Measures Implemented by Canadian Heritage Should Be Applied across Government

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CIJA
|October 07, 2022
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CIJA pleased federal government is taking steps to prevent funding for groups promoting hate 

Ottawa, ON – October 7, 2022 – Today, a Standing Committee Briefing on Canadian Heritage’s Contract with the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) was held to review how anti-racism program funding was allocated to the organization despite its lead consultant, Laith Marouf’s history of disseminating antisemitic and racist rhetoric across social media.  

“Laith Marouf’s hateful statements should have disqualified him, and CMAC, from access to any government funding, let alone to money from an anti-racism program,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “It is imperative that the values promoted by the government be reflected in the orientation and work of their partners outside government. There were many systematic failures that allowed CMAC – and, through them, Laith Marouf – to fall through the bureaucratic cracks. While disturbing that this occurred, the result is that vetting processes will now be more stringent and applied across the government to prevent further taxpayer-funds from flowing to hateful groups. It was a hard lesson to learn, but this is a great example of how – when government and stakeholders work together – real progress can be made.” 

During the Briefing, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen offered a strong condemnation of Marouf’s comments and reiterated his ministry’s failings, taking responsibility for the insufficient vetting processes previously in place. He laid out his plan to address the issue and enhance the vetting process and, once again, affirmed their commitment that this would be a “whole of government” response, with procedures extending to all departments who award contracts to third parties.  

The plan is not limited to, but includes: 

  • Terminating the contract with CMAC and demanding a repayment of already disbursed funds. 

  • Enhanced diversity and inclusion training for all program officers, including understanding of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. 

  • Adding grantee attestation to all funding agreements to hold groups accountable to Canada’s anti-racism strategy, the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and DEI training, among other criteria, that would allow for immediate action should the receiving organization be found to have promoted hate. 

“This time, the problem was with CMAC, but it is by no means the only problematic organization to have been awarded government funding. The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) is another grant recipient, which received $3.2 million in Government of Canada funding between 2009-2022 and hosted, at their conference in June, extremist speakers known for promoting homophobic, antisemitic, and misogynistic messages. They too should be under similar scrutiny,” said Koffler Fogel. “We are pleased that Canadian Heritage has made a commitment that vetting procedures across the government would be reviewed and reinforced, and we will be taking this opportunity to bring other problematic organizations who receive government funding to the attention of appropriate ministries.” 

However, not all departments are implementing the recommendations. As uncovered during the scandal, the CRTC has supervised and, in some cases, approved approximately $540,000 in compensation to CMAC for its participation in CRTC hearings. As reported in the Globe and Mail, the CRTC stated “it did not plan to ban CMAC from participating in future proceedings.” 

“CIJA is deeply disappointed that, despite all-party condemnation of Marouf’s dissemination of hatred against Jews, Francophones, and members of the Black and Indigenous communities, the CRTC refuses to sever ties with his organization, CMAC,” said Koffler Fogel.

“As Canadian Heritage has done, we call on CRTC to end funding to groups like CMAC that harbour and promote hate. 

“CIJA will continue to hold the Government accountable and ensure that their words are matched by concrete deeds.”  

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The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, representing Jewish Federations across Canada.
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