My post yesterday focused on the government’s multiple failures with regard to providing funding to an anti-semite as part of the Canadian Heritage anti-hate program. It examined the department’s failure to conduct proper due diligence, the failure of most Liberal MPs to speak out, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage Chris Bittle’s since deleted tweet that suggested I was racist when I expressed concern about silence from government ministers such as Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.
One of the most notable aspects of the post was the emphasis on how it has been left largely to Jewish MPs such as Anthony Housefather and Ya’ara Saks to say something about the issue. While there have been a few other responses to media or constituent questions, pro-active statements have been shockingly missing. That reality may have sparked Housefather to issue a call for all 338 MPs to speak out.
The fact that Housefather’s caucus colleagues such as Bittle have actively defended Rodriguez remaining silent on the grounds that it “isn’t his file” is incredibly disheartening and arguably disqualifying for the ongoing work on online hate. Indeed, today Mark Goldberg argues:
A department that couldn’t react in a timely way to “reprehensible and vile” statements made on a single platform (Twitter) by one of their own paid consultants has little credibility to introduce legislation seeking regulatory oversight of all online content in Canada.
And lest anyone think the silence isn’t being noticed in the Jewish community, consider the comments last night from former Liberal MP (and current President and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center) Michael Levitt, who described himself as utterly disheartened by the lack of a public response.
All MPs can stay silent no more.