Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen will appear before the Commons heritage committee to explain how his department’s anti-racism unit granted Community Media Advocacy Centre a contract to run a project dealing with anti-racism in broadcasting.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

An anti-racism group that works with Laith Marouf – a consultant who wrote a series of derogatory tweets about “Jewish white supremacists,” Black and Indigenous public figures and francophones – could still be paid thousands of dollars to take part in proceedings held by the Canadian Radio-television Communications Commission.

Mr. Marouf, whose tweets were condemned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is a senior consultant at the Community Media Advocacy Centre, which describes itself as a non-profit organization supporting the “self-determination of Indigenous, racialized and disabled peoples in the media through research, relationship-building, advocacy and learning.”

The organization has been paid more than $500,000 for taking part in CRTC proceedings since 2016. Most of the payments came from the Broadcast Participation Fund, an independent body set up by the CRTC to pay for public interest groups’ participation in those proceedings. Mr. Marouf and his wife, Gretchen King, an academic, have both taken part in the commission’s hearings.

On Thursday, the CRTC told The Globe and Mail it did not plan to ban CMAC from participating in future proceedings.

“As an administrative tribunal, the CRTC holds public proceedings. Anybody can participate in them,” said Patricia Valladao, a spokesperson for the commission. “It would be inappropriate for the CRTC to establish lists of parties that may or may not participate in its proceedings.”

On Friday, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen will appear before the Commons heritage committee to explain how his department’s anti-racism unit granted CMAC a contract to run a project dealing with anti-racism in broadcasting.

Mr. Hussen was quoted alongside Mr. Marouf in a press release announcing the initiative in April.

In August, the Minister cancelled the project, which was worth $133,000 in funding for CMAC, after Mr. Marouf’s tweets came to light. At the time, Mr. Hussen called them “reprehensible and vile.”

Arevig Afarian, a spokesperson for Mr. Hussen, said the department is asking for the entire $133,000 back, and that it has tightened its vetting procedures for future contracts. And she said the Minister has told officials to put new conditions in all funding agreements allowing the government to take immediate action if an organization or employee is found to have made hateful or discriminatory comments.

Also in August, Mr. Trudeau said the government had launched a complete review of funding for CMAC. “It is absolutely unacceptable that federal dollars have gone to this organization that has demonstrated xenophobia, racism and antisemitism,” he told reporters.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs called on the CRTC to follow the federal government’s lead and “terminate” any working relationship with Mr. Marouf and CMAC.

“If CMAC has been disqualified from benefiting from government contracts, that should apply equally to the CRTC, which is charged with serious responsibilities related to the public good,” Shimon Koffler Fogel, the centre’s president, said in an e-mail.

Mr. Marouf told The Globe that he will continue to work part-time for CMAC, depending “on what files come up and what CMAC wants.”

He denies he is antisemitic, and said that he has the backing of a “panel” of Black, Indigenous and Jewish supporters. He said Mr. Trudeau’s comments had misrepresented him, and that he had received death threats after his tweets came to public attention.

“I’ve been accused of antisemitism, I’ve been accused of being racist or xenophobic by the government of Canada,” he said.

He criticized politicians, including Mr. Hussen, saying they have engaged in “pompous showmanship between MPs and other politicians in Canada to show who is more appeasing to the Zionist lobby.”

Opinion: Ahmed Hussen demands to know how someone else let his government partner with an apparent antisemite

Twitter has removed his account, saying he was in violation of its rules against hateful conduct. The tweets were first brought to the company’s attention by telecom consultant Mark Goldberg, who also tweeted about them to politicians.

Last month, at a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism, an international group of lawmakers and public figures from Canada and other countries, a Twitter executive was confronted about why the company had not taken swifter action in response to Mr. Marouf’s tweets.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, who sits on the task force and the Commons heritage committee, told The Globe that he will ask the Diversity Minister to explain, when he appears before the committee on Friday, what steps he will take “to ensure that organizations like CMAC and individuals like Laith Marouf will never again be able to receive funding from the Government of Canada.”

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe