FIRST READING: The Montreal 'systemic discrimination' watchdog who seems strangely fine with discrimination

Bochra Manaï remained silent about rising antisemitic incidents, while attending rallies organized by pro-extremism groups

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When the City of Montreal inaugurated Bochra Manaï as its first-ever “anti-racism” commissioner in 2021, controversy immediately swirled over the fact that Manaï had once denounced Quebec as an inspiration for the world’s white supremacists.

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While working as a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Manaï said in French that “Quebec has become a model for supremacist extremists around the world.” The comments were in reaction to the passage of Bill 21, the Quebec law banning government workers from wearing religious garb while on duty.

Quebec Premier François Legault called Manaï’s nomination an “error.” Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon accused Montreal of using public funds to impose a “divisive” ideology.

But that first controversy pales in comparison to the last six weeks.

As Montreal has become the Canadian epicentre of a spike in antisemitic threats and firebombings, Manaï hasn’t only been strangely quiet – she’s even openly attended at least one anti-Israel rally organized by a group that supports extremism.

Manaï posted pictures of herself in the crowd at a rally where radical Imam Adil Charkaoui led a crowd of hundreds in prayer for the death of “Zionist aggressors.” The rally itself had been organized and promoted by the Palestinian Youth Movement, a group that has been overt in its celebration of the Oct. 7 massacres.

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Le Devoir categorized multiple Instagram posts from Manaï promoting other Palestinian Youth Movement rallies, all while calling for a ceasefire and circulating posts accusing Israel of genocide – including comparing the Gaza conflict to the genocide in Rwanda.

To all this, Manaï said in a Nov. 14 op-ed that she had a “humanitarian duty” to take these stances “for peace.” Without specifically mentioning either the Oct. 7 massacres or the firebombings on Jewish locations in Montreal, she wrote “the Islamophobic and antisemitic acts that have occurred in Montreal over these last weeks are all unacceptable.”

The behaviour has prompted a public dressing-down from Manaï’s boss, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, whose office said it had informed Manaï that she had breached the “duty of discretion” required of a city employee.

And a growing chorus of Jewish groups say they’re no longer comfortable with Manaï being the official charged with rooting out “systemic discrimination” from city departments.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs called for her resignation in mid-November, saying they had no confidence in her after “weeks of inexcusable and disqualifying behaviour.”

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And just this week, the Jewish Community Council – which recently had its offices hit by a petrol bomb – said Manaï does “not have the credibility or the moral fibre to do the job.”

“There’s no question in my mind that (Manaï) has to be replaced,” said former NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in an appearance on Montreal’s CJAD radio station. He added that Plante would need to fire her, since it was obvious Manaï didn’t appear willing to resign on her own.

It’s far from the first time that a Canadian “anti-racist” figure has been found flirting with extremist sentiments — particularly when it comes to Jews or the State of Israel.

Professors and coordinators on Canadian university campuses specializing in “anti-racism” have been at the forefront of issuing statements or petitions that excuse or even celebrate the Oct. 7 massacres as an act of decolonial “resistance.”

And it was only last year that it became a miniature national scandal that the Trudeau government had given more than $500,000 in anti-racism grants to Laith Marouf, an activist with a lengthy history of extremist rhetoric – including at the mandatory anti-racism seminars he was being paid to coordinate.

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Just last month, Marouf made a brief return to social media to assail Canadian public figures with threats that he intended to make them the target of “Zionist-Hunter squads.”

“Go drink the sea of Gaza you little Zionist b—h,” Marouf wrote in a Nov. 5 post on X that was directed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Anti-racism is a U.S.-imported ideology holding that Canada and other Western nations are irredeemably shot through with systemic racism. As a result — according to federal literature on the topic — the only remedy is a complete reworking of Canada’s existing systems in order to install “deliberate systems and supports” that favour “equity-seeking groups.”


It was a scandal in May when notorious serial killer Paul Bernardo was transferred to a medium security “campus” in Quebec with much nicer conditions than his previous home at a maximum security facility in Ontario. But according to a Parliamentary order paper, most of Canada’s more heinous criminals are in medium-security facilities. There are currently about 736 dangerous offenders in federal custody – a rare designation given only to criminals deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to public safety. But only 99 of those are in maximum-security jails. A total of 580 are in medium-security, and 57 are in minimum-security facilities where escape can be as easy as walking around a fence.

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Catherine Tait and Adrienne Arsenault
CBC just announced they are laying off 600 employees and will extinguish another 200 open positions – leading to the awkward exchange above in which CBC president Catherine Tait refuses to say whether top management is still going to receive tens of millions of dollars in bonuses this year. The interviewer is CEO host Adrienne Arsenault, who asks her boss “can we establish that (bonuses) are not happening?” To which Tait replies “it’s too early to say.” Arsenault was referencing a report from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation finding that the broadcaster paid out $16 million in bonuses in 2022. Photo by CBC screenshot

Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan has lately been in the business of issuing broad declarations that are definitely not the actions of someone angling for a Liberal leadership post that may soon be vacant. His latest effort, which came in the form of a speech to the Empire Club of Canada, declared that one of the most pressing issues facing Canada today is … COVID-19. “We will not be able to tackle any of the massive challenges that confront us as a country until we face one simple fact. We’re not over COVID,” he said.

Pierre Poilievre in Question Period
In a sign of just how much Canadian politics is now influenced by social media, a significant chunk of Question Period on Tuesday was taken up by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre boasting about his “brilliant” and “much acclaimed” documentary about the Canadian housing crisis, and asking the prime minister why he wasn’t among its four million viewers. Trudeau said the video was “misinformation and disinformation,” to which Poilievre said he would try to get the prime minister an abbreviated version on TikTok so that he didn’t have to sit through the whole 15 minutes. Photo by Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

A petition tabled by Conservative MP Michelle Ferreri calling for an immediate snap election now has 170,000 signatures. That’s one of Canada’s more heavily signed petitions this year, but it’s still a vanishingly small number of people when you consider the usual numbers that decide Canadian elections. That’s fewer people than just two federal electoral districts … and Canada currently has 338 of those.

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