When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Maple Ridge on Tuesday, to announce a $200 million investment in a local battery company, he spoke a lot about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Then at Tuesday night’s meeting, Maple Ridge City Council passed a motion calling on him to do more.
Mayor Dan Ruimy will write the PM asking that the federal government:
• Recognize the humanitarian crisis unfolding as a result of the current conflict.
• Call for an immediate ceasefire and release of all hostages.
• Provide leadership in the flow humanitarian aid.
The motion also states that the mayor and council condemn all acts of anti‐Semitism, racism and Islamophobia in our country, which has risen this past month.
“We call on all levels of government to commit to ensuring our communities are just, safe and welcoming for all,” it said.
The call for a ceasefire was an issue Trudeau skated around on Tuesday.
The PM called for an end to the civilian casualties, standing in E-One Moli’s battery plant in Maple Ridge.
“The human tragedy that is unfolding in Gaza is heart wrenching,” he said, adding the price of justice cannot be the suffering of all Palestinian civilians.
“I urge the government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint, because the world is watching,” said Trudeau.
“For weeks we’ve been calling now for a sustained humanitarian pause, and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians,” he continued.
“Hamas needs to stop using Palestinians as human shields. They need to release all hostages immediately and unconditionally.”
He was asked by media why he will not go as far as to call for a ceasefire.
“I think we can all agree we want to see an end to the violence in the Middle East, there’s no debate around that,” he said, adding the government is working to keep Canadians safe, and to try and contribute to an end to the violence.
He also called for an end anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Canada that has been stoked by the conflict in Gaza.
“When a kid feels scared to go to school in the morning because of their religion, because of their ethnicity, that’s not just on the government, that’s on all of us, to say it stops now. My biggest concern, is how we bring Canadians together.”
The local motion was brought to council by Coun. Ahmed Yousef, who said it speaks to humanity, peace, a ceasefire and the preservation of human life.
“I’d like to raise my hands to supplicate and pray, for the wounded civilians, the unarmed, the elderly, the women, and the youth who see no future amid the rubble and death that we’re experiencing and seeing all over our screens,” Yousef said at council.
He said a story of a woman losing one of her newborn twins hit home for him.
“It caused me to look into my twin daughters eyes, and it also caused me to weep, because I couldn’t imagine not having one of them there,” said Yousef.
He and Coun. Jenny Tan were two of 52 councillors and mayors across B.C. that signed a letter calling for a ceasefire. Tan spoke about how powerless she is to impact the situation.
“The only thing I know, is that the killing of unarmed women and children is unacceptable, and there is very, very little I can do,” said Tan. “This is a motion in front of me, and this is one of the very few ways I can offer my support.”
Yousef, who is of Egyptian heritage, said he and Mayor Dan Ruimy, who is Jewish, crafted the wording of the motion together.
Ruimy also spoke to need for the community to “stand strong.”
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with each other. It doesn’t matter where we come from, it doesn’t matter the colour of our skin, it doesn’t matter our religion,” said Ruimy.