‘It is totally unacceptable that government funds have been used to promote an antisemitic movement in Canada,’ said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada
A voting guide for Canadian Muslims rated federal political leaders on their views on a boycott campaign against Israel and was partly funded by a federal grant, a Jewish advocacy group said Friday.
B’nai Brith Canada urged an end to any government funding that could encourage what it called the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The group said that the Canadian Islamophobia Industry Research Project at Wilfrid Laurier University authored the Canadian Muslim Voting Guide, which gauges responses from the federal party leaders to six national and six international issues that might concern Canadian Muslim voters.
One issue discusses the BDS movement, a campaign that argues for international boycotting of Israeli interests, divestment from Israeli state and business activities, as well as sanctions.
“The Voting Guide purports to assign a ‘Fail’ grade to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for recognizing that BDS is a form of antisemitism that harms Jewish students on Canadian campuses, and gives the same failing grade to Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer,” B’Nai Brith said in a statement.
“It is totally unacceptable that government funds have been used to promote an antisemitic movement in Canada,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, in a press release. “It is deeply troubling that taxpayer dollars were used to subsidize a document ‘guiding’ Canadians on whom to support in an election.”
The Canadian Islamophobia Industry Research Project studies “media outlets, political figures, academics, think tanks, far right groups and ideologues, and the donors who fund their campaigns,” as part of a broader anti-Muslim “industry,” the project’s website says.
It received $24,923 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), which funds academic research at universities across Canada.
Another Jewish group, the Centre for Israeli and Jewish Affairs, said after complaining about the grant to the SSHRC, the agency had launched an investigation.
It is totally unacceptable that government funds have been used to promote an antisemitic movement
In a statement, SSHRC said it had no prior knowledge of the guide being produced and “was not consulted in the development of this document.”
“SSHRC grants are awarded through a competitive and impartial process of independent merit review – managed at arm’s length from government – designed to ensure the highest standards of excellence,” it added.
Jasmin Zine, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier and the guide’s lead author, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
BDS campaigns have been debated on university campuses and in Canadian legislatures. It’s backed by a variety of figures, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and organizations such as the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have expressed support.
However, Parliamentarians in 2016, voted to condemn BDS as anti-Semitic, in response to a motion by MP Tony Clement; the Ontario legislature also condemned it the same year.