Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Nothing for Gaza Strip

The Gazette (Montreal)
Sun 20 Jan 2008
Page: A14
Section: Editorial / Op-Ed

The recent controversy over Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier’s statements regarding Israeli settlements misses important realities of Gaza. The reality is Canada has offered little to Palestinians in the way of humanitarian assistance.

People in Gaza live in what the United Nations Relief Works Agency refers to "a prolonged and persistent socio-economic crisis." Its 1.5 million residents are frequently without water, electricity or fuel. They desperately need emergency assistance for the basics of life: food, shelter and health care. Bernier chose not to address this in his recent visit.

Similarly, minister responsible for International Development, Bev Oda, had little to say about Gaza. She was in Peru and Colombia, in keeping with Canada’s focus on the Americas.

Canada has pledged $300 million over five years for security and governance reform, but this does not address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. For example, an absence of basic medical supplies, electricity and water has devastated the Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical complex.

Canada’s failure to address the basic needs of those living in Gaza will result in further needless deaths. Ottawa must lead an international effort to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of those trapped in the Gaza Strip.

Keith Martin, MP

Official Opposition Critic for International Development