Local government leaders in B.C. ask Canada to call for ceasefire

Two Vancouver city councillors are among a number of local government leaders asking the federal government to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Kier Junos has the story.

Local government leaders in British Columbia are asking the federal government to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East.

City councillors, mayors, and directors from municipalities across the province are putting their names on an open letter to Ottawa to plead for Canada to take action.

“Ultimately, even one life lost is too many,” the letter reads. “We mourn with the communities who have lost loved ones and family members, grieve the unconscionable number of innocent lives lost, and watch in anguish at the unprecedented degree of violence and human suffering.”

The war in the Middle East, now in its sixth week, began on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into Israel, killing an estimated 1,200 people and taking roughly 240 others back into Gaza as hostages.

Israel has retaliated with daily air and land strikes, and the Hamas-run health authority says more than 11,000 people have been killed in the month since.

In the letter, the signed leaders say they’re asking for the Canadian government to: call for a ceasefire, support unrestricted access to humanitarian aid, and secure the release of all hostages.

“A pause is not sufficient in addressing the real humanitarian crisis right now, and it’s also not long-term. It doesn’t stop the bombing, and it doesn’t stop the targeting of civilians,” said Burnaby City Councillor Daniel Tetrault.

The leaders cite a “moral obligation to speak up” and represent their communities as the reasoning behind the letter.

On Oct. 27, the UN General Assembly adopted a motion to call for an immediate and sustained “humanitarian truce.” In the vote to adopt the motion, Canada abstained from voting. Earlier, it also proposed an amendment seeking an explicit condemnation of Hamas, which did not pass.

Municipal leaders in B.C. state they are “ashamed” by Canada’s abstention and say the country “sat on the sidelines” while it should have been a leader.

“We stand with innocent Palestinian and Israeli civilians, during a heartbreaking time, in saying that Canada must act now,” the letter states.

As of Nov. 14, more than 50 municipal leaders have signed the letter.

Among them are Adrianne Carr and Christine Boyle from the City of Vancouver, Mayor Mike Hurley from the City of Burnaby, Councilor Jessica McIlroy from North Vancouver, Councilor Ahmed Yousef from Maple Ridge, Councilor Jaimie McEvoy from New Westminster and Councilor Michael Wolfe from Richmond.

At the moment, the City of Burnaby is believed to be the first Canadian municipality to pass a motion asking the federal government to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

-With files from the Canadian Press and Kier Junos

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