Tell Ministers Joly, Hussen, and Miller to Stop Genocide or Resign!

Canada has ignored repeated warnings from UN experts and the World Court on the risk of Israel committing genocide in Gaza, and Canada’s response to developments have even worsened the crisis. In particular, Ministers Joly, Hussen, and Miller have each mismanaged their ministerial portfolio:

  • Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly resisted calls for a ceasefire, refused to condemn Israel’s violence against Palestinians and ignored the World Courts finding of a “plausible” genocide in Gaza.
  • Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) on the very day that the World Court called for assurances of aid to Palestinians.
  • Minister of Immigration Marc Miller delayed a program of temporary visas for Gaza relatives of Canadians, and ultimately delivered a racist program with limited spots, and unreasonable application requirements for people in a war zone.

We cannot accept this to be Canada’s legacy amid the genocide unfolding before our eyes in Gaza. If these Ministers are not able to step up in this moment of extreme crisis and redress these errors, they should step aside.

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Despite the urgency of the unfolding genocide in Gaza, Ministers Joly, Hussen, and Miller have each announced decisions which reflect little regard for Palestinian life or international law, and have shown very little situational awareness concerning the impact of their decisions. By 1) transferring weapons into a genocidal context, and 2) knowingly withdrawing support for Gaza’s humanitarian infrastructure, the actions of Ministers Joly and Hussen directly violate the ICJ’s orders to prevent genocide. Meanwhile, Minister Miller has put up unnecessary barriers that complicate the ability of the loved ones of Canadians to flee a context of genocidal violence.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly

Minister Joly’s failure to respond to the ICJ’s initial ruling on the plausibility of genocide in Gaza demonstrates that Canada is not taking the catastrophic threat to human life seriously. Leading up to the decision, Joly expressed support for the court itself but refused to take a clear position on South Africa’s application, and even appeared to dismiss its “premise.” When asked to clarify her position, Joly responded to inquiries flippantly, as if she and the government purposely intended to be unclear. When the ICJ issued provisional measures ordering Israel to take measures to prevent genocide, Joly’s statement did not express support for the measures nor call upon Israel to comply with the ruling. Rather than recognizing the seriousness of the ICJ’s provisional ruling, her response implied that before taking action, Canada needed to wait until the ICJ’s “final” decision on genocide – something that could take years. This response reflected smug indifference to the killing of Palestinians on a massive scale. Ultimately, Joly’s silence on the ICJ’s orders suggests that Canada has abandoned its commitment to international law, as well as our obligations under the Genocide Convention vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Worse, the government has admitted that it has approved permits for arms exports to Israel since Oct. 7. As such, in her ministerial role, Joly has chosen not to exercise her prerogative to deny arms export permits to Israel during a plausibly genocidal campaign, thus enabling the transfer of military goods to Israel despite the clear risk that they will be used against Palestinian civilians. In a letter to Joly, more than 30 civil society organizations have warned that “Canada cannot at the same time signal support for the ICJ […] while continuing to arm those whom the ICJ has ruled are plausibly accused of genocide.”

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen

On the same day that the ICJ ruled that Israel must increase humanitarian access to Gaza to prevent genocide, Minister Hussen announced an indefinite suspension of humanitarian aid to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees. This reckless decision was a kneejerk reaction to unproven Israeli claims about a few of the agency’s employees, collectively punishing the 2 million people in Gaza (and four million other Palestinian refugees) who rely on the agency as a lifeline. Since Canada’s announcement, UNRWA now warns that its operations will collapse if its funding is not resumed, and UN bodies and humanitarian aid agencies warn of catastrophe because of this decision. While Minister Hussen subsequently increased humanitarian aid to other agencies, this redirection of funding ignores that UNRWA is the only organization currently with the capacity to deliver aid to Gaza at scale. Palestinians in Gaza are facing starvation and the emergence of epidemics of communicable disease, any damage to the remaining humanitarian infrastructure risks leading to mass deaths even after a ceasefire is obtained. Ultimately, in the absence of any claims of mismanagement on the part of UNRWA, Minister Hussen withdrew humanitarian funding to the agency overseeing aid to a population facing genocide. The apparent assumption that other agencies can within days both 1) recreate UNRWA’s on-the-ground presence in Gaza during a genocide and war, and 2) replicate UNRWA operations throughout the Middle East, are entirely out of touch with reality. Through Hussen’s decisions, Canada is defying the many warnings that cutting UNRWA’s funding will severely harm a population already facing famine, disease, and genocide.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller

Despite the massive early death toll of Palestinian civilians, it took Minister Miller over three months to launch a temporary visa program to help Palestinian-Canadian families reunite with loved ones in Gaza. Once opened for applications, the program was found to present huge unnecessary barriers and restrictions which limit its humanitarian potential. The visa program for Gaza is reportedly one of the most restrictive programs of its kind, with an arbitrary cap of 1,000 people causing panic and competition among Palestinian Canadians who are trying to get their loved ones out. Moreover, the application process requires unprecedented levels of personal information, imposing a tremendous and unreasonable burden on displaced people in a war zone. Making this worse, offensive remarks from Minister Miller and his colleagues indicated that these restrictions are motivated by a perception that the loved ones of Palestinian Canadians are an inherent security threat. Ultimately, Miller’s visa program fails to provide the aid and protections necessary to a population facing genocide who have relatives in Canada. The limitations built into this program, and the attitude of Miller and his colleagues have resulted in a program that is entirely out-of-touch with the realities of a genocide, causes unnecessary hardship, and reflects a clear double standard when compared with similar programs assisting other populations.

If these Ministers are not able to step up in this moment of extreme crisis and redress these errors, they should step aside. •

Use this form to demand that each of these ministers either take immediate action to stop genocide in Gaza, or resign. Your email will be sent to the three ministers and their associated teams. Also this form for organizational signatories and to sign on: Open Letter: Stop Genocide or Resign.