Ottawa improves vetting process to steer heritage grants away from groups promoting hate: Hussen
Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen says the Department of Canadian Heritage will improve its vetting process to ensure it does not give money to organizations that espouse hate – and those that do could be barred from future funding.
In an interview with CBC The House aired Saturday, Hussen said the federal government giving $133,000 to the Community Media Advocacy Center to develop and manage an anti-racism strategy for broadcasters indicated a failure in the vetting process.
In social media posts, CMAC senior consultant Laith Marouf spoke about “Jewish white supremacists,” referred to some Indigenous and Black people using the term “domestic slave,” and spoke about Quebec francophones in using the slur « frogs ».
“The fact that this slipped through the cracks is a slap in the face for the Jewish community and the Francophone community, and for many other communities, and for that I sincerely apologize,” Hussen told host Catherine Cullen.
WATCH | Government cuts funding to group linked to anti-Semitic comments:
« This incident reflects a failure in the verification system that not only missed Marouf’s despicable language online, but did not reveal this information later to correct the error. »
Hussen said the department’s vetting processes will be strengthened and any organization that spreads hateful views could be barred from receiving future funding.
Organizations « would not only have their [existing] funding cut, but they will not be eligible to receive future federal funds – they will not be eligible to apply for Department of Canadian Heritage programs,” Hussen said.
He said no new federal money will come from Canadian Heritage until the new processes are in place.
CBC News: The House6:27Minister responds to controversy over anti-racism funding for group espousing racist views
Liberal MP criticizes initial response
Liberal MP Anthony Housefather reported the comments to Hussen’s office in July and said he was « disappointed » with the department’s response ahead of the funding cut announcement. Hussen said on Saturday that he quickly instructed his office to investigate and find solutions, but now wishes the process had gone more quickly.
Prominent Jewish figures in the Liberal Party have openly expressed the need for action on funding. Former Liberal MP Michael Levitt, now president and CEO of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said on Twitter that he was « completely discouraged » by the Marouf affair.
« Taking a stand against anti-Semitism should be a no-brainer and yet so few of my former Liberal colleagues have done so. It really hurts. Jewish MPs should not be left alone to speak out against it, » he wrote. .
Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said earlier this month that the tweets showed the need to review surveillance policies at Canadian Heritage.
The Canadian Press reported last month that 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 people. Jew in general.
Marouf harbors “no animosity toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” attorney Stephen Ellis said in an email.