cbc.ca (© Copyright: (C) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.cbc.ca/aboutcbc/discover/termsofuse.html#Rss)
Updated: Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:14:21 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

John Baird, Marc Garneau to attend Israel support rally in Ottawa



Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird holds a media availability in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, May 26, 2014. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird holds a media availability in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, May 26, 2014. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

In what is being billed by organizers as a "sign of unity," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau will share the stage tonight at an Ottawa rally in support of the people of Israel.

The event comes just one day after Hamas rejected an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel.

In response, Israel resumed its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, which it launched in response to rocket attacks from the Palestinian territories earlier this month. Officials in Gaza say 207 Palestinians have died since the military action began, and an Israeli was killed by a rocket this week.

In a press release announcing the rally, Ottawa Jewish Federation president Andrea Freedman noted that the Jewish community "needs to show the innocent civilians of Israel … that we stand side by side with Israel, and declare our unwavering support."

"We also need to show our appreciation and respect for the principled stand our Canadian government continues to demonstrate on Israel's behalf," she wrote.

Representatives from "all three federal political parties" were invited to the event, according to Martin Sampson, communications director with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which is co-hosting the event.

"We are delighted that [Baird] and [Garneau] are able to join us," he told CBC News.

"Their presence and their support are appreciated by the Jewish community."

Pause in partisan rhetoric?

The recent escalation of hostilities in the region has sparked some heated rhetoric among Canada's political parties over their positions on the conflict.

This week, Baird criticized the Liberals for taking a week to condemn Hamas for its attacks on Israel.

On Tuesday evening, the Conservative Party sent out an email to supporters that cited a recent Facebook comment posted by former Liberal MP and upcoming federal election candidate Omar Alghabra that, they said, "called Israel's self-defence measures 'blind and cruel.'"

"We are urging [Liberal Leader] Justin Trudeau to condemn his remarks and demand an apology," the email said.

Alghabra, who later edited the Facebook comment, said he was expressing sympathy for victims of the conflict on all sides.

But it appears Baird is prepared to put the partisan rhetoric on pause for the night.

"I'm very pleased that Marc Garneau … is going to be there to show his support as well," Baird told a local Ottawa radio station on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Garneau told CBC News that he's speaking at the event because the Jewish community has asked him to do so.

"I will show my support — and that of my party — for the people of Israel," he said.

The New Democrats are not sending an official representative to the event.

According to Sampson, the party's response to the invitation "indicated a scheduling conflict," and an NDP spokesman confirmed with CBC News no MPs were available to attend.

more video