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British Columbia Premier David Eby says he has been humbled by the departure of a high-ranking New Democratic Party MLA over widening concerns of antisemitism within his caucus and the broader public service.

Mr. Eby promised to meet with a council of rabbinical leaders on Friday in a bid to repair a breach between his government and the province’s Jewish community. Former cabinet minister Selina Robinson announced Wednesday she was leaving the NDP government to sit as an Independent, saying some of her colleagues had expressed anti-Israel sentiments, while others refused to speak up to support the Jewish community.

“We’re going to be guided by the Jewish community about how we can address rising antisemitism in our province, how we can make them feel safe, and support them in this moment of increased hate,” the Premier told reporters on Thursday.

“It’s a humbling moment to know that I didn’t create the space for her to be able to bring that forward, and I’ll have to reflect on that.”

In the House, Kevin Falcon, leader of the Official Opposition, called on the Premier to commit to calling a full and independent inquiry into Ms. Robinson’s allegations of a culture within the NDP government that is tolerant of antisemitism.

“You did the right thing when you found out that there was systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples in the health care system. You ordered a full, independent inquiry. We now have numerous examples of antisemitism within your own cabinet and caucus and party. Will you do the right thing and call for an independent inquiry today?”

Mr. Eby sidestepped those calls. However, the province’s public-sector agency convened a meeting on Thursday of its human-resource managers and equity officers to review the concerns that had been raised about incidents within the public service, and to ensure there is a system in place to thoroughly investigate complaints.

A list of incidents was presented to the public-service agency in early February, a government spokesman confirmed, including a civil servant who allegedly was told not to wear a Star of David on a necklace to work, but the agency did not act because there were no official complaints.

Mr. Eby said Thursday he is “heartbroken” that Ms. Robinson has quit caucus. In her letter announcing her decision, Ms. Robinson described how some of her colleagues swept aside the events of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people, and instead asked for expressions of support for Palestine. More troubling, she wrote, was how others simply remained silent.

“As a government we have not been standing up to antisemitism,” she wrote in a letter to her former caucus colleagues.

Ms. Robinson, who served as minister in the finance and postsecondary portfolios, was forced to resign from cabinet in early February over remarks she made during a forum where she said that Israel was founded on “a crappy piece of land.” Mr. Eby said Ms. Robinson needed to leave cabinet to commit her time to repairing the hurt caused by her comments to Muslim and First Nations communities.

On Thursday, the Premier said he regretted that he hadn’t heard Ms. Robinson’s concerns, but at the same time, he dismissed her allegations.

“I disagree with Selina’s characterization of a number of my colleagues in this letter who fight every day to fight racism and discrimination,” Mr. Eby told reporters.

NDP MLA Mable Elmore, who was named by Ms. Robinson as one of the MLAs who had expressed antisemitic sentiments, told reporters her “heart was broken” by the Oct. 7 attacks and that she had joined a vigil for those killed by Hamas.

George Heyman, who serves as B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said that as a non-practising Jew, he has not experienced antisemitism in the NDP caucus.

Nico Slobinsky, a spokesperson for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, described the Friday meeting between Jewish community leaders and Mr. Eby as a pivotal moment for the NDP government.

“The allegations of antisemitism from Selina Robinson are deeply concerning and troubling for our community, but frankly they should be concerning for all British Columbians,” he said in an interview. “We believe that the Premier needs to lean in more.”

“There is an undercurrent – it’s not unique to the BC NDP, but among progressives – of this anti-Isreal sentiment,” Ms. Robinson said in an interview. “I reached out to my colleagues and asked them to stand up against it and they haven’t. They are choosing to be silent, and they are not living up to their values.”

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