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.”

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