Hamilton MPP Jama vows to challenge censure, makes first public appearances since NDP ouster

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Published November 7, 2023 at 3:35 pm

Hamilton MPP Sarah Jama pro-Palestinian rally Israel-Hamas war Palestinians Jews Middle East war
Hamilton Centre MPP Sarah Jama speaks at a pro-Palestinian rally in Hamilton on Nov. 5. COURTESY @YUMIYUMB VIA X

Hamilton-Centre Independent MPP Sarah Jama has vowed to challenge the censure motion that prevents her from speaking in the legislature, reportedly refusing to apologize for her controversial comments about the Israel-Hamas war.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called on Jama to resign and his government introduced a motion on Oct. 16 to censure her in the legislature. The motion was passed on Oct. 23, preventing Jama from speaking unless she apologizes and removes her remarks, which she has not done.

Jama made her first public appearances last weekend since she was ejected from the Ontario NDP caucus and censured by the legislature.

“This is a question of free speech. I think I have the democratic right to say what I need to say,” Jama told Vice news site. Jama was interviewed during a pro-Palestinian rally on Nov. 4 in Toronto. “I don’t plan on apologizing and I plan on operating as an independent.”

The interview is reportedly her first since her controversial social media statement about the Israel-Hamas war. Her statement last month had sparked condemnation from many in part because she failed to mention the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 that killed about 1,400 Israelis. She had also accused Israel of being an “apartheid” state. Some human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, had made that conclusion in its criticism about Israel.

Jama hasn’t answered requests for interviews with many media outlets including inthehammer.com.

In a recent social media post, Jama announced that her constituency office is opening at 630 Main St. E. on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 9 a.m. She also revealed a new logo for her office that replaced her NDP one.

“We’re welcoming you into the space on November 14th at 9 AM to hear directly from us about next steps regarding the office. I’ll share my plans to operate as an Independent Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, invite you to tour the renovated space, and will share my plans to challenge the censure motion,” she wrote.

More than 10,000 Palestinians reportedly killed in war as Jama repeats calls for ceasefire

Jama attended pro-Palestinian rallies in Toronto on Saturday and Hamilton on Sunday, repeating her calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the territory controlled by Hamas, and accusing Israel of injustices against Palestinians. Designated a terrorist group in Canada and many countries, Hamas rules over two million Palestinians in the territory.

Hamas’s massacre and kidnapping of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 provoked the latest round of war between the militant organization and Israel. Israel launched deadly retaliatory airstrikes and a ground invasion in Gaza, which prompted pro-Palestinian supporters including Jama to call the actions a “genocide.” Israel and its supporters deny accusations it is committing war crimes and genocide, saying the state has the right to defend itself and destroy Hamas. Israel and the United Nations say Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as “human shields.”

The United Nations began an investigation into the conflict, saying there is “clear evidence that war crimes may have been committed” by both sides since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and Israel’s retaliatory military action.

The growing crisis in Gaza has compelled seven independent United Nations experts to release a recent statement calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire” and warning that “the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide.”

More than 10,000 Palestinians have died in the war since Oct. 7, according to the Gaza Health Ministry as of Nov. 6.

Jama has Palestinian family members, helping fuel her passionate views about the conflict. Those views led to intense political and public backlash along with a wave of support. Jama had said she and her office were surprised that the Ontario NDP removed her from the party caucus on Oct. 23, which left them locked out of emails, calendars and databases used to communicate with and help constituents address urgent issues.

In explaining her decision, Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles said in a statement that Jama had “undertaken a number of unilateral actions that have undermined our collective work and broken and the trust of her colleagues.”

As part of the fallout over her remarks, Jama threatened to sue Ford on Oct. 19 if he didn’t retract his “defamatory” comments about her in response to her controversial post on the Israel-Hamas war. The status of the possible lawsuit was not immediately known.

 

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