Where Does Canada Stand on the Gaza Flotilla?

The Government of Canada, joined by other parties in Parliament, has voiced its deep concerns for the Gaza flotilla.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, recently called on Canadians to avoid the Gaza flotilla. In the Minister’s own words:

“I strongly urge those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels. Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza.

“Canada recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns and its right to protect itself and its residents from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by preventing the smuggling of weapons.

“Canada recognizes that there are legitimate and constructive ways to help the people of Gaza. One way is to donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent. The organization has people on the ground in Gaza to help deliver, among other things, clean water and health care.

“I would note that Canada continues to call for the immediate return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for almost five years, to his family in Israel.” (Press Release, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, May 28, 2011)

Bob Rae, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, made a similar statement criticizing the flotilla:

“It’s not necessary in order to get humanitarian aid into Gaza,” said Rae. “If you’re interested in getting aid to Gaza, there is a very clear process to do that by going through the Red Cross and other international agencies.” (Calgary Sun, June 7, 2011)

Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP and the Official Opposition, has refused to endorse the flotilla despite his opposition to the arms blockade of Gaza:

“We think that the unauthorized intentions run severe risks,” said Layton, who met with the Israeli ambassador Tuesday. “It’s not an initiative that is supported by the NDP. We want the blockade to end according to the call by the United Nations.” (Calgary Sun, June 7, 2011)