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Kenney ‘vindicated’ by ruling on funding cut

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The Federal Court has ruled federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney was within his rights to stop funding one of Canada’s largest Arab groups over concerns it appeared to support terrorist groups and anti-Semitism.

Justice Russel Zinn’s ruling is the result of a five-year battle between Kenney and the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) that saw the two sides hurling insults and accusations of racism against each other.

Some saw the case as representative of a federal Conservative bias against pro-Palestinian groups in Canada, while others argued it was a clear example of the government standing up to intolerance and extremism.

In his ruling, Zinn said Kenney’s decision as immigration minister in March 2009 not to extend a $1-million-a-year contract with the CAF to deliver language training for newly arrived immigrants was reasonable given what some of its members had said and done in public.

That included distributing an email that targeted then Liberal MP Bob Rae and his wife for their involvement in the Jewish community, organizing rallies that included Hezbollah flags and publishing links to videos showing Hamas operatives training. Hezbollah and Hamas are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and are listed as terrorist groups in Canada.

“All of the statements and actions raised by the Minister can, in my view, reasonably lead one to the view that CAF appears to support organizations that Canada has declared to be terrorist organizations and which are arguably anti-Semitic,” Zinn wrote.

Kenney had argued it was inappropriate to continue providing federal funds to the CAF so it could provide language training to newly arrived immigrants because its apparent support for extremism was contrary to Canadian values.

The organization had argued it did not endorse or approve what the members were saying and doing, and the members were not representing the CAF at the time. But Zinn ruled that “in many cases, this defence ignores the maxim that ‘one is known by the company one keeps.’ ” The CAF had been receiving federal funding to teach new immigrants language skills for 12 years, but Zinn said that alone was not a reason the funding should have been extended. He also threw out the CAF’s argument that Kenney had violated the organization’s freedom of expression on the Israel-Palestine conflict, noting its advocacy has continued and that receiving federal funding for the language-training project is not a right. Kenney said he felt “vindicated” by Zinn’s “insightful” ruling.

“If integration is to mean anything, it must mean in part the rejection of ancient enmities, hatreds and prejudices. And not their reinforcement. So I feel vindicated and I certainly hope we have set a new standard which will be followed in the future.”

Neither the CAF nor its lawyers immediately responded to requests for comment Tuesday.

The federal government formally cut ties with the CAF in March 2010 when a second federally funded program intended to help new immigrants settle in Canada ran its course and was not renewed.

The CAF is only one of a number of pro-Palestinian organizations, including ecumenical group Kairos, Montreal-based Alternatives and Torontobased Palestine House, that have seen long-standing relationships with the federal government come to an end under the Conservatives’ watch.

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  • Published: 10 years ago on January 9, 2014
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  • Last Modified: January 9, 2014 @ 10:48 pm
  • Filed Under: Jews in Canada

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