Monday’s session in the Saskatchewan legislature was interrupted by protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
“Hopefully this shows our governments what we want, because if governments are for the people, why aren’t they listening to the people?” said protester Tayyaba Farooq.
Following a rally Monday at 1 p.m. CST outside the legislature in Regina, several dozen people entered the public gallery. Partway through question period, they began to chant, “Ceasefire Now” and “Free Palestine.”
The speaker asked them to be seated and comply with the legislature rules, which prohibit gallery members from speaking. The group continued.
Saskatchewan Party government MLAs then stood and walked out of the chamber. NDP MLAs, who have supported the calls for a ceasefire, eventually left as well.
Security officials asked the protesters to leave and they did.
At some point Monday, someone draped a small banner featuring a Palestinian flag on a pole flying the Israeli flag, hung in the legislature following the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7.
“The Israel flag in the middle, how is that not provocative?” Farooq said. “If you want to have peaceful protests and to remain neutral, then you practise the same thing that you preach to us. Well, how are we supposed to walk in there and not feel provoked and not feel like there’s already a bias as we’re walking in there?”
Another protester, Mohammad Abushar, said he will never forget seeing provincial government MLAs walk out of the legislature.
“We will remember that every single time they come to ask for our votes,” he said.
The Saskatchewan government declined to comments on the protests Monday. On Oct. 10, Premier Scott Moe announced his government would send $100,000 to Israel in emergency aid following the attack by Hamas.
Last week, the government said it continues to support Israel’s right to defend itself.
The University of Saskatchewan’s Muslim Student Association organized a similar rally Monday in Saskatoon. Roughly 50 people gathered in the U of S bowl area to call for a ceasefire.
“The Palestinian population in Gaza is defenceless. There is no need for them to suffer,” said U of S veterinary college faculty member Ahmad Al-Dissi. “Events like this raise awareness and put pressure on politicians to act, and stop this madness.”
Those opposed to the ceasefire include U.S. President Joe Biden.
“As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a ceasefire is not peace,” Biden stated in a Washington Post article. “To Hamas’s members, every ceasefire is time they exploit to rebuild their stockpile of rockets, reposition fighters, and restart the killing by attacking innocents again.”