The political fallout continues surrounding a Victoria councillor’s decision to sign a petition which called 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 Victoria Coun. Susan Kim casts doubt on the validity of the reports of sexual violence committed by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attacks.
The petition has since been deleted.
Now, Susan Kim’s response Monday night is being called into question.
“The apology from Susan Kim did not address the harm done. It had the weak sauce of ‘I’m sorry if you’ve been affected’, which is the worst way to make a political apology,” said David Black, communications professor at Royal Roads University.
Kim’s response isn’t the only one that’s receiving criticism. Victoria’s mayor Marianne Alto has also become a target.
On Monday, while calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in a press conference, Alto refused to comment on Kim’s actions. She was also asked if she believed there was any question whether people were raped during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
“I don’t have enough information to be able to answer that in an informed way,” said Alto. “I actually think that it would be irresponsible for me to comment on that without being more informed.”
Former Victoria councillor Stephen Andrew, who faced off against Alto for the mayor’s seat in the last election, critiqued Alto’s inability to respond to the “sexual assaults on Jewish people.”
I stayed away from criticism of @CityOfVictoria Mayor Marianne Alto after losing the election.
However – following her statement about Councillor Susan Kim’s actions to clearly question the sexual assaults on Jewish people & then mind bogglingly try to say she didn’t say… pic.twitter.com/efMBwdwh13
— Stephen Andrew (@Stephen_Andrew) November 21, 2023
CHEK News reached out to Alto Tuesday to give her a chance to clarify. She declined.
Black says Alto’s words Monday disappointed, and lacked important context.
“It felt rushed and defensive,” said Black. “It spoke elusively to what’s happening in Gaza without pulling out and saying what’s happening in Gaza is largely to do with what happened on October 7.”
Black, however, calls all this political kerfuffle a teachable moment.
“The letter Kim signed was the wrong way to address a polarizing and divisive issue that requires enormous sensitivity with enormous historical depth,” said Black.
Black says real change should not be in future public statements seeking to clarify, but changes made to the municipality’s code of conduct that take into account this event and potential future issues like this moving forward.