Minister called 'professional whore' Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is poised to slash federal funding to Canada's largest Arabic group after its president called him a "professional whore" for supporting Israel.
In an exclusive interview with Sun Media from London, England, where he is to speak today at an international conference on anti-Semitism, Kenney said groups are free within legal bounds to say what they like. But groups whose leaders say intolerant or hateful things shouldn’t get taxpayer funding.
"We should not be rewarding those who express views that are contrary to Canada’s best liberal values of tolerance and mutual respect."
One of those groups, said Kenney, is the Canadian Arab Federation whose president Khaled Mouammar called him a "professional whore" after Kenney criticized the presence of Hezbollah and Hamas flags at anti-Israel rallies in Toronto.
Kenney said the same group criticized Liberal MP Bob Rae because of his wife’s involvement in Canada’s Jewish community.
The federation received a $447,297 contribution from Kenney’s department to operate a settlement program in Toronto for two years, teaching new immigrants language and job searching skills.
HELP FOR NEWCOMERS
Kenney said he has already asked department officials to weigh comments made by groups when evaluating funding applications, and the comments made by the Arab Federation president will affect its contribution when the current one expires in March 2010.
Mouammar, however, says that Kenney’s decision will hurt newcomers to Canada, not just Arabs. Arabs make up only 5% of those who receive his group’s settlement services, which Mouammar said were among the best in the Toronto area. Mouammar said Kenney’s decision is "vindictive" and accused him of promoting Islamophobia internationally.
"This government is anti-Arab and anti-Muslim," he said, adding the federal government has refused to meet with the Canadian Arab Federation or the Canadian Islamic Congress since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power.
In the interview and in his speech, Kenney was also critical of the Canadian Islamic Congress, saying its former president Mohamed Elmasry once tried to "legitimize the killing of all Israeli adults."
Wahida Valiante, who succeed Elmasry as president of the CIC — which doesn’t get government funding — said Kenney misrepresented Elmasry’s comments on the world stage.
Kenney’s comments come as he is attending the meeting of the International Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism. Kenney said the theme emerging from the meeting is the new and growing anti-Semitism around the world in the form of anti-Zionism.