Liberal government cuts funding, suspends anti-racism group’s project after tweets

Should never have happened.

Officials need to do a better job in G&C applications vetting, including social media of the organization and key staff to reduce future risks:

The Liberal government has cut funding for an anti-racism group and suspended work on a project it was running after a member of the group made antisemitic remarks in a social media post.

“Antisemitism has no place in this country. The antisemitic comments made by Laith Marouf are reprehensible and vile,” Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement posted on Twitter Monday.

“We have provided notice to the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) that their funding has been cut and their project has been suspended.”

Marouf, a senior consultant on an anti-racism project that received $133,000 from the federal government, posted the controversial remarks on his Twitter account. The account is private but a screenshot of the post showed a number of tweets with his photo and name.

One tweet said: “You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, aka the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of [their] Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters.”

Last year, the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) received a $133,800 Department of Canadian Heritage grant to build an anti-racism strategy for Canadian broadcasting.

The Liberal government has cut funding to an outside group it hired to deliver anti-racism training after it was discovered that one of the group’s leaders made antisemitic remarks in social media posts.

Marouf is listed as a senior consultant on CMAC’s website and is quoted saying that CMAC is “excited to launch” the “Building an Anti-Racism Strategy for Canadian Broadcasting: Conversation & Convergence Initiative” with funding support from Heritage’s anti-racism action program.

He expressed gratitude to “Canadian Heritage for their partnership and trust imposed on us,” saying that CMAC commits to “ensuring the successful and responsible execution of the project.”

Marouf is not antisemitic, says lawyer

In Hussen’s statement, he called on CMAC to explain how it came to hire Marouf and how it plans to rectify the damage caused by his “antisemitic and xenophobic statements.”

“We look forward to a proper response on their next steps and clear accountability regarding this matter,” he said.

The Canadian Press reported last week that a lawyer acting for Marouf asked for his client’s tweets to be quoted “verbatim” and distinguished between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists”‘ and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” lawyer Stephen Ellis said in an email.

Source: Liberal government cuts funding, suspends anti-racism group’s project after tweets

Lilley of the Toronto Sun:

At noon Monday, Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen tweeted out that he was cutting the funding from the Community Media Advocacy Centre.

The Montreal based group received a $133,822 grant last September for a program called Building an Anti-Racism Strategy for Canadian Broadcasting. It had already held workshops in Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax with events still scheduled for Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

A major problem, though, were the comments from the man leading these sessions, Laith Marouf. He has called “Jewish White Supremacists” “bags of human feces,” said that French is an ugly language, and that “Frogs have much less IQ.” He once called Colin Powell the “Jamaican house slave of the Empire.”

Marouf’s lawyer said that Marouf does not have “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group” and said his tweets made a clear distinction between “Jewish White Supremacists” and Jews in general.  But that explanation is difficult to accept.

That’s not the kind of person who should be lecturing another human being on racism.

“The anti-Semitic comments made by Laith Marouf are reprehensible and vile,” Hussen said in a statement.

“We have provided notice to the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) that their funding has been cut and their project has been suspended.”

Hussen called on CMAC to explain how they came to hire Marouf, given that the group is supposed to be about fighting racism and hate while Marouf’s comments were “anti-Semitic and xenophobic.” The minister should be pushing CMAC to answer those questions, but he has to answer many himself.

How did this group and Marouf get funding in the first place?

How could Hussen end up being quoted in an April press release with Marouf when a simple search would have turned up many of his vile comments?

Will anyone be held accountable for this?

We used to have ministerial accountability in our government; ministers would resign when their departments messed up. There’s no doubt that the government did mess up, not just Hussen’s department, but also Canadian Heritage which approved the grant.

Speaking to government insiders to get a sense of how this came to be shows a series of missteps across four different ministers, two departments and many months. The grant was approved last September as Canada was in the middle of a federal election.

The grant had been making its way through the system at Heritage Canada which was then overseen by then-minister Steven Guilbeault. While the grant was funded by Heritage, it was handed out by the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth which at that time was Bardish Chagger.

By the time the government got around to actually handing out the money and making and making an announcement, Pablo Rodriguez was the minister at Heritage and Hussen had taken over the diversity file. It appears that the vetting process wasn’t fully followed because the people in charge assumed others had or would do the vetting required.

On the one hand, I am tempted to cut the government some slack because their contract was with CMAC, not Larouf, but he’s been with them for years. This was not a new hire; he’s featured on their website and was likely central to their application.

According to government sources, had the contract been directly with Marouf, he could have been fired immediately. Since the contract was with CMAC, the government had legal advice they had to follow before the contract could be terminated.

There is now an internal review to see how this happened, and the government is looking at their options, including whether any funding can be recovered from the group.

They should be reviewing the entire anti-racism training industry they are supporting. As I’ve written previously, it appears to a sham.

It took the Trudeau government longer than it should have to fix their mistake, but at least they are fixing it.

Source: LILLEY: Firing anti-racism group took too long given trainer’s racist comments

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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