NDP District Association Kitchener Centre calls on party leader Marit Stiles to resign after Sarah Jama is ousted

NDP District Association Kitchener Centre calls on party leader Marit Stiles to resign after Sarah Jama is ousted
NDP District Association Kitchener Centre calls on party leader Marit Stiles to resign after Sarah Jama is ousted

The Kitchener Centre NDP Electoral Association has called on Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles to resign, a move criticized by the local candidate in a byelection that has yet to be called.

The equestrian association released a letter it said it sent to Stiles on Wednesday asking her to resign immediately, “due to her colossal failure to lead in an unprecedented time of war and the rise of fascism.”

It was released after Hamilton Centre MP Sarah Jama was expelled from the NDP caucus on Monday after she voiced support for the people of Gaza earlier this month as the war between Hamas and Israel, which began on October 7, continues.

Jama’s comments prompted Premier Doug Ford to call for the MPP’s resignation and accuse her of anti-Semitism.

Stiles said in a statement that while the group allows for differing viewpoints, some of Jama’s actions since she made her comments “have contributed to an unsafe work environment for staff.”

“Ms. Jama and I had reached an agreement to keep her in the NDP caucus, which meant that we would work together in good faith and without surprises. Our caucus and staff made significant efforts to support her during what was undoubtedly a difficult time,” Stiles said.

Sarah Jama is a member of the Provincial Parliament for Hamilton Centre.

Jama was expelled from the NDP faction this week. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

“Since then, she has taken a number of unilateral actions that have undermined our collective work and damaged the trust of her colleagues.”

Kitchener Centre Seating Currently Empty

A letter from the NDP District Association Kitchener Centre states that the group believes Stiles does not support Jama.

“Rather than support MPP Sarah Jama’s courageous leadership qualities and her principled stand in support of human rights, you decided to distance yourself from MPP Sarah Jama in what appears to be a short-term political trade-off,” the letter read.

The Kitchener Centre seat is vacant. Former MPP Laura Mae Lindo, who was a member of the NDP, resigned in July to take a new job at the University of Waterloo.

No date has yet been set for midterm elections.

The NDP candidate is Debbie Chapman, a current Kitchener city councillor. In an email, Chapman told CBC News she was “very disappointed” that the electoral association’s executive branch did not consult her when she wrote or published the letter.

“I am proud to be running to be the provincial voice for the people of Kitchener Centre, and to do so under the NDP — the only party that has taken a principled stand on the Israel-Palestine conflict. I stand with our leader,” Chapman wrote.

Stiles has not yet responded to CBC KW’s request for comment on the riding association’s letter.

Call for Leadership Assessment

The Kitchener Centre NDP Elections Association is not alone in condemning the way Stiles handled the situation with Jama.

The Hamilton Centre constituency association, which Jama represents, said in a statement that Jama’s removal from the party “is an attack on democracy, social justice and all activists who fight for the truth and human rights.”

The Hamilton Centre Equestrian Association called for a leadership review.

Jama apologized online for her comments the day after she made them.

This week, Jama was expelled from the party and reprimanded at Queen’s Park, meaning Speaker Ted Arnott is barred from speaking in the Ontario Legislature until she offers a verbal apology.

Jama said this week that she will continue to work for her constituents in Hamilton.