PM won’t say whether MP who attacked government’s Gaza policy will stay in current role

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skirted the question Thursday when he was asked whether one of his key MPs should stay in his parliamentary secretary role after railing against the government’s approach to the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Rob Oliphant, parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, was recorded in a Zoom call with a constituent sharply criticizing the Liberal government’s response to the genocide case against Israel and the decision to defund a UN relief agency in the middle of a famine. Oliphant also said he’s considered stepping down from his parliamentary secretary role.

Trudeau was asked Thursday if he thinks Oliphant should stay on as parliamentary secretary. The prime minister didn’t answer the question; instead, he said the “diversity” of opinions among Liberal MPs reflects the communities they serve.

WATCH | Liberal caucus has ‘difficult conversations’ on Gaza, says Trudeau: 

Liberal caucus has ‘difficult conversations’ on Gaza, says Trudeau

Asked about a leaked conversation in which Liberal MP Rob Oliphant sharply criticized the way the prime minister has approached foreign policy on Gaza, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a diversity of opinions is a source of strength in the Liberal Party.

“The kinds of conversations that go on within our party are not always easy, but they reflect that diversity of conversations happening across the country,” Trudeau told reporters during a press conference in Winnipeg.

“We are continuing, as a country, to engage in the full complexities of the situation with a steadfast focus on bringing forward peace, stability and standing up for the rights of people to live in peace and stability.”

The conversation was recorded without Oliphant’s knowledge. A copy of the recording was provided to CBC News.

CBC is not identifying the constituent — who has been calling for a ceasefire in the conflict — because she fears publicity would lead to professional reprisals.

Oliphant told CBC News that the constituent was in pain over the crisis in Gaza and he’d hoped their conversation would remain private. He added that he made no statements in that exchange that he would not be willing to defend in public.

On the call, Oliphant decried Canada’s recent decision to defund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the main UN agency providing aid to Palestinian refugees.

“When I read that we were pausing money to UNRWA — I’m going to be very clear — it was political. And I don’t just mean domestic politics. It has to do with our allies,” Oliphant told his constituent. “I thought it was the wrong decision.”

Canada was the second country in the world to suspend its funding for UNRWA, following the United States. It did so in response to an Israeli claim that 12 or 13 UNRWA staff had participated in various capacities in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

A man in a blue suit reads from a sheet of paper.
Parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs Rob Oliphant rises during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen defended his government’s decision to suspend funding to UNRWA when asked about Oliphant’s comments on Thursday.

“We haven’t ended our relationship with UNRWA. We’ve paused funding pending the results of this investigation, which is being conducted by the United Nations itself,” he said, adding that the government has boosted funding to other aid organizations.

During the recorded call, Oliphant also criticized the government’s response to the genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, which caused widespread confusion about where Canada stands.

Statements by Trudeau and Joly were widely misreported in mainstream media and on social media as dismissing the South African case and taking the side of Israel. In fact, their statements carefully avoided either rejecting or endorsing South Africa’s case against Israel.

“I would not have done what the government did and I advised them not to do that, because I knew it would be misunderstood, and I think it was misunderstood as not agreeing with South Africa’s case, and that could be perceived as not believing they should bring the case,” Oliphant told his constituent.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Oliphant’s comments show the Trudeau government failed to take a clear position on the Israel-Hamas war.

“It’s another example of how Justin Trudeau is a two-faced phony on the Middle East,” he told reporters Thursday.

“Trudeau’s been absolutely incomprehensible on the Middle East. He has no clear position of any kind.”

NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said it’s “appalling” that Oliphant hasn’t been more vocal about his opinions.

“If he actually thinks that UNRWA should have their funding restored … and that we should call for an immediate ceasefire, do everything we can, he should be brave enough to say it publicly,” she told reporters outside the House of Commons on Thursday.

MP Salma Zahid — one of several Liberals who have been calling for a ceasefire — echoed Trudeau’s remarks when asked about Oliphant’s comments.

“The Liberal Party reflects the diversity of this country,” she said.

“We have been having these difficult discussions in our caucus … It’s important to be the voice of your constituents here.”

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Pioneer Newz is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment