The leader of BC United has called for the resignation of a Victoria councillor who signed a letter that is the subject of scrutiny, adding to the now more than 8,000 who have signed a petition for the same.
Coun. Susan Kim is one of dozens who signed a letter calling for Canadian Members of Parliament to resign for being “complicit in Israel’s killing of over 5,000 Palestinians in Gaza.”
One section of the letter that has resulted in the calls for the resignation of the Victoria councillor, is one that casts doubt on the validity of the reports of sexual violence during the Oct. 7 attacks.
“Meanwhile Jagmeet Singh repeated the unverified accusation that Palestinians were guilty of sexual violence,” reads the letter.
Since a petition was created on Nov. 18, more than 8,000 people have signed calling for Kim to resign.
Now, Kevin Falcon, the leader of BC United, has issued a call for the same.
Denying the sexual violence experienced by victims of the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas is appalling. This is unacceptable behaviour from an elected official here in B.C.
— Kevin Falcon (@KevinFalcon) November 20, 2023
Anne Kang, B.C.’s minister of municipal affairs, says she hopes Kim comes forward with a statement and an apology.
“I believe in survivors, I believe in their first-hand accounts and it is absolutely wrong to deny that these accounts happened in this situation,” Kang said. “I believe it is important for Councillor Kim to come forward and provide some comments and, of course, apologize immediately.”
Kim releases statement
Around 5:30 p.m. Monday, Kim sent the following statement to CHEK News:
“Let me first begin by stating that I regret how this matter has polarized our community. That was never my intent.
“My principles demand that I continue to condemn any and all forms of hate and oppression, be it victim-blaming, genocide, racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia.
“I believe survivors of gender-based violence. I will always believe survivors of sexual assault. The use of sexual violence in war is undeniably among the worst facets of human history. My condemnation of all sexual violence is perpetual and unconditional.
“On the open letter signed by civil society, I agree that a ceasefire is a necessary next step in de-escalating the horrific conflict we’re seeing on the other side of the globe.
“To further clarify, that letter was not written by me. It is disappointing that international media did not reach out to verify the letter’s authorship.
“Venturing forward, I commit to being more attentive to community before adopting positions while I am a City Councillor. Aggravation and polarization of this beloved community is never my intention.
“My primary duty is to serve the city and its residents; I am sorry for how this matter has pulled me away from the work of this city. I will continue to serve out the rest of my term to the best of my abilities on behalf of those who entrusted me with this privilege.”
Local Rabbi hopes for dialogue with Kim
Rabbi Harry Brechner of the Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria says he doesn’t feel the need for Kim to be fired or resign.
“I’m concerned about this mini war that’s happening in social media, and I’m concerned that she made a statement she may be misguided, likely she is but then to have this sense of her needing to be fired or to do other things,” Brechner said.
“I would hope that everyone has the possibility of redemption and everybody can get second chances and that maybe this is a possibility for greater education, greater understanding.”
“My hope is that we can find solutions are going to bring greater peace and equality to both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Victoria councillors reaction
Heading into a closed council meeting on Nov. 20, a CHEK News reporter asked councillors for their reaction to the letter.
Couns. Dave Thompson and Jeremy Caradonna said they did not have a comment heading into the meeting.
Coun. Stephen Hammond says he is waiting to hear a response from Kim before commenting further.
“I’d be interested in knowing what she has to say just to make sure that she in fact did [sign the letter]… it’s easy to put someone’s name on something,” Hammond said. “And so I’d be interested to hear what she has to say.”
“I’d be interested in just hearing what she has to say, the truth. And then what she’s going to be doing, or what she’s interested in doing about it going forward.”
Hammond says he did not believe the letter would be discussed in the closed council meeting as it was not on the agenda.
On Threads, Caradonna similarly said he would be waiting to hear from Kim before commenting.
“I have encouraged her to release a statement clarifying her views and intent,” he said on Threads. “I won’t comment further until that occurs.”
Couns. Matt Dell, Krista Loughton, Marg Gardiner, and Mayor Marianne Alto were already in the council chambers and were not available to be asked for a response.
Coun. Chris Coleman and Kim were attending the meeting virtually.
In a news conference, Alto refrained from commenting on the situation saying she has a policy of not speaking on what her fellow council members say or do.
However, she says she has encouraged Kim to make a statement on the situation.
Ontario MPP removed from letter
Kim was one of two politicians whose names appeared on the letter. The other was an Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament Sarah Jama.
Jama’s executive assistant tells CHEK News the letter was sent to her team by a local Palestinian activist.
“The petition was sent to the team by a local Palestinian activist. Sarah’s name is no longer associated with the letter,” the statement says. “MPP Jama has signed a number of petitions calling for a ceasefire including the petition organized by the federal NDP.”
Despite saying Jama’s name is not associated with the letter, as of 10:30 a.m. PT, Jama’s name could still be seen on the letter.
With files from CHEK’s Oli Herrera