Canada BC minister resigns after anti-Palestine remarks

Canada’s BC Minister for Post-Secondary Education, Selina Robinson, resigns amid a controversy sparked by her insensitive remarks after claiming Palestine was a ‘crappy piece of land with nothing in it’ before Israeli occupation.

  • Selina Robinson, the Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills of British Columbia, Canada, making anti-Palestine remarks during a Zoom talk on January 30, 2024. (Social media)

Controversy has erupted in British Columbia and throughout Canada surrounding recent remarks made by the New Democratic Party’s BC Minister for Post-Secondary Education, Selina Robinson, and her troubling history of racial insensitivity. Robinson was already embroiled in a contentious situation due to her involvement in the dismissal of college instructor Dr. Natalie Knight, who had been on leave since early November for expressing pro-Palestinian views at a rally.

However, Robinson’s comments at a B’nai Brith forum last week escalated the controversy when a video clip of her went viral. In the video, she characterized Palestine as “a crappy piece of land with nothing on it” until the arrival of Zionist colonization. This prompted a swift response from activists, across Canada, who demanded her resignation.

Vocal anti-Palestinian since October 7

Calls for Robinson’s resignation or termination have gained momentum since then, with multiple petitions amassing thousands of signatures. Demonstrators gathered at a BC government retreat on February 5, despite Robinson having issued two apologies in an attempt to mitigate the damage, with her latest promising “anti-Islamophobia training.” However, the Canada Palestine Association (CPA) underscored in a report that many Canadians remained skeptical, viewing such apologies as mere attempts for damage control.

The CPA then noted that “the pernicious and systemic anti-Palestinian behavior of Selina Robinson had been well-documented; she was vocal for the last 4 months in sharing the Zionist narrative that dehumanizes Palestinians in Gaza and enables their genocide,” adding that “this is not the first instance of Robinson demonizing indigenous people.”

In a flashback to 2022, the Association reminded that Robinson commented on indigenous people negatively during the Wet’suwet’en protests, alleging that protestors’ “violent” words made her feel “unsafe”.

In 2024, Indigenous people were also outraged with Robinson’s glorification of settler colonialist ideals, the CPA said, stressing that this was especially clear “when she alleged that Palestine had ‘nothing on it’ before the Zionist colonization made it thrive,” adding, “This is exactly what settler colonialism espouses everywhere: nothing is of value until the (white) settlers come and civilize it!”

While Robinson’s resignation from her Cabinet position reflects widespread support for Palestine, the Association underscored that she is not the sole Canadian politician backing the Israeli occupation. According to the CPA “She may have been more outspoken and explicit in her anti-Palestinian sentiments, but her views mirror a troubling trend in Canada’s political landscape.”

CPA: Repressive practices surge amid Gaza genocide

In a press statement, earlier in January of this year, the Canada Palestine Association revealed that in recent months, the country has witnessed a surge in anti-Palestinian repression, with concerns raised about politicians and municipal police forces displaying racist behavior. Major cities across the country, from Vancouver to Ottawa, Calgary, and Toronto, have reported increased instances of “police harassment of pro-Palestine events.”

Activists confronted repressive practices, and vowed to continue their struggle in the face of “Israel’s genocide.” Meanwhile, at the University of British Columbia (UBC), controversy brews as Israeli occupation soldiers “who have been part of the daily murder of Palestinians” offer their “insights from the ground” during events on campus.

According to the press release the Vancouver city council which was elected in 2022 also came under scrutiny for being “blatantly pro-Israel” and adopting the controversial IHRA definition, which redefines anti-Semitism as criticism of “Israel”, including anti-Zionism, as one of their first orders of business. This support from the council was followed by increased police hostility at Palestinian solidarity events.

According to the Canada Palestine Association, it is significant to note “the dominant Zionist and Western narrative” which categorized the “Israeli genocide” as the “Israel-Hamas war”, and then “seamlessly and erroneously transitioning into how this has fueled ‘hate crimes’ and ‘anti-Semitism’.”

The press release also revealed that similar anti-Palestinian repression has been reported in Ottawa and Toronto, including fines for using megaphones, bans on specific protests, and charges of “public incitement of hatred.” In Calgary, on the other hand, it went so far that an activist initially faced a “hate motivation” charge said the Association.

Read more: Nicaragua taking Germany, Canada, UK, Netherlands to ICJ for genocide

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