Federal minister of diversity Ahmed Hussen announced today in a statement posted on Twitter that the government has cut the funding it awarded to the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) to develop an anti-racism strategy for Canadian broadcasting after concerns were raised about a consultant on the project.
The project, which was awarded $133,822 by the federal government, has also now been suspended, according to the statement.
In April, CMAC launched a series of consultations as part of the project, which aim “to develop and disseminate an Anti-Racism Strategy that will reduce barriers to participation in media and broadcasting policy-making for Racialized Canadians,” a press release explains. Consultations have already taken place in Montreal, Vancouver and Halifax. Three more were scheduled to take place in Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa over the next few months.
However, since the funding was awarded, there have been numerous reports of antisemitic tweets from a Twitter account belonging to Laith Marouf, a senior consultant with CMAC. The account is private, but screenshots have circulated online. (And Mark Goldberg, founder of the Canadian Telecom Summit, has been calling out Marouf’s posts for years on his own Twitter account.)
“Antisemitism has no place in this country. The antisemitic comments made by Laith Marouf are reprehensible and vile,” Hussen said in his statement today.
“We call on CMAC, an organization claiming to fight racism and hate in Canada, to answer to how they came to hire Laith Marouf, and how they plan on rectifying the situation given the nature of his antisemitic and xenophobic statements,” his statement reads. “We look forward to a proper response on their next steps and clear accountability regarding this matter. I want to assure Canadians that our government has and will continue to fight antisemitism and hate in all its forms.”
Yesterday, the minister indicated on Twitter he and his team were taking the matter “extremely seriously” and were working to rectify the situation. “Organizations dedicated to fighting racism and discrimination must employ and partner with individuals who adhere to the values of inclusion and human decency,” he said.
Cartt.ca reached out to Marouf as well as CMAC for a comment for this story but did not hear back by deadline.
The Canadian Press reported last Friday a lawyer for Marouf said the consultant does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group.”
Anthony Housefather, a Liberal member of parliament, wants the matter – including Canadian Heritage’s role as the department that funded CMAC’s anti-racism project – to be reviewed. Noting in a tweet this afternoon that CMAC “needs to account for its hiring of Marouf,” Housefather argued “we need to also ensure that the Ministry of Canadian Heritage accepts accountability.” The MP further said in addition to a “thorough review” we need “measures taken to stop this happening again.”