Earlier this week, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather called on all 338 Members of Parliament to say something about the need to combat anti-semitism and to express concern about the government’s funding of an anti-semite as part of its anti-hate program. At that point, there were few MPs who had spoken publicly, leaving the issue largely to Jewish MPs to express concern. As I noted in a post reflecting on the issue, the message in the silence is that anti-semitism is a Jewish problem, not a broader societal concern. While I realize there is something performative about issuing a statement via tweet, elected officials do this all the time as a signal of their priorities or interests and to amplify their message.
Yet days later, the message has not been amplified and it would appear that the issue is not a priority. As of last night, I could find that only 1/3 of the cabinet has said anything about this issue in the weeks since it emerged: 11 cabinet ministers by tweet or retweet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in two press conferences, and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez in a statement provided in response to a journalist query (but, to date, no actual statement has been publicly released).
The cabinet ministers with tweets or retweets are:
- Ahmed Hussen (August 22)
- Marco Mendicino (August 22) – RT Hussen
- Marc Miller (August 29) (and RT Hussen)
- Carla Qualtrough (August 30)
- Seamus O’Regan (August 30)
- David Lametti (August 31)
- Ginette Petitpas Taylor (August 31) – RT Saks
- Bill Blair (August 31)
- Carolyn Bennett (August 31)
- Chrystia Freeland (Sept 1)
- Jonathan Wilkinson (Sept 1) – RT Freeland
I’d be happy to correct, but my review indicates that leaves two-thirds of the cabinet in silence:
- Lawrence MacAulay
- Dominic LeBlanc
- Jean-Yves Duclos
- Marie-Claude Bibeau
- Melanie Joly
- Diane Lebouthillier
- Harjit Sajjan
- Patty Hadju
- FP Champagne
- Karina Gould
- Mary Ng
- Filomena Tassi
- Joyce Murray
- Anita Anand
- Mona Fortier
- Steven Guilbeault
- Dan Vandal
- Omar Alghabra
- Randy Boissonnault
- Sean Fraser
- Mark Holland
- Gudie Hutchings
- Marcie Ien
- Helena Jaczek
- Kamal Khera
- Pascale St-Onge
In addition to the cabinet ministers, there have been a few MPs that have tweeted, retweeted, or responded to direct questions with a tweet. But the overall picture is one of far too much indifference. The reaction has sparked concern from many in the Jewish community, including communications professionals who wrote to Rodriguez and Hussen to urge a more public response (I am a signatory). In fact, Trudeau has never issued a formal statement and Rodriguez has yet to tweet or issue his statement publicly either. When I asked the department for the statement, I was told to ask his press secretary. Repeated requests have gone unanswered.
Then there is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage Chris Bittle, who after apologizing and deleting a tweet suggesting I am racist, turned to misinformation when he told a reporter that he was “bullied by a bully and got baited into a tweet” despite the fact that I don’t follow him on twitter, never tagged him in a tweet, and muted his account months ago.
Before this issue recedes from the spotlight, I think it should be clearly stated that this is not remotely a good enough response for any government, much less one that has emphasized anti-hate and Internet speech regulation. This should not have been hard: a serious mistake was made and a serious government would accept responsibility, immediately cut funding, commit without hesitation to an investigation to ensure it never happens again, and provide a united, vocal front in affirming its deep belief in combatting anti-semitism. I am at a loss to explain why each of these steps has been slow in coming, but I believe it will not be soon forgotten.
I don’t think it’s indifference. These cabinet members all are scared of being demoted or kicked out of caucus by Justin: They all owe him fealty for their high position and excellent salary.
Justin has spoken out once about this and most likely wants it to Go Away so he can get back to demonizing the CPC. He probably has passed the word that he wants this issue to fall out if the news cycle as soon as possible, so everyone is to shut up about it.
And his sheep are all very obedient.
Agreed. The new Liberal Party of Canada constitution makes no mention of who is part of caucus, meaning that a Liberal Party member who is also an MP is a member of caucus at the pleasure of the PM. Thus anyone who displeases the PMO risks not allowed to run in the next election, or if particularly egregious, immediate expulsion. Judy Wilson Raybould is a good example, where she refused to to something which the law didn’t allow.
This is different to the way it was when the current PM took over the party; at the time that he ejected the senators from caucus the party constitution explicitly stated that all members of the party who were MPs or Senators were part of caucus. That was removed from the party constitution during one of the rewrites at some point in the last 6 years.
Don’t know why you are surprised. We have a Prime Minister who loves to wag his finger at others for their moral failings, but has repeatedly failed to take responsibility for his many transgressions (black face, dress up in India, SNC, women experience things differently than men, etc). Face it, Trudeau is as narcissistic as Trump. dumber than Dubya and shallow as Paris Hilton and Cabinet is simply following his lead.
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If Israel would stop gleefully murdering the people whose land they occupy in their pursuit of an apartheid state – that’d prolly go a long way to helping people be less “anti-Semite” because according to the media, even if you are Jewish, not full stop supporting Israel’s murderous and cruel behavior in Gaza is the same as being an anti-Semite. A little like calling everyone a Nazi – it loses it’s sting when it is used as a weapon for anyone who has a differing opinion or thinks hey stop shooting children because they had a balloon, or shooting reporters showing the shooting of children because they had a balloon…