A group of Canadian MPs arrived in Jerusalem Monday for a quietly planned visit meant to show solidarity with Israel.
The five MPs — two Liberals and three Conservatives — are part of a larger delegation of around 60 people that also includes Canadian Jewish leaders. They plan to meet with some of their Israeli counterparts and pay tribute to the victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.
According to an itinerary of the trip shared with CBC News, the delegation will “learn about the trauma and toll of the Hamas invasion” and “experience the resolve, bravery and social responsibility of the Israeli people.”
Another of the “mission objectives” is for the group to “participate in repair and rebuilding activities” and “explore the crucial role of philanthropy in rebuilding and restoring Israel.”
The group will be on the ground for several days and during that time they are scheduled to meet with survivors and with the “heroes of Kfar Aza,” a kibbutz near the Gaza border that saw members killed on Oct. 7 by Hamas, a group designated a terrorist organization by the Canadian government.
In a phone interview with CBC News, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather said the goal of the visit is to give MPs a better understanding of what happened on Oct. 7 and what the Israeli government’s plans are, to meet with the families of hostages and to demand their immediate release.
“I want to make sure that it is clear to Israelis that Canadians support them,” said Anthony Housefather, who is Jewish.
The Conservative MPs on the trip are deputy leader Melissa Lantsman and Marty Morantz, who are both also Jewish, and Michelle Rempel Garner. Marco Mendicino is the other Liberal MP there.
‘It’s important that we show solidarity’: Lantsman
The visit was planned before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call for Israel to take great care to avoid civilian casualties in its war against Hamas.
“I wouldn’t have used the language the prime minister has used,” Housefather said. “I wouldn’t have used the tone that he used.”
Lantsman said she would like to see Trudeau present a more consistent position that supports Israel’s “right and obligation” to defend itself.
“I think it’s important that we show solidarity with the people of Israel for what happened on Oct. 7, for their resolve going forward, for the eventuality of rebuilding, and for the rest of the world, including those in Canada, to never forget this,” Lantsman said Monday.
Watch: Canadian MPs visit Israel in show of solidarity:
Featured VideoA Canadian delegation that includes two Liberal MPs and three Conservative MPs landed in Jerusalem Monday and met with Israeli officials and families of victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.
The Conservative deputy leader said the group has met with academics and former Israeli Defence Force members to discuss how to restore security for both Israelis and the people of Gaza.
Rempel Garner said Monday that it is important for Canadian parliamentarians to bear witness to the Hamas attacks because there are stories that need to be told.
Remple Garner said she’s participating in the trip to bear witness to what happened on Oct. 7 and said she hopes it’s an issue that transcends partisanship.
“I think the humanity of the situation for me, writ large, underscores the enormity of the Hamas attack, the countless lives that it has impacted, and the need for the global community to condemn those attacks and to ensure that there is some way forward that doesn’t involve that type of violence,” she said.
High-level diplomatic tension
Last Tuesday, at an event in British Columbia, Trudeau called on “the government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint” in its military operations in Gaza.
“The killing of women, and children, of babies — this has to stop.”
Netanyahu rebuked Trudeau on social media not long after.
“It is not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust.” he wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“While Israel is doing everything to keep civilians out of harm’s way, Hamas is doing everything to keep them in harm’s way,” Netanyahu added.
The death toll of the conflict continues to climb. Israel says around 1,200 people were killed during Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, while around 240 people remain as hostages taken during that assault. Israel’s subsequent campaign of airstrikes and ground operation in Gaza have killed more than 12,300 people, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry.
When asked whether he’s concerned about possible blowback over Trudeau’s comments, Housefather said his response will be to explain “how supportive the prime minister has actually been on Israel since 2015” when Trudeau was first elected.
Housefather cited Canada’s voting record at the UN as proof of the Trudeau government’s support for Israel.
“People are trying to read too much into one statement, versus an overall government approach,” he said. “When I explain that to Israelis, I think that will definitely help Israelis understand that Canada is with them as an ally.”