April 17th, 2024

‘We won’t forget:’ How some Muslims view Poilievre’s stance on Israel-Hamas war

By Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press on March 28, 2024.

Pierre Poilievre rises during question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. A spokesman for a regional Muslim advocacy group says the Conservative leader's stance on the Israel-Hamas war could complicate his party's relationship with Muslim Canadians. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

OTTAWA – A spokesman for a regional Muslim advocacy group says Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war could complicate his party’s relationship with Muslim Canadians.

Nawaz Tahir of the Hikma Public Affairs Council in London, Ont., met Poilievre during the leader’s outreach efforts in southwestern Ontario last summer.

Tahir says he believes Poilievre has missed chances to show compassion with Muslims and that building ties could be, in his words, “much more difficult now.”

Poilievre’s reluctance to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza came up in January when Conservative MP Garnett Genuis met members of Mississauga’s Pakistani and Muslim communities.

In a video shared on social media, Genuis admits the party’s position may not be one that is “100 per cent” agreed with, but says defeating Hamas is “critical” to establishing lasting peace for Palestinians.

A Conservative spokesman says Poilievre has said clearly that Israel has a right to defend itself and that Palestinians need humanitarian relief “as a result of the war that Hamas has started.”

Conservatives have been trying to nurture the party’s relationship with Muslims and others as part of an overall effort to grow support among newcomer and faith communities.

Tahir says Muslims have been disappointed in Poilievre’s opposition to funding a UN aid agency amid allegations that some of its staff were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks that triggered the war.

His rejection of a case brought against Israel in the International Court of Justice has also left some feeling dissatisfied, he said.

“We won’t forget,” Tahir said in a recent interview. “There’s no chance that the Muslim community will forget the Conservative position here.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2024.

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