Canadian FM has stern warning for flotilla participant

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird urges his citizens to stay out of next month's flotilla; calls for Hamas to release Gilad Schalit.

May 31, 2011 05:54
1 minute read.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird

John Baird 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had strong words on Monday for the group Canadian Boat to Gaza, which has announced plans to sail as part of a 12-boat flotilla attempting to breach the Gaza blockade next month.

"I strongly urge those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels," Baird said in a statement. Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza."

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Canadian Boat to Gaza participants said in response to Baird's statement that they would not change their plans.

"If Mr. Baird has any doubts about our mission or what we will carry, we invite him or any Canadian body to inspect the Canadian Boat to Gaza," organizer Wendy Goldsmith was quoted as saying in the Toronto Sun.

Baird's statement was director to a wider audience than just the flotilla participants. He also had strong words for the international community about his feelings on Hamas.

“Canada recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns and its right to protect itself and its residents from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by preventing the smuggling of weapons," he said. “I would note that Canada continues to call for the immediate return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for almost five years, to his family in Israel.”

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