Last week, the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) voted down a ceasefire motion presented by South Shore Ceasefire Now (SSCN) and put forward by councillor Kacy DeLong, citing “no real ties to this conflict”. Send an email to let MODL know that the South Shore wants a ceasefire now! 

At least 33,843 Palestinians have been killed and 76,575 wounded in Israel’s war on Gaza, now in its seventh month. In January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Israel’s acts could amount to a “plausible” genocide. Since then, Israel has failed to comply with at least one of the world court’s legally binding orders that would protect Palestinians from genocide, by obstructing the provision of aid and basic services. Israeli restrictions on food aid entering Gaza may also amount to the war crime of deliberate starvation. 

After SSCN’s successful presentation to Bridgewater Town Council, Mayor David Mitchell issued a statement in support of the Canadian government’s call for “sustainable ceasefire”: “the Town of Bridgewater’s position is that wherever there is conflict, we want peace and an end to needless loss of life and human suffering”. Mayor Mitchell went on to say that Bridgewater “supports the position of our federal government and hopes that peace, a lasting cessation of fighting along with the delivery of aid to the region materialises quickly”. SSCN then took their motion to MODL. 

The Motion

On Tuesday, March 5, SSCN presented a motion asking MODL to: 

Voting on the motion was delayed, with councillor DeLong explaining that time was needed to amend the wording to make it more “palatable” to council. On Wednesday, April 9, DeLong put forward a weakened motion in two parts:

Motion 1: That the municipal council pass a resolution in support of the Canadian government as it works towards its goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the middle east. And it’s support of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. 

Motion 2:  That the municipal council provide a donation of $10,000 to the Canadian Red Cross for aid in relief efforts for Palestine.

In her preamble, DeLong admitted to being “somewhat conflicted on it” herself. She acknowledged that the issues brought forward in the motion directly affect MODL residents, making it reasonable for MODL to take a stance, while at the same time stating that “we are a council that sits in a small municipality in North America, with no real ties to this conflict”. This inconsistency set the tone of the debate that followed. 

Two sides emerged: with Councillors on one side feeling that it was not their job to take a position on international affairs, and others feeling that a resolution in support of ending war could not be a bad thing.

We need to keep politics out of municipal government. 

- Councillor Martin Bell

Residents feel like “it is none of my business”.

- Councillor Oickle 

This is not a municipal issue and we cannot get involved in this. We have supported hurricanes and other things from a humanitarian relief perspective, but it wasn’t taking a side…

- Mayor Bolivar-Getson

The Vote

The ceasefire motion was defeated 7 to 4, with councillors Haysome, DeLong, Moore, and Greek voting in favour, and Councillors Statton, Veinotte, Whynot, Bell, Oickle, Hubley, and Mayor Bolivar-Getson voting against. 

Justifications provided by the council varied. Councillor Martin Bell argued that it was not within MODLs jurisdiction, going so far as to say “we need to keep politics out of municipal government”. While councillor Haysome stated that “any opportunity to speak out against war and injustice is one that we should take”, noting that she doesn’t watch the news anymore because it is “inconceivable what I see”.

The second motion on the monetary donation was also defeated. Mayor Bolivar-Getson argued that to make a donation in support of humanitarian efforts in Gaza amounted to taking sides, and for that reason MODL “cannot get involved in this”. It is important to note here that all of the councillors who voted against a donation voted unanimously in favour of donating money in support of Ukraine in 2022. As councillor DeLong noted, the motion to support the relief efforts in Ukraine was put forward by the mayor herself, adding “to me that set a precedent”. 

SSCN Response 

We reject the reasoning that calling for a ceasefire in Gaza is not a municipal issue. Rising anti-Palestinian racism, Islamophobia and anti-semitism, are local issues that have been heightened during this international crisis. MODL’s vote is a missed opportunity to not address this, especially given its commitment to the cross municipality anti-racism task force.

We reject the implication that aid in support of Ukraine is considered humanitarian while aid in support of Palestine is deemed political. We call on MODL to explain why a $10,000 donation in support of the Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal, put forward by Mayor Bolivar-Getson herself, received unanimous support while the same donation in support of humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza was strongly opposed. 

We stand with the people of Palestine and call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. We believe that our leaders at all levels of government have a moral duty to speak out against injustice, listen to their constituents, and act on their concerns. 

We are progressive voters and we want progressive candidates that are willing to take a hard look at racism and discrimination in our community, and take the necessary steps to ensure that our community is just, safe and welcoming for all. 

Have Your Say

Use the button below to send an email to MODL. Let your councillors know that you do not feel represented by this vote, and urge them to consider how their local responses to global situations sends a message about who they do and do not value as residents. Here is a link to all the district Councillors contacts if you'd like to use our email message to email them directly.