracted it following a backlash from the Muslim community, some MLAs and party supporters.

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Robinson says that during Prime Minister John Horgan’s government, “I was tasked, as an openly identified Jew, who is well connected to the Jewish community, to help facilitate a relationship with the community.”

Not so with Eby: “The message to me has been: ‘Don’t be too Jewish, that creates a problem for us.’ “They told me I had to leave a job I love because I was too Jewish.”

Even after Eby ousted her from the cabinet, she attempted to bridge the gap between the Jewish and Muslim communities.

“I proposed to the prime minister a program and an idea to heal two communities affected by racism,” he said.

“What did they tell me in the prime minister’s office? They told me he is too political. It doesn’t matter if communities are suffering. “Now is not the time because we have elections in six months.”

It’s been a lonely few weeks for Robinson since he resigned from the NDP caucus on March 6.

BC United MLA Michael Lee recently joined her on a tour of Israel organized for politicians. BC United MLA Ellis Ross gave a strong speech in support of Robinson on Wednesday.

The New Democrats have mostly ignored it.

However, the prime minister’s office provided the following when I asked for his reaction to the gaslighting allegation:

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“Jewish people in British Columbia have experienced horrific acts of anti-Semitism, a disturbing trend that has only increased since the October 7 terrorist attacks.

“Since then, I have been listening and learning from people in the Jewish community and regularly attending meetings with leaders. Together, we have taken steps to address the rise in anti-Semitism, including making Holocaust education mandatory for high school students and grants to address safety, security, graffiti removal and other measures.

“I will continue to listen, learn and take action because hate of any kind has no place in British Columbia”

Robinson is nearing the end of his political career. She will get perhaps a question and a speech or two before the House adjourns on May 16.

So the party he served for two decades and the government he served for almost seven years will get rid of his voice, hoping to never hear it again in the political arena.

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