PMO knew and said nothing

For more than a month, the Prime Minister’s Office was aware that the government’s anti-racism action program had provided funding to Laith Marouf, failing to issue any public statement until pressured to do so. That is the latest revelation in a story that merits far more investigation than it currently is receiving.

For well over a year, I have been sounding an alarm over public funding of a purveyor of antisemitic social media messaging. For details, please see “Feeding at the funding trough”, a blog post I wrote in late August.

It all started with my observations about Canada’s telecommunications regulator awarding “costs” with the Commission failing to follow its own public processes, in stark conflict with last week’s statement issued by the CRTC’s Chair. I continued to sound the alarm after Canada’s Heritage Department awarded a contract, ironically as part of the Ministry’s anti-racism action program.

I directly approached a Liberal MP in mid-July with information about my concerns. As the Globe and Mail has now reported, this information reached the Prime Minister’s office nearly immediately. However, it wasn’t until a month later, after social media amplified the story, that there was any official government reaction. It took another week until the Prime Minister addressed the issue.

As Michael Geist wrote on his blog, “I can’t shake the reality that the Minister knew for a month. The Prime Minister’s Office knew for a month. And they did nothing.”

It calls to mind the message from MP Rob Oliphant on the lesson he learned from his father admonishing him for ignoring acts of antisemitism. He protested saying that he didn’t do it. His father responded, “It doesn’t matter. You overheard it, and you didn’t counter it.”

It simply isn’t credible that its delay in responding was because the government needed to consult with lawyers to look at how it could unwind the arrangements. Lawyers weren’t required to look at the “vile” tweets and come out with a statement.

Looking at the initial statement issued by the Minister of Diversity and Housing, it is clear that the lawyers had not yet completed their examination.

So why the delay?

They knew for a month and they did nothing.

This statement could have been released immediately after learning about the issue. It should have been released by the PMO in mid-July.

It took another day for the Minister’s lawyer’s to have a “resolution”.

We are left wondering why the government was remaining silent for a month. Were the political strategists hoping that the matter would simply fade away on its own?

The fallout from the funding of an antisemitic hate-monger is far from over.

  • The parliamentary Heritage Committee needs to continue its examination of the matter to explore the complete timeline and ensure accountability for this shameful episode.
  • The CRTC needs to carefully examine why it failed to conduct a public process in the case of awarding costs, in conflict with its own standards and procedures. If appropriate, it should review its cost award decisions on its own motion to correct its error.
  • The Broadcasting Participation Fund needs to operate with increased transparency.

In order to bookmark reference articles about the affair, I will try to keep this bibliography up to date:

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