Gary’s Hypocrisy and Political Cowardice

Did MP Anandasangaree speak out when his government was selling weapons to Saudi Araba while they were conducting a brutal assault on Yemen—the poorest nation in the region?

4 mins read
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree [File Photo]

There are striking parallels between Israel’s offensive on Gaza starting October 7th, 2023, and the Sri Lankan government’s actions in the final stages of the war, where shelling by the government led to the loss of thousands of civilians in their bid to defeat the LTTE. According to Human Rights Watch, during the final stages of the war, “the Sri Lankan armed forces indiscriminately shelled densely populated areas, including hospitals, in violation of the laws of war.” This mirrors exactly what Israel has been doing in its latest offensive on Gaza.  

MP Gary Anandasangaree has rightly condemned the Sri Lankan government’s war crimes, and successfully led efforts for Canada to sanction former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for credible war crimes allegations. However, questions arise about Anandasangaree’s human rights commitment given his silence on Israel’s recent Gaza offensive, which mirrors Sri Lanka’s actions in 2009.

While Israel has been escalating its offensive in Gaza, the Canadian government has ramped up arms sales. Since the October 7th offensive, Canada has authorized over $28 million in exports of military goods and technology to Israel. Such arms sales are in violation of Canada’s own domestic arms control laws as well as in violation of international law, both of which prohibits a country from selling arms to any nation likely to use those arms to engage in human rights violations.

Trudeau has also come under scrutiny for cutting off aid to UNRWA—the United Nations relief organization for Palestinian refugees—which serves as a vital lifeline for Palestinians in Gaza. This decision came amidst unsubstantiated reports from Israeli officials accusing a dozen UNRWA employees of having affiliations with Hamas forces.

While Trudeau is providing arms to Israel during its heinous offensive against the Palestinians and cutting the most vital aid source to help besieged Gazans, Gary Anandasangaree supports it all through his cowardly silence.

MP Anandansagaree’s constituency in his riding consists of a significant portion of Sri Lankan Tamil Canadians who know all too well about the international community’s silence while their brothers and sisters in the North were being shelled and bombed relentlessly, despite assurances from the government of designated safe zones. As a result of MP Anandasangaree’s silence when the same atrocities are being committed against Gazans, he has now lost his legitimacy to be outspoken about human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan government during the final stages of the war.  Furthermore, his Sri Lankan Tamil constituents should now think twice about re-electing somebody who remains relatively silent while a similar atrocity to theirs is happening to another people.

MP Anandasangaree would respond that he did issue a statement in response to the October 7th attacks. MP Anandasangaree put out a tweet with a statement where he reiterated his support for a two-state solution while condemning Hamas’ attack on Israel. Yet MP Anandasangaree’s tweet did not express condemnation of the indiscriminate attacks being carried out by Israel on the densely populated area of Gaza. MP Anandasangaree has never once made a speech in Parliament condemning Israel’s indiscriminate assault, nor has he, in weeks following the October 7th attacks, made a speech calling for his government to support a ceasefire. MP Anandasangaree has repeatedly played it safe and said practically nothing at all in condemnation of the West’s role in fueling this Israeli atrocity.

However, there is some private dissent within the Liberal Party. It has been revealed that in a private call with a constituent, a key Liberal Member of Parliament, Rob Oliphant, recently condemned his own party’s policy on the Gazan war.  MP Anandasangaree could take it a step further and publicly do the same, but he won’t.

To answer the pertinent question as to why MP Anandasangaree has chosen to remain silent in calling for Trudeau to end arms sales to Israel, or in calling for Canada to resume aid to UNRWA, or in calling for Canada to impose sanctions against Israel—the answer is obvious. MP Anandasangaree values the political perks that he receives as a member of the Liberal Party more than he values ending the bloodshed inflicted by Israel against Gazans with the support of the Trudeau government. In addition to being entitled to receive a lifelong government pension as a result of having successfully served as a Member of Parliament for six years, MP Anandasangaree, for his unwavering loyalty towards Trudeau’s policies, was awarded a cabinet ministerial position on July 23rd, 2023, as the Minister of Crown-Indigenous relations. This accomplishment makes MP Anandasangaree the first Sri Lankan-Tamil Canadian to hold a ministerial position at the federal level of government. If MP Anandasangaree chose to exercise his moral conscience and speak out against Trudeau’s heinous foreign policy, then he would lose his cabinet ministerial position and might not be endorsed by his party for re-election. As is the case with almost all politicians, MP Anandasangaree solely cares about his political survival and will seemingly do anything it takes to climb the upper echelons of the political ladder.

MP Gary Anandasangaree’s silence while Israel is decimating the Gazan people indicates he lacks the political courage and consciousness possessed by his father—an individual this writer has previously met and interviewed—to speak truth to power and take a stand when one’s own government is supporting atrocities in one’s name.

Fast forward several years from now—Gary Anandasangaree has retired from politics after serving for several decades. He is now vacationing at his cottage which overlooks Lake Muskoka with his family, living comfortably on his lifetime government pension. What would MP Anandasangaree have to show for his decades long career in politics?

Did MP Anandasangaree speak out when his government was selling weapons to Saudi Araba while they were conducting a brutal assault on Yemen—the poorest nation in the region? No. Did MP Anandasangaree speak out when his government was allowing Canadian mining companies to commit horrendous atrocities such as displacing and raping villagers and polluting ecosystems in the Global South? No. Did MP Anandasangaree speak out in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to call for a diplomatic solution to end the war as countless number of Ukrainians died? No. Did MP Anandasangaree condemn his own government for supplying weapons to Ukraine and thereby continue to exacerbate this US-led proxy war?  No.  Did MP Anandasangaree condemn his government’s decision to terminate aid to UNRWA as Gaza is on the brink of famine, while his government continued to arm Israel in their assault on the besieged territory? No.  Did MP Anandasangaree successfully push the Canadian government to impose sanctions against human rights abusers within the Sri Lankan government while hypocritically being silent about the atrocities committed by the LTTE against the Tamil people? Yes!

So, what would MP Gary Anandasangaree have to show for his decades-long political service? A good track record of enriching the Canadian elite and weapons manufacturers at the expense of his complicity and that of his government’s in the bloodshed of innocent populations in various regions around the world. Well done, MP Gary Anandasangaree.

Pitasanna Shanmugathas

Pitasanna Shanmugathas is a documentary filmmaker and advocate for peace and disarmament. Inspired by progressive thinkers, he embarked on a three-year exploration of Canada's foreign policy while completing his post-graduate studies in global affairs at the University of Toronto.

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