Levitt ‘disappointed’ by response to anti-racism contracts


Former Liberal MP Michael Levitt is criticizing his former colleagues for not speaking out against the claims of Laith Marouf, a senior adviser at an agency receiving government funding for a project. against racism.

“Looking back at the events of the past week (with) related to the Marouf incident, I am truly disappointed,” Levitt said on Twitter on Monday.

“Standing against anti-Semitism should be given (and) but very few of my former Liberal colleagues have done so. This really hurts. Jewish MPs shouldn’t point out. this alone.”

Levitt represented Toronto riding the York Center for Liberals for five years before leaving in 2020 to become the Executive Director of Simon Wiesenthal’s Center for the Study of Canadian Massacre.

The Center released a statement last week expressing relief that the federal government had cut funding for the Community Media Advocacy Center but questioned why the contract was awarded in the first place.

CMAC has been granted $133,000 in funding through the federal Heritage Bureau’s anti-racism action program to develop an anti-racism strategy aimed at media and radio policymakers. of the country.

Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen expressed concern and opened a contract referral investigation after the Canadian Press asked his office for an explanation. He cut funding and suspended the project on August 22, three days after the Canadian Press ran a story about tweets posted by Marouf, a senior consultant at CMAC.

Hussen said the CMAC must explain “how they came to hire Laith Marouf, and how they plan to remedy the situation given the nature of the xenophobic and xenophobic comments.”

Marouf’s Twitter account is private, but a screenshot posted online shows some of the tweets with his photo and name.

One tweet said: “You know all those big mouth bags of human excrement, aka Jewish white supremacists; when we liberated Palestine and they had to go back to where they came from. out, they’ll be back to being their low-pitched bitches (sic) Christian/Secular White Supermasters.”

An attorney acting for Marouf asked his client’s tweets to be quoted “verbally” and to distinguish between “Marouf’s explicit reference to ‘white Jewish supremacists’ “‘ and Jews or Jews in general.

Attorney Stephen Ellis said in an email to The Canadian Press, Marouf does not harbor “any aversion to the Jewish faith as a collective group”.

Ellis added: “While not the most artistic expression, the tweets reflect frustration with the reality of the apartheid Israeli regime and the Canadian government that cooperates with it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed displeasure at the comments when asked about them by reporters at press conferences last week and again on Tuesday.

Last Friday, Trudeau called the remarks “completely unacceptable and reprehensible.” On Tuesday, he said the government was ensuring such a contract would not be re-issued to organizations expressing xenophobia, racism or anti-Semitism.

“We spoke up and will continue to speak up and I’m happy to do it again today,” he said.

Conservative MPs have criticized Trudeau for not issuing a formal statement condemning Marouf’s comments, and the Liberal caucus has generally been silent about them.

“Today is another day, the @CanadianPM account can issue an official statement denouncing #LaithMarouf and condemning the hateful hateful commentary that has no place in Canada,” the British Columbia MP said. Dan Albas said on Twitter Monday.

“The continued silence from Prime Minister Trudeau and the majority of his Liberal caucuses is unacceptable.”

Two Liberal MPs, Anthony Housefather from Montreal and Ya’ara Saks, who replaced Levitt as MP from York Center in the 2020 election, both voiced their horror and demanded an explanation as soon as possible. they know about Marouf’s situation. Both are Jewish.

Toronto Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith retweeted Hussen’s statement on Aug. 21. That same day, Taleeb Noormohamed, Liberal MP for Vancouver-Granville, responded to a question on Twitter about his thoughts. his comments about Marouf and called the comments “vile, racist, and anti-Semitic.”

Undersecretary for Indigenous Relations – Crown Marc Miller dismissed Marouf’s comments on Monday, after learning the CMAC had received about $800 through a grant approved by his election office. as part of the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2018.

The organization was approved to accept nearly $3,000, but received only that amount, according to the office of Minister for Women, Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien, the minister who made the program public this year.

Miller said: “I want to be clear, I never met Laith Marouf and was not aware of his existence until three weeks ago. “His opposing views are despicable and any organization affiliated with him, cannot receive funding.”

It was not until after Levitt’s tweet, and another from Housefather asking all 338 MPs to condemn anti-Semitism, that a significant number of Liberal MPs spoke up.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on August 30, 2022.

With files from Marie Woolf.

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