The Canadian prime minister appointed a former president of the Canadian Arab Federation, which had lost government funding for allegedly supporting terror organizations, to a senior foreign ministry position.
Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday appointed Member of Parliament and senior adviser Omar Alghabra, a former president of the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The previous Canadian leadership, headed by then-PM Stephen Harper, had banned the CAF from receiving government funding, citing its support of terrorism and anti-Semitism. In 2014, following a CAF appeal, the federal court upheld the government decision.
In 2009, Jason Kenney, then-Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, cut CAF’s $1 million in annual tax dollars – meant to be used for support for new immigrants – saying it was because of the organization’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah and citing specific incidents to back his statement.
In the 2014 federal court decision against CAF, Justice Russel Zinn said that the group “appears to support organizations that Canada has declared to be terrorist organizations and which are arguably anti-Semitic.” In July, the court rejected claims that the government decision was an “abuse of authority” or an attempt to suppress criticism of Israel.
“I have been on public record disagreeing with the approach taken by the current administration of the Canadian Arab Federation,” Alghabra had said, according to the National Post. “At the end of the day, it’s government’s prerogative to make decisions on what to fund and what not to fund.”
Kenney noted, however, that although Alghabra was not at the helm of the CAF in 2009, he “criticized my decision to defund CAF.”
Trudeau, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN conference on climate change several days ago, said he plans to continue his country’s “very strong relationship with Israel” and to work together on issues of concern to both nations.
In what was described as a warm and friendly meeting, Trudeau said it would be his “pleasure” to visit Israel when the opportunity arises.
“We have many issues to talk about, to discuss, but also many issues to collaborate on. And I look forward to continuing the strong friendship that Canada has shown towards Israel for decades and will continue in ongoing times,” Trudeau said.
By Terri Nir, United with Israel