#CHPC reviews government funding of antisemitism

In late January, I noted that we have been waiting for months for Canada’s Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (CHPC) to follow-up on its October resolution: “That the officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage that were responsible for the funding of Laith Marouf be invited to appear before committee regarding the federal funding provided to the Community Media Advocacy Centre by the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Department officials’ handling of the situation”.

That day of reckoning finally took place on Monday (February 13). You can watch the entire 90-minute meeting on ParlVU. Using my November 1 blog post as a basis (What I Would Say At Heritage Committee), I submitted a brief to members of the Committee which had been distributed to them a few months ago. It is available on the CHPC website.

Michael Geist wrote a piece that I commend to you: “Apologies Without Accountability: Canadian Heritage Committee Seeks Answers on Government Funding an Anti-Semite”. Marie Woolf continued her strong coverage of the Laith Marouf affair in the Globe and Mail in a story headlined “Ottawa hires debt collectors to get grant back from Laith Marouf employer”.

To those who are critical of the government hiring outside debt-collectors, I observed on Twitter that the point isn’t to get money into the government treasury; it is to get the government money out of the hands of antisemites.

Yesterday, I put together a 6-part Twitter thread capturing some of my thoughts.

I have reproduced them here, with some concluding thoughts at the end.

Just before Monday’s CHPC meeting, the Globe and Mail broke the news that “Laith Marouf once barred from re-entering Canada, interviewed by CSIS”. That raises the question of how a foreign national that was barred from entering Canada in 2009 was able to obtain Canadian citizenship. I suppose that is a question for a different Parliamentary Committee to review at another time. I doubt that Canadians will emerge satisfied from that inquiry, if it ever takes place.

More than 6 months have passed since the Minister was advised of the issue by a sitting member of his own party; nearly a year has passed since the grant was awarded with the Minister appearing in a joint press release with Laith Marouf. Yet, not a single person has been held to account for failures by our government – indeed, these are failures by the very department that is charged with responsibility for developing and implementing an Anti Racism Strategy.

Was it ineptitude or indifference that motivated the inaction by officials at the senior-most levels of the Canadian Government when confronted with evidence of antisemitism by a recipient of Heritage Canada Anti Racism funding? There was inexcusable lethargy in the response that remains unexplained. A number of commentators have observed that antisemitism seems to be treated differently from other forms of hate. “Slander, insult and actual hate against Jews gets a pass — until some truly extreme example calls attention to it. Try referencing any ‘marginalized’ group as ‘bags of feces’ and see how long any journalist, politician or ordinary citizen would last.”

As I wrote on Twitter, “I’m disappointed. I’m angry. And more than anything, I’m sad this is the state of affairs in Canada.”

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