I have used this column many times over the last few years to criticize Canada’s immigration minister for adopting policies which I did not agree with.
I have never, however, called our minister of immigration a “professional whore.”
The president of the Canadian Arab Federation, Khaled Mouammar, not only used this term to describe Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, but also used it to describe Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Peter Kent and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
What surprised me the most about this incident is the fact that this wasn’t said in a private conversation, or mistakenly caught by an open microphone. Mouammar spoke these words deliberately and repeatedly while addressing a rally in his official capacity as president of the CAF.
The CAF is made up of more than 40 member organizations and claims as one of its core values the “accurate representation of Arabs in the media, and in all areas of civil society”.
Of course, in Canada, Mouammar has the right to say whatever he wants subject to very, very few limits. Few would seriously question that. However, when he purports to represent not one, but 40 Arab organizations, one would think that he would ensure that when he speaks he does so in the best interests of his community.
On that day, Mouammar behaved in a very “un-Canadian” manner and did the community that he supposedly serves a great disservice
In Canada, we tolerate uncivil speech. However, we do not encourage it because it lives right next door to dangerous speech — the kind that when it gets out of hand, starts to foment hatred, conflict, and even harm.
The world has enough of such places. When Canadians seek a rush, we head to the nearest hockey arena, shovel the driveway, or visit our local Tim Hortons where we can roll up the rim to win. We typically do not seek the kind of drama that Mouammar is peddling.
While behaving badly, Mouammar forgot that his organization receives about $447,000 of taxpayer money to teach immigrants language and job search skills. It is not surprising that the minister is now wondering aloud if the CAF, under the leadership of Mouammar, is the best organization to convey these skills to newcomers to Canada. Mouammar may soon discover that, in Canada, publicly insulting a cabinet minister is not necessarily the best lobbying technique.
Mouammar’s intemperate language should not be the focus of the greatest public concern. It is his apparent tolerance — and promotion — of the interests of known terrorist organizations that should cause public worry.
According to the Canadian Jewish Congress, Mouammar lobbied Ottawa to remove Hezbollah from Canada’s list of terrorist organizations. According to Kenney, the leader of the CAF circulated videos depicting the inculcation of hatred in children by organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Furthermore, according to published reports, the CAF’s anti-Israel demonstrations unabashedly feature people waving the flags of organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, both listed as terrorist organizations.
What is truly frightening is that this is the political fabric of a man who, for years, sat on Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board judging refugee claims. A big part of his job would have been to exclude from protection people who are suspected of being members of terrorist organizations. It shocks me that a person who is capable of acting so injudiciously, who behaves in a manner that is so contrary to the interests of the community that he serves, and who advocates for the interests of organizations that are internationally recognized as terrorist, was appointed to a board entrusted to protect Canadians from the very people he appears to be so sympathetic towards.
Mouammar’s values don’t seem “Canadian” at all to me. He should never have had a seat on our Immigration and Refugee Board. However, whether he deserves the seat of leadership of a Canadian federation of Arab organizations is not for me, but for others, to decide.
Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann, Sandaluk and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an
immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at