Ottawa needs ‘targeted’ online hate plan after Marouf controversy, say Jewish advocates – National | PKBNEWS

Canadian Jewish advocacy groups say recent case of taxpayer-funded consultant accused of anti-Semitism demonstrates need for ‘targeted’ action by federal government to craft anti-hate plan on line.

The exhortation comes amid a troubling rise in anti-Semitism in Canada and around the world, and days after Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen told a parliamentary committee that he was aware of the hate comments posted by Laith Marouf about a month before he cut funding to the Community Media Advocacy Centre. (CMAC), where Marouf is a senior consultant.

Funding was cut from the group, which was overseeing an anti-racism project, shortly after Marouf’s tweets about “Jewish white supremacists” surfaced in the media in August.

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Trudeau promises ‘comprehensive review’ of funding for anti-racism groups after consultant tweets

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“For us, it’s not the delay” of Hussen that’s troubling, said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights. “What’s important is that we have to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

Hussen told the committee on Friday that Liberal MP Anthony Housefather first raised concerns about the organization with him on July 19 or 20 and that his office immediately asked the Department of Heritage to look into details of the funding. of the project and to keep him informed of the next steps.

Hussen insisted to Tory MPs who criticized the weeks-long wait before funding was cut that he acted immediately, but the process took time – a statement Rotrand and other advocates say they accept.

They also expressed support for statements by Hussen and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised to strengthen the project funding process in the future.

But they add that more needs to be done, both to further limit taxpayer funding to groups that embrace hate speech and to fast-track proposed online anti-hate legislation.

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“Social media companies have played a very important role in amplifying these feelings of hatred circulating on the internet,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

“It is all the more important for the government to move forward in a really focused way with the legislation it is working on to address the problem of hate and harm online, and the ways in which we cannot not just encourage but co-opt social media platforms to take responsibility for what appears on their sites.

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Heritage minister condemns ‘disgusting’ tweets by anti-racism group consultant

Marouf’s Twitter account was private, but screenshots posted online showed a number of tweets with his photo and name.

One tweet read: “You all know those loud-mouthed human excrement bags aka Jewish white supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they came from, they will again be whispered bitches of their (sic) Christian/secular white supremacist masters.

This summer, a lawyer acting for Marouf requested that his client’s tweets be quoted “verbatim” and distinguished between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists'” and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf harbors “no animosity toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” attorney Stephen Ellis said in an August email to The Canadian Press.

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Marouf’s account and others he created under other names have since been suspended, but he has continued to use other platforms to double down on his inflammatory language. He insisted that he stood for Palestinian independence from Israel.

In September, he made a statement on YouTube calling for the overthrow of Canada’s ‘Zionist’ government and the arrest and imprisonment of Trudeau on the grounds that it was the prime minister, not Marouf, who was broadcasting speeches of hate.

Hussen told the committee last week that there will be a renewed and reformed anti-racism strategy, informed by communities, including those “who have been directly attacked by Mr. Marouf.”

He also promised that new conditions will be added to all federal funding agreements that allow the government to take action if an organization or individual is found to have “fostered or shared hatred, racism, anti-Semitism or discrimination in any form”.

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But supporters say that commitment should be extended to all crown corporations and regulators, including the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Public records show that CMAC, Marouf’s organization, has received approximately $500,000 in payments from the Independent Broadcasting Participation Fund since 2016 after appearing as a public interest group in CRTC proceedings.

“It seems inconsistent to us that the government has an approach, a strong and unequivocal approach, but that this does not extend to all the agencies and entities that are responsible for the public trust and benefit from taxpayers’ money” , Fogel said.

The CRTC told PKBNEWS in a statement that the payments do not constitute funding for the CMAC, but are recouped costs to participate in proceedings that any group can request.

“To be clear, the CRTC has not provided any funding to CMAC,” a spokesperson said, adding in a follow-up email that the Broadcasting Participation Fund is also not funded from the CRTC budget. .

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Record year for anti-Semitism in Canada, says B’nai Brith Canada audit

Concerns arise as anti-Semitic incidents continue to rise. The latest audit of police and lawyer reports by B’nai Brith Canada found that 2021 was a sixth consecutive record year for antisemitism, with nearly 2,800 incidents recorded across Canada.

The figures marked a 7.2% increase on last year and, more worryingly, a 733% increase in violent incidents.

“Online hate, more than anything else, is the new way to target minority groups in Canada, and we need new laws in place to control that,” Rotrand said.

“Maybe when we audit in 2022 the numbers will be lower. Hopefully. That being said, we are still a long way from the time when we can breathe easy and say we have eradicated the scourge of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and racism in Canada.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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