Sarah Jama speaking at a 2018 event in Hamilton. Credit: Joey Coleman

The governing Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is threatening to use their power as government to remove the ability of Hamilton Centre MPP Sarah Jama to speak in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

It is an unprecedented use of governing power by a political party which once wrapped itself in the mantle of free expression.

On Monday, the Government tabled a motion to censure Jama and remove her speaking rights in the Legislature.

It remains to be seen if the government puts the motion to a vote, or if they are merely using their governing power to generate continuing news coverage regarding Jama’s controversial statements regarding the war between Hamas and Israel.

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles directed Jama to remove the statement she posted to X (formerly Twitter). Jama declined to remove them.

She did post an apology below her original statement.

Stiles accepted this outcome.

A screen capture of Sarah Jama’s comments published on October 11 and 12, 2023, regarding the war between Hamas and Israel

Removing Representation in a Democracy

Members of Provincial Parliament are elected to be the voice of their constituencies. Silencing them is silencing the expression of the communities that elected them.

The Legislative Assembly has previously removed speaking rights from an elected MPP, but with the unanimous support of all other MPPs.

Randy Hillier was censured following a lengthy period of making racist and discriminatory to social media, posting misinformation and conspiracy theories, and violating public health orders during the pandemic.

Hillier was an extreme case. His behaviour was more extreme than anything a reasonable person could’ve expected when voters re-elected him in 2018.  His case is one of those exceptions to the rule.

Jama’s comments on the present war in Gaza between Hamas and Israel are consistent with her past statements.

The voters of Hamilton Centre elected Jama to represent them with full awareness of her political philosophy and activist practices.

Removing her speaking privileges in the Legislative Assembly undermines our democratic norms and processes.

Jama is free to issue political statements. The NDP caucus is free to act upon those statements. The public can judge both Jama and the NDP during the next election.

The Conservative motion to remove Jama’s speaking rights undermines free expression.

It is politics that further undermines our political system.

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Published: October 17, 2023
Last edited: October 17, 2023
Author: Joey Coleman
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5 replies on “COLEMAN: Free Expression, Sarah Jama, and the Government’s Motion to Remove Her from the Legislature”

  1. I appreciate your article, one of the better ones about this “matter”, referencing the ongoing Nakba in occupied Palestine, which is to say the current slaughter in Gaza in particular. I must deny that Ms. Jama’s comments are controversial, however, for anyone with even minimal awareness of the longterm situation. She is in fact understating its severity. Only the uninformed could doubt this. While the NDP continues to pander to the Zionists in its ranks, I prefer to listen to progressive Jews who know that Zionism is not to be equated with Judaism, but with the founding of a racist state, a violent colonial entity. …Palestinians as cockroaches…does this remind you of anything?

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