After political setbacks, Hamilton MPP says ‘things will look a little bit different’
Published October 24, 2023 at 7:10 pm
A controversial Hamilton MPP says that she and her office were surprised that the Ontario NDP ousted her from the party caucus, which left them locked out of emails, calendars and databases used to communicate with and help constituents address urgent issues.
Independent Hamilton Centre MPP Sarah Jama said she and her office can no longer get in touch with many constituents as a result.
“We are working as hard as we can to transition our office, seeing as I am now sitting as an Independent MPP,” Jama wrote in a letter today (Oct. 24) that she sent to constituents. “We are committed to still supporting you with your needed casework, and are rebuilding new phone lines, a website, and ways to reach out.”
Jama told the community she would be hiring and rehiring staff.
She said until staff are hired, her office can only meet people by appointment and prefers to communicate through email.
On Oct. 20, Jama posted on social media that her office decided to work remotely and only accept in-person meetings by appointment to ensure the safety of staff.
“We’ve recently received a number of concerning calls and emails that have made us question the safety of remaining open for walk-ins,” she wrote.
Despite her censure by the Ontario government, she said in her recent letter to constituents that she was “excited to explore a new way forward” with the community.
Because she was censured, she said she can’t speak in the Legislative Assembly though she can still vote. “This does not mean that I cannot advocate around important issues to Hamilton Centre,” she wrote. “It just means things will look a little bit different.”
Joey Coleman, independent Hamilton journalist and publisher of thepublicrecord.ca, posted her letter on social media.
Jama’s controversial social media post on the Israel-Hamas war set off the series of events that led to her ejection from the Ontario NDP caucus and censure in legislature. It ignited backlash from many who accused her of being “anti-Semitic” and assailed her for initially failing to mention Hamas’s surprise massacre of civilians on Oct. 7 in Israel.
Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles had asked her to retract her comments. Although Jama apologized for the hurt she caused many Jews, she didn’t remove her original statement and instead pinned it as the top post on her X page, including her apology clarifying her remarks and condemning the attacks.
Jama received some support from Jewish and Muslim groups, her riding association and politicians.
Hamilton Centre MP Matthew Green called the decision to censure her “anti-democratic.”
“MPP Jama was democratically elected by our community to be our provincial representative, our advocate and to debate legislation that will impact Hamiltonians and all Ontarians,” Green wrote in a public statement on Oct. 23. “This egregious use of censure is a deliberate tactic to silence MPP Jama that has the practical effect of silencing the collective voice of more than 100,000 Hamiltonians who have a right to be heard at Queen’s Park.”
Ameil J. Joseph, associate professor with the School of Social Work at McMaster University, pointed out that Jama’s positions were well known from the start.
“Sarah Jama was elected, winning every single poll, for who she is, what she stands for, & how she does it. Every poll,” Joseph wrote on X. “Her positions were known then. The ONDP’s removal of Sarah from the party & shutting down of emails, websites, etc. is a direct affront to the democratic process.”
We’ve recently received a number of concerning calls and emails that have made us question the safety of remaining open for walk-ins and have decided to work remotely and only accept in-person meetings by appointment to ensure the safety of staff. 1/ pic.twitter.com/bISmHAzplu
— Sarah Jama (she/her) (@SarahJama_) October 20, 2023
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Statement from MP Matthew Green on the Anti-democratic Motion of Censure Against MPP Sarah Jama and the challenges that Palestinian Canadians face when advocating for their existence, statehood, and human rights. pic.twitter.com/QscXye5lNa
— Matthew Green 🍊📈✊🏾 (@MatthewGreenNDP) October 23, 2023