Alleging a pro-Israeli bias, the Bloc Quebecois announced earlier this month it was withdrawing its two MP representatives from the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, a move one Jewish organization says is doing more harm than good.
Former Bloc members of the coalition’s steering committee, MPs Ãˆve-Mary ThaÃ¯ Thi Lac and Luc Desnoyers, said they requested last November two additional organizations contribute to an upcoming inquiry into anti-Semitism, in an effort to balance and diversify the viewpoints. Requests to have Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East or the Canadian Arab Federation participate were ignored, with neither being invited to take part.
While Desnoyers has said his party’s decision to withdraw its support is based on the “inequality of opinions presented before the coalition,” others say the move won’t do any good.
“It’s counterproductive, to say the least,” said Frank Dimant, executive vice-president for B’nai Brith Canada. “He has politicized a non-partisan issue of concern to all Canadians.”
Dimant said he would like the Bloc to reconsider its decision to leave the coalition, a panel he describes as an “important initiative to combat anti-Semitism in Canada.”
President of CJPME, Thomas Woodley, said he is “absolutely opposed to anti-Semitism,” but that “if an objective perspective is truly desired, the CPCCA hearing must welcome diverse and potentially opposing viewpoints.”
The other group that wasn’t invited to take part in the in the hearings, CAF, lost its funding in 2009 after calling Citizenship, Immigration and Multicultural Minister Jason Kenney a “professional whore,” when he continued to support the State of Israel and allegedly failed to criticize Israel’s actions during the 2008 siege on the Gaza strip.
The CPCCA’s mandate is said to be based on the statutes of the London Declaration, which suggests there is a worldwide surge in anti-Semitism, especially in England and Canada. “We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations &- in rhetoric and political actions &- against Jews, Jewish belief and practice and the State of Israel,” the declaration states.
Conservative MP Scott Reid, chair of the CPCCA’s steering committee, said in an interview with the Jewish Tribune that his organization received at least 200 written submissions to participate in the conference. Reid said that many organizations applied to the committee and were turned down, including the Canadian Association of Holocaust Survivors. “To argue that we are being biased when we turned down this group is ludicrous,” he said in the interview.
As the debate continues, Bloc spokesperson Michel Guimond made his party’s stance clear in a recent interview with Le Devoir saying, “We consider that the Coalition is tainted, partisan and presents a single side of the coin. We desired a much more moderate approach, more consensual, and still with the outlook to find peace.”