The government’s funding of Laith Marouf, a known anti-semite, sparked anger and condemnation last summer as many wondered how Canadian Heritage failed to conduct the necessary due diligence to weed him out as part of its anti-hate program. While government MPs such as Anthony Housefather urged action, then-Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussein was slow to respond and then-Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez inexplicably remained silent. I posted repeatedly on his silence, leading his Parliamentary Secretary, MP Chris Bittle, to suggest that I was racist and a bully. Yet as we have witnessed in recent days, when it comes to antisemitism, silence is not an option. The threat is literally playing out in our streets and campuses and we need everyone – Jews and non-Jews alike – to speak out against it and take action where necessary.
Even after Housefather pleaded with his fellow MPs to speak out, it still took Rodriguez days to say anything. And when he did, he pointedly did not issue a public statement. In fact, repeated requests for the statement he apparently provided to one news outlet were ignored. The failure to speak out against antisemitism – the notion that it “wasn’t his file” – displayed an utter lack of awareness of the need to counter hate and stand in solidarity with affected communities. That display of weak moral character alone may not be a fireable offence, but lying to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is.