Trudeau reiterates there will be full review of funding for anti-racism program after Laith Marouf scandal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photograph: Chris Roussakis/EPA

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that it is absolutely unacceptable anti-racism dollars went to an organization employing someone with clearly antisemitic views.

The Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) received $133,000 from the government to do anti-racism training this spring. Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen cut off the government’s funding immediately after the initial media reports that the senior consultant and founder of the group, Laith Marouf, had posted a series of antisemitic and anti-francophone message on social media.

At a media availability in Kitchener, Ont., Tuesday Trudeau said there was no justification for the government’s mistake.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that federal dollars have gone to this organization that has demonstrated xenophobia, racism, and antisemitism,” he said. “We cannot accept racism, hatred and anger, particularly not funded by the government and that’s why we took action quickly.”

Former Liberal MP Michael Levitt, who is now president and CEO of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he was disappointed more Liberal MPs weren’t denouncing this mistake and making it clear the government won’t defend antisemitism.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather has said he disappointed in his own government for not moving more quickly, saying he had highlighted the issue to Hussen well before the news broke.

Trudeau said the government would be doing a complete review of any dollars the organization might be receiving, not just for this grant but also looking further to ensure no government money funds hate.

“We are absolutely in the process of doing a complete review to make sure that this organization is not getting any funding from the government. And we are making sure that we’re putting in place procedures that ensure that this never happens again.”

CMAC was given the $133,000 contract to lead consultations on an anti-racism strategy for the broadcasting sector.

In an email to supporters after the contract was cancelled, CMAC said it had suspended the work it was doing. The group said the coverage of the issue did not reflect its goals.

“After this week’s media coverage, CMAC is reminded of how online and mainstream media are powerful tools of white supremacy,” it said in an email to supporters. “CMAC is a not-for-profit corporation, engaging in research, relationship building, and learning to advocate for the rights of Indigenous, racialized and disability communities within the communications, broadcasting and media industries.

Source: National Post