Mayor Marianna Alto has released an official statement on “conflict in the Middle East”, and has declined to comment on the conduct of Councillor Susan Kim, other than to say that she will speak for herself.
A petition is calling for the resignation of the Victoria councillor, who appears to have signed a letter which in part disputes claims of sexual violence committed against Israeli women during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
The council had a closed meeting this morning, and this afternoon, Alto released a statement saying: “The violence and destruction happening right now in Gaza is disturbing and heartbreaking. The harm that this is causing cannot be overstated.”
Alto added that the “outpour of islamophobia and antisemitism” in the community and across the country is “appalling.”
“Over the past weeks, I have met with members of the local Muslim and Jewish communities and heard about the violence and vitriol that have been directed towards them,” Alto continued.
“These reprehensible acts of hate have no place in Victoria. I want the local Jewish and Muslim communities, and all those who are affected by this hate, to know that Victoria will not tolerate this. I – we – value your presence in Victoria, and your contributions to our community. I implore every Victorian to treat all our community members with dignity, kindness and care.”
Alto said she joins “local government colleagues from around the nation to urge the Canadian Government to call for a ceasefire in Gaza,” as well as to support access to humanitarian aid and the release of all hostages.
When VictoriaNow reached out for a comment on the petition, a city spokesperson provided another statement from Alto saying “It is not my policy to comment on any of my council colleagues’ remarks, and I have no plan to change that now.”
“I expect – and will provide the opportunity for - Councillor Kim to speak for herself,” Alto said. “Voters choose their representatives, and have the final say on their longevity. My earlier statement speaks to the need for Victorians to reach out and comfort one another in response to the local pain arising from the current violence in the Middle East.”
The open letter that was signed by Kim and numerous others is no longer visible as of this afternoon.The councillor has yet to make a public statement regarding the matter.