Canadian Leaders Rally in Solidarity with Israel Amid Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations

Canadian Leaders Rally in Solidarity with Israel Amid Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a sign at a rally in support of Israel, at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

In the wake of escalating violence in the Middle East, prominent Canadian political figures, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, have spoken out in support of Israel, condemning the recent Hamas attacks. Their statements come as pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in multiple Canadian cities, sparking debate and reflection among citizens.

Political Stance on Hamas

During a vigil held at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa, both Prime Minister Trudeau and Opposition Leader Poilievre made their positions clear.

“Hamas terrorists aren’t a resistance, they’re not freedom fighters. They are terrorists, and no one in Canada should be supporting them, much less celebrating them,” Trudeau stated, addressing the solemn crowd. This sentiment was echoed by Poilievre, who condemned the “incredible carnage” unleashed by Hamas, emphasizing that the organization does not speak for Palestinians, Muslims, or Canadians.

Two rallies were held in Halifax on Thanksgiving Monday — one in support of Israel, the other in support of the Palestinian territories. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Solidarity Rallies Across Canada

While the nation’s leaders were united in their support for Israel, many pro-Palestinian demonstrators took to the streets in various cities, including a notable gathering at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. Many participants were seen waving Palestinian flags, with chants echoing across the square: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Despite the heated emotions, speakers at the pro-Palestinian gatherings clarified that their aim was to advocate for Palestinian liberation, not to spread hate against the Jewish community.

A National Debate

The demonstrations have ignited discussions among Canadian citizens about the ongoing conflict. Sheila Mattar, a Palestinian-Canadian who attended the Toronto demonstration, expressed her generational trauma and emphasized her need to advocate against the atrocities.

However, the pro-Palestinian rally also faced opposition. Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow labeled the demonstration as “deplorable” and criticized it for glorifying the recent violence by Hamas against Israeli civilians.

On the other hand, a subsequent gathering in Toronto’s North York neighbourhood showcased a different perspective, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland joining others to express their unequivocal support for Israel’s right to defend itself.

International Repercussions and Consular Concerns

The global community is closely watching the situation. Over the weekend, a statement from a group of influential Western nations, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Italy, was released, showing steadfast support for Israel and an unequivocal condemnation of Hamas.

Additionally, there have been concerns regarding Canadians stranded in the conflict zone. Reports suggested challenges in accessing the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv, but Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly confirmed the embassy’s operation during the long weekend.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers remarks at an Ottawa-area event designed to show solidarity with Israelis amid an ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Looking Ahead

Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that he “unequivocally condemned” Hamas’ attacks and expressed grave concerns over the unfolding events.

Despite the official stance, the sentiment among Canadians remains diverse, with individuals like Eman Amar demanding apologies from politicians for supporting Israel. “Even though the government of Canada doesn’t stand with them, Canadian people will stand with them,” Amar expressed.