July 17th, 2024

Eby says exit of Robinson from B.C. NDP is ‘humbling,” but disagrees on antisemitism

By The Canadian Press on March 7, 2024.

Three groups representing British Columbia's Jewish community have issued a joint response to a former provincial minister's decision to quit the New Democrat government, saying they are "profoundly saddened" by the antisemitism she has experienced. Selina Robinson, then-Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future, speaks at an announcement in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, July 20, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

VANCOUVER – British Columbia Premier David Eby says the decision of former cabinet minister Selina Robinson to quit the NDP, citing antisemitism in the caucus, is a “humbling” moment for him.

But Eby says he disagrees with Robinson’s “characterization” of her colleagues, and he supports all members of the caucus.

He says he spoke to Robinson hours before her announcement and he wishes they could have addressed her concerns together, calling it a “missed opportunity.”

Robinson, who is Jewish, announced Wednesday she had left the party and would sit as an independent, citing antisemitism in the caucus and indifference to the problem.

Three groups representing B.C’s Jewish community issued a letter saying Eby needs to address antisemitism in the NDP caucus and beyond after Robinson’s exit.

The open letter by the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, the Rabbinical Association of Vancouver and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says they are “profoundly saddened” by Robinson’s departure and the treatment she says she suffered.

They say Eby needs to “demonstrate leadership” and deal with antisemitism in his caucus, his government, and B.C. as a whole.

Robinson resigned as post-secondary education minister last month after saying modern Israel was founded on “a crappy piece of land,” sparking outcry from pro-Palestinian groups that called the comments racist and Islamophobic.

Robinson said Wednesday her heart had been “shattered” by her treatment and that there were antisemitic voices within the NDP caucus.

The Jewish group’s letter issued late Wednesday says the community was already feeling vulnerable in light of the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the resulting conflict with Hamas.

NDP house leader Ravi Kahlon on Wednesday denied there was antisemitism in the caucus and said Eby has been a staunch advocate of anti-racism initiatives.

Robinson also said she felt she was a victim of double standards and her voice was no longer being heard within the party.

The letter from the Jewish groups says they have relied on “strong voices at the cabinet table to advocate” on the behalf of their community, and that recent polling showed 75 per cent of B.C. residents are concerned about rising antisemitism in the province.

In a post on social media platform X late Wednesday, NDP Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Katrina Chen said that “not wanting to see more kids and people die in Gaza is not antisemitism.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2024.

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