Bloc takes aim at new transport minister over ‘Islamic movement’ ties

Playing ugly identity politics:

The Bloc Québécois is seeking to sow doubt about Canada’s new Transport Minister Omar Alghabra over his association with what it calls “the political Islamic movement.”

Leader Yves-François Blanchet said in a release that “questions arise” due to the minister’s former role as head of the Canadian Arab Federation.

But the Bloc leader said he “refuses to accuse” the minister of anything specific.

Alghabra was the federation’s president before being elected as a Toronto-area Liberal MP in 2006.

Rather than make specific accusations, the Bloc linked to a 2016 article by a right-wing Quebec newspaper columnist that made implications about Alghabra’s past.

“It’s really questions about his past and also the separation of church and state, which is a profound value for the Bloc,” said spokesman Julien Coulombe-Bonnafous.

“We don’t want to raise any accusations, because I don’t think there’s that much.”

In 2009, then-citizenship and immigration minister Jason Kenney opted to cut funding for the Canadian Arab Federation, whose leader at the time made statements that Kenney called anti-Semitic and supportive of terrorist groups.

The Bloc’s attempt to undermine confidence in Alghabra, who was sworn in as transport minister Tuesday, follows his move to distance himself from a YouTuber who has expressed intolerant views toward LGBTQ communities.

Alghabra said in a statement Tuesday night he is a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights and was “shocked and disappointed” to learn of a video using homophobic slurs that was posted online by Fadi Younes, whose digital marketing agency Alghabra had hired on a contract that has since been terminated.

“I was not aware of these comments before today and I wholly reject them,” said the MP for Mississauga Centre.

“We must combat ignorance, hate or intolerance in our society. I will continue to support LGBTQ rights, as we continue to build a more inclusive and tolerant society for everyone.”

Alghabra has been subjected to innuendo about his background before.

In 2018, Conservative Sen. Denise Batters apologized to Alghabra, who was born in Saudi Arabia, after she wondered aloud why the then-parliamentary secretary for the foreign affairs minister wasn’t questioned about his place of birth while speaking with the media about Canada’s diplomatic dispute with the country at the time.

“Senator, I’m a proud Canadian who is consistent in defending human rights. How about you?” Alghabra tweeted in response to a Twitter post from Batters.

The next day, he tweeted that she had called to apologize, saying he accepted the gesture and said Batters had told him “this is a lesson to all of us.”

Source: Bloc takes aim at new transport minister over ‘Islamic movement’ ties

Court backs Conservatives’ funding cut to ‘anti-Semitic’ Arab group

Finally picked up by the English language press:

An appeal court has upheld the Conservative government’s decision to cut funding to a “radical and anti-Semitic” Arab-Canadian group once headed by a Liberal candidate.

In 2009, then-Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney cut $1 million in annual funding to the Canadian Arab Federation, arguing that the group’s leadership had repeatedly expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah. The Federation had a long track record of “expressing hateful, antisemitic views, and glorifying terrorists,” said Kenney in a Wednesday email to the National Post.

The group has subsequently failed in two lawsuits to have the funding reinstated. The Federal Court upheld Kenney’s decision in 2014, followed more recently by the Federal Court of Appeal.

“I have been on public record disagreeing with the approach taken by the current administration of the Canadian Arab Federation,” said Omar Alghabra, Liberal candidate for Mississauga Centre and a president of the group between 2004 and 2005.

He added, “at the end of the day, it’s government’s prerogative to make decisions on what to fund and what not to fund.”

The Canadian Arab Federation had been paid an annual sum of $1 million in exchange for providing language-training services to new immigrants.

In severing ties with the group, Kenney’s office had cited several specific incidents, including a CAF executive attending a Cairo conference where Hamas and Hezbollah delegates were present, and a CAF-organized rally in which the Hezbollah flag was flown. Last year, a decision by Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn wrote that, based on the Ministry’s evidence, “CAF appears to support organizations that Canada has declared to be terrorist organizations and which are arguably anti-Semitic.”

Source: Court backs Conservatives’ funding cut to ‘anti-Semitic’ Arab group 

Financement supprimé: la Fédération canado-arabe perd en appel | National

And so it ends (as part of the Government’s defence, I had to submit an affidavit as part of the discovery process):

La Cour d’appel fédérale a rejeté la tentative de la Fédération canado-arabe de faire renverser une décision par laquelle son financement avait été supprimé en raison d’allégations voulant que le groupe soutienne les actions d’organisations terroristes.

Dans sa décision, la Cour d’appel a dit que la fédération ne pouvait réclamer «un devoir d’équité procédurale» de l’ancien ministre de l’Immigration Jason Kenney.

Le banc de trois juges a unanimement confirmé la décision de la Cour fédérale, à l’effet que M. Kenney avait suivi le protocole en décidant de ne pas renouveler le financement d’un programme d’apprentissage de langues pour les immigrants en 2009-2010.

Citoyenneté et Immigration a déclaré à la fédération en mars 2009 que certaines déclarations faites par ses responsables semblaient être antisémites et soutenir des groupes terroristes.

La lettre du ministère affirme que cela soulevait de sérieuses préoccupations au sujet de l’intégrité de la fédération et que cela avait miné la confiance du gouvernement envers l’organisme en tant que partenaire approprié pour offrir des services aux nouveaux arrivants.

La fédération avait plaidé en Cour fédérale que les déclarations en question avaient été faites par des personnes qui ne représentaient pas officiellement l’organisation et qu’elle ne les avait pas approuvées.

via Financement supprimé: la Fédération canado-arabe perd en appel | National.

Tory MP given federal contracts months before, after failed 2008 election bid

Interesting story. In contrast to multiculturalism and  historical recognition grants and contributions (G&Cs), not delegated to officials, integration programming, largely language training, was delegated. When Minister Kenney became Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, officials had to explain why the sheer volume of G&Cs made Ministerial review impractical.

Minister Kenney had bad experience with the multiculturalism G&Cs as officials remained in denial mode, continuing to favour traditional organizations and approaches, leading the Minister to reject most proposals. Ministerial staffers would routinely Google organizations, to check for consistency between departmental descriptions of individual projects and the overall approach of the organization. It sometimes led to uncomfortable discussions, but his office was applying due diligence, more so than some of the officials (I eventually also would Google before approval).

Given the Minister’s concerns about delegation, a system was put in place to provide a heads-up on planned project approvals, an early detection system to avoid surprises and reduce the likelihood of project approval contrary to the Minister’s wishes. This was partially prompted by the Canadian Arab Federation case (Jason Kenney’s decision to cut funding to the Canadian Arab Federation):

When asked whether Diane Finley, who was the CIC minister at the time, was aware of the contract, spokesman Marcel Poulin said only that “officials award contracts, not ministers.”

That fall, Ms. Young ran in Vancouver South for the Conservatives, losing by just 20 votes to Liberal incumbent Ujjal Dosanjh.

The questions about the first contract didn’t deter Ms. Young’s consulting firm – her office declined to say how many employees the firm had beyond Ms. Young – from seeking a second one just over a year after the election. The November, 2009, pact totalled $452,900 for planning the same conference, this time in early 2010. It included $337,000 for “program delivery” and $115,900 for “administrative” functions. Again, the specific costs are redacted.

A spokeswoman for Jason Kenney, who had succeeded Ms. Finley as CIC minister when the second contract was awarded, said he had “no knowledge of or involvement” with the contracts.

A statement from the department echoed that. “Both contracts were assessed and approved by the appropriate delegated departmental official,” spokeswoman Sonia Lesage said.

Tory MP given federal contracts months before, after failed 2008 election bid – The Globe and Mail.