‘Bring the temperature down:’ Minister clashes at campus protests – National

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After several arrests during a pro-Palestinian campus protest, Kamal Khera, Canada’s minister of diversity, inclusion and persons with disabilities, says it is time “to lower the temperature in this country.”

“As a government, we will always protect the Charter of Rights, freedom of expression and peaceful protest and assembly. But that should not go too far,” Khera told Mercedes Stephenson in an interview The Western Bloc.

Jewish students held a press conference on Parliament Hill last Wednesday and testified before a House of Commons committee that post-secondary institutions are failing to protect them from anti-Semitism.

Click to play video: 'Pro-Palestinian protests intensify on US college campuses'

Pro-Palestinian protests are increasing on American college campuses

Meanwhile, pro-Palestinian demonstrators – protesting Israel’s offensive in Gaza – are accusing universities of suppressing freedom of expression.

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As the conflict rages, encampments have sprung up on campuses from British Columbia to Newfoundland, where students are demanding that their universities cut ties with Israeli companies and institutions.

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On Thursday, police in riot gear arrested several protesters at the University of Calgary, less than a day after the encampment moved up.

Click to play video: 'MP Anthony Housefather appointed as point of contact in the fight against anti-Semitism'

MP Anthony Housefather appointed as point of contact in the fight against anti-Semitism

University President Ed McCauley said the protesters were given a warning but refused to leave.

A video posted on social media showed officers tearing down makeshift barriers and clashing with protesters.

“Unfortunately, counter-protesters showed up – also placing themselves in violation of our policies and in a trespassing situation,” McCauley said in a statement.

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“The situation quickly turned into pushing, throwing projectiles at officers and – eventually – flash bangs and arrests.”

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When it comes to the nationwide protests, Khera says that “local authorities are very much involved in their jurisdiction in this matter” and it is up to them to decide how to respond.

“As a government, we will always protect the Charter of Rights,” she added.

But Alberta Premier Danielle Smith took a sharper stance, saying universities are on private property and school administration must ensure the situation does not get out of hand.

“I am pleased that the University of Calgary has made the decision,” Smith said at a news conference in Calgary on Friday.

Smith made her comments on the same day that Canada abstained from a United Nations vote aimed at formally recognizing Palestinian statehood.

The UN General Assembly voted by a wide margin in favor of granting new “rights and privileges” to the Palestinians and called on the Security Council to reconsider its request to become the 194th member of the United Nations.

The vote reflected growing support for full Palestinian membership of the United Nations, with many countries expressing outrage over the rising death toll in Gaza.

Israeli forces are pushing deeper into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, in an operation that Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly called “unacceptable.” Joly warned that the offensive will have catastrophic consequences for the 1.3 million Gazans trapped in Rafah.

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More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed during the conflict, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, 2023 killed 1,200 people. Another 250 were taken hostage.

with files from the Canadian and Associated Press

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