Statement From MP Anthony Housefather

The motion passed by the House of Commons on March 18 was a blow not only to me but to many within the Jewish community.  It followed a wave of antisemitism across the world that over the last five months has left many Canadian Jews feeling bewildered and intimidated and fearful for their future in this country.

As a result of the motion being adopted and the way in which it happened, I have been in serious reflection about whether I should remain in the Liberal caucus.  I have heard from thousands of constituents and non-constituents and I know that my feelings are widely shared. They are shared by many Jewish Canadians who have previously voted Liberal, who have been particularly impacted by the events of the last five months. They are also shared by a number of non-Jewish Liberals.  The reason I have been so public about these reflections was to show everyone in a similar position to me that they were not alone and to gain valuable feedback from the residents of Mount Royal.  The seat belongs to me but they elected me to it.

I knew from the beginning that whatever decision I made would make many people unhappy.  I have heard from and spoken with thousands of people in my riding and also heard from Canadians across the country. I heard from people  who asked me to leave the Liberal caucus and cross the floor and others who have asked me to remain and be their voice in the Liberal caucus.  Despite the strong feelings on either side, I have been very gratified though that so many recognized how difficult the decision was for me and how many of my constituents pledged to support me regardless of the decision that I made.   

The adoption of the motion and all the events that preceded it have angered me as much as they angered most of the Jewish Canadians that I have communicated with.  But I also know that my core values remain Liberal ones and after serious reflection I believe my greatest value to Canadians is staying in caucus to advocate for the centrist classical Liberal Party that I believe in.  One that defends the Charter of Rights and stands up to provinces when needed, including when they use the notwithstanding clause pre-emptively to remove minority rights.  One that defends a truly bilingual Canada, where the rights of French speakers outside of Quebec and those of English speaking Quebecers are equally protected.  One that tackles antisemitism as strongly and seriously as it tackles other forms of hate.  One that spends within our means and recognizes that we need to get to a balanced budget. One that supports Canadian businesses. One that has a principled foreign policy that supports our western democratic allies like Israel and Ukraine and fights back against authoritarian states like Iran and its terrorist proxies. One that seeks to meet our NATO targets and invests in a strong military. One that ensures that core services are delivered to citizens in the most customer friendly and efficient way.  One that believes our country is the greatest place in the world to live and is unapologetic about it.   

We also have a massive problem of antisemitism right now in Canada.  There is no issue more important to the Jewish community at this time. This problem needs to be dealt with now.  I have had long and important conversations with the Prime Minister about this issue over the last couple of days and we have gone into extensive detail about the federal leadership and actions that need to be taken in the short term. We have discussed policing, safe zones between demonstrations and community buildings, university campuses, antisemitism education, the implementation of the IHRA definition and so much more.  The Prime Minister has asked me to work directly with him and the government in leading on addressing these critical matters.  I look forward to working hand in hand with Deborah Lyons and showing that we are taking concrete actions to make the Jewish community feel safe across Canada.

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