Politics

Tory senator pokes holes in Khalid's claim she didn't know constituent was alleged anti-Semite

Conservative Sen. Linda Frum says she isn't satisfied with Liberal MP Iqra Khalid's apology for giving an award to an alleged anti-Semite — saying Khalid's professed ignorance of the man's association with anti-Jewish causes is disingenuous given she's called him her "rock" and "brother" in the past.

Liberal MP has twice given awards to Amin El-Maoued, despite warnings of his ties to anti-Jewish causes

Liberal Ontario MP Iqra Khalid, right, says "anti-Semitism has no place in Canadian society." Conservative Ontario Sen. Linda Frum says the MP's association with Amin El Maoued, left, a man who has been accused of spreading anti-Semitic sentiments, is troubling. (Amin El Maoued/Facebook)

Conservative Sen. Linda Frum says she isn't satisfied with Liberal MP Iqra Khalid's apology for giving an award to an alleged anti-Semite — saying Khalid's professed ignorance of the man's association with anti-Jewish causes is disingenuous given she's called him her "rock" and "brother" in the past.

Khalid has been chided in the past for her association with Amin El-Maoued — a man who has been accused of spreading anti-Semitic statements — and yet she still chose to award him a certificate of recognition last week, Frum said.

Khalid found herself in hot water this week after B'nai Brith, a Jewish advocacy group, flagged Khalid's decision to give an award to El-Maoued. This is the second known recognition the Mississauga MP has bestowed on the man who is the public relations chief for Palestine House, a self-described educational and cultural centre in Mississauga, Ont.

B'nai Brith alleges El-Maoued led a July 2017 rally "laden with hate-filled and anti-Semitic slogans," where children uttered statements such as "Israel and Hitler are the same."

As a result, Khalid was forced to rescind the award — which she said was given to honour El-Maoued's volunteer work — and apologized Thursday.

"Anti-Semitism has no place in Canadian society. It's against the work I have done as an MP to promote diversity and inclusion," she said.

Khalid added that she was "not aware of some of Amin El-Maoued's past views — and only he can speak to them — but we all must stand against anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its forms."

This concept that this is all news to her is just ridiculous.- Conservative Ontario Sen. Linda Frum

Frum said it defies logic for Khalid to claim she only became aware of El-Maoued's beliefs Thursday, given past warnings to her from Conservatives about his questionable affiliations.

"Isn't that convenient?" Frum said in an interview with CBC News.

"Yesterday, all of a sudden, she's become very enlightened about the extremism of her friend. Up 'til now she's been quite unrepentant about her affiliations with extremism," she said, referring to a tweet Khalid sent earlier this year saying she meets with a diverse range of constituents and she's "deeply proud of the work."

Conservative Sen. Linda Frum says Khalid's statement that she just learned of El-Maoued's beliefs Thursday is 'convenient.' (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

​At an event in April, Khalid presented El-Maoued with a separate award and, according to a Facebook video that has since been removed, described him as her "rock" and a "strong ally for myself, for the Palestinian community within Mississauga."

"Today, on behalf of myself and the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, I want to recognize the great work that brother Amin has done for us and for Mississauga-Erin Mills. Thank you," Khalid said.

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, second from left, poses with Amin El-Maoued, the public relations chief of Palestine House, at an event in April. Khalid faced online criticism for calling El-Maoued her 'rock' and giving him an award. (Facebook)

Thanking Khalid, El-Maoued promised to work with her "for the next federal election in 2019."

​"It's absurd for (her) to suggest she's not aware of the political positions of El-Maoued," Frum said. "This concept that this is all news to her is just ridiculous."

Khalid faced criticism for her associations with El-Maoued back in April as well, but defended her presence at the event, saying it's the job of a member of Parliament to engage with "a diverse array of individuals, stakeholders and groups in my community — many of them I don't agree with."

According to her statement Thursday, Khalid did not question El-Maoued on his views on "international affairs" back in April, even after facing an online backlash — and yet she presented him a certificate of appreciation last week. Khalid said it was recognition for his help with a community barbecue.

"She is on the record as speaking about El-Maoued as a very strong supporter of hers, a 'rock,' and a 'brother,' so that's more than just a constituent," Frum said. "This is someone with (whom) she has a very close allegiance and alliance and vice versa and he's proud of his close association with her."

Frum flagged another post El-Maoued put on his Facebook page earlier this year thanking Khalid for inviting him to her home — where he was presented with a birthday cake — as evidence of their association.

A video contained in the Facebook posting shows the two gathered with others, singing and clapping.

B'nai Brith, which first flagged Khalid's association with El-Maoued, welcomed her apology Friday — but the group's leader, Michael Mostyn, said it was it troubled by the idea of "elected officials lauding community members who attempt to divide society."

"It is very disappointing that MP Khalid didn't appreciate the negative impact her close association with El-Maoued would have on Canadians," Mostyn said.

CBC News has reached out to Khalid for fresh comment but hasn't heard back from her yet.

About the Author

John Paul Tasker

Parliamentary Bureau

John Paul (J.P.) Tasker is a reporter in the CBC's Parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

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