February 26th, 2024

Eby to address media as pro-Palestinian groups push for B.C. minister’s removal

By Nono Shen, The Canadian Press on February 5, 2024.

Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future, speaks at an announcement in Vancouver, on Thursday, July 20, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

SURREY, B.C. – B.C. Premier David Eby is making an unscheduled media availability at the cabinet office in Vancouver amid mounting calls for the removal of Post-Secondary Education Minister Selina Robinson over remarks about the Middle East.

Eby’s office also cancelled a previously scheduled housing announcement, ahead of the 1:30 p.m. cabinet office event.

Calls for Robinson’s removal by pro-Palestinian groups and others have intensified over remarks she made during an online panel last week, saying Israel was founded on a “crappy piece of land.”

Dozens of protesters gathered outside an NDP caucus retreat in Surrey, B.C., earlier Monday where they tried to deliver a petition they said had 11,000 signatures calling for Robinson to be removed as a minister.

The protesters carrying signs saying “Selina must go” made their way into the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel before leaving the petition and documents about Palestinian history outside a meeting room.

Robinson has issued a second apology for the remarks, saying she is committed to making amends and will undergo anti-Islamophobia training.

Over the weekend, a collection of British Columbia mosques and Islamic associations sent a letter to Eby calling for Robinson to be removed from her role.

The groups also said they would not welcome any NDP legislature member or candidate for the next election to their sacred spaces until Eby takes action against Robinson.

In Monday’s apology, Robinson said her comments had “broken the trust of many” and that she would have to earn it back.

“I am very sorry. I bear full responsibility,” said Robinson in her latest remarks. “My words were inappropriate, wrong, and I now understand how they have contributed to Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism.”

In previous remarks on Thursday, Robinson apologized for being disrespectful and said she was referring to the land on which Israel was founded having limited natural resources.

Coquitlam resident Ramona Chu was at the Surrey protest.

She said Robinson’s original remarks made her feel sick, and that her apologies had felt “quite hollow.”

“It was framing that she made one mistake. But this is not one mistake. This is a pattern. It’s obviously a mindset,” Chu said of Robinson.

“I think, first of all, she needs to step down and give up her position of power and then she has to educate herself on colonialism. She needs to educate herself more about what’s going on in Palestine.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2024.

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