Skip to content

COMMENTARY: My motion supporting ceasefire should not have been controversial

Gaza war statement was at public's request, writes its author
Onlookers start chanting their objections Thursday night, Jan. 25, at Niagara Regional Council, prompting council to take a brief recess as the gallery was emptied.

I have spent the weekend exchanging emails and speaking with residents about the motion to support Israelis and Palestinians living in Niagara. An overwhelming amount of correspondence was positive, only a few messages from people voicing their opinion that this is not Regional business.

Municipal councillors receive emails and phone calls from residents regularly asking for support with items that aren’t within our mandate. We are often the first point of contact for everything and anything.

In this instance, all of council received dozens, if not hundreds of emails and phone calls from residents asking to provide our collective voice in support of a ceasefire and equitable interventions for anyone leaving the conflicts zones. That should not be controversial. Neither should lighting the Niagara Region's corporate headquarters in the colours of the Palestinian flag, just as we did for Ukraine and Israel.

I believe that we have a responsibility to amplify the voices of people living in Niagara

As a woman, a mother, and a grandchild of survivors of WWII, I am innately aware of the devastating effects this type of violence has on women and children. The sexual violence and gender-based atrocities on October 7 and since is alarming. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, have called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and immediate release of hostages, many of whom are women and girls.

As one of nine women on Regional Council, how can I ignore the rights of women and children in Israel and Palestine? Seventy percent of the fatalities to date are women and children; almost 1 million have been displaced, and there are approximately 50,000 women who are pregnant. Many of the people these statistics represent are friends and family members of Palestinian and Israeli-Canadians living in Niagara. They came to the Region to share their stories.

I believe that we have a responsibility to amplify the voices of people living in Niagara.

Haley Bateman is a Niagara Regional Councillor representing St. Catharines.