THE National Council of Canadian Muslims has filed a notice of libel in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that accuses Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Director of Communications Jason MacDonald of acting maliciously when he linked the council to the militant Hamas group of Palestine because it questioned the inclusion of a controversial rabbi in the delegation that accompanied Harper to the Middle East.
Ihsaan Gardee, the council’s executive director, told the media on Tuesday: “Rather than responding to our legitimate concerns, the PMO’s director of communications attacked us and attempted to smear our name by claiming NCCM had ‘documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas. Nothing could be further from the truth. NCCM will not let the PMO’s false statement stand.”
The Prime Minister’s Office said it couldn’t comment because the matter may be the subject of litigation.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of University Teachers and others are supporting the council.
The notice of libel states: “The Defamatory Publication contained the following defamatory statement by Mr. MacDonald:
“We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas. (the “Defamatory Words”)
“The Defamatory Words referred directly to NCCM. They were uttered in direct response to a question concerning NCCM’s criticism of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to include Rabbi Daniel Korobkin as part of the Prime Minister’s official delegation on his trip to the Middle East. NCCM’s criticism arose from Rabbi Korobkin’s association with Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, whose group, Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), has been designated as a hate group by respected civil liberties monitoring groups, such as Southern Poverty Law Centre and the Anti-Defamation League.
“The Defamatory Words were meant or were understood to mean that NCCM is, gives material support to, and/or is affiliated with a criminal or terrorist organization. These words are defamatory per se. The Government of Canada has designated Hamas as a Listed Terrorist Entity. The Defamatory Words were stated maliciously in order to discredit and insult an organization that did nothing other than exercise its constitutional right to freedom of expression to criticize a decision made by the Prime Minister.
“As a result of the publication of the Defamatory Words, NCCM has suffered damage. NCCM is a federally incorporated, independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization working for over 14 years in the areas of human rights and civil liberties, media relations and public advocacy on behalf of Canadian Muslims. The Defamatory Words were stated to discredit NCCM’s reputation and undermine its ability to do its work.”
MEANWHILE, Official Opposition Multiculturalism Critic Andrew Cash (NDP) said: “On behalf of the NDP and our Leader Tom Mulcair, I would like to express serious concern regarding the comments made by the Prime Minister’s Office addressing the National Council of Canadian Muslims.
“Muslim Canadians have made innumerable contributions to Canada, enriching our collective cultural heritage and continuing to strengthen our society.
“The comments made by the Prime Minister’s Office are the type of smear tactic that have come to define the Conservative reaction to critics. It’s offensive and divisive.
“Unfortunately, many groups and individuals who have criticized Conservative policies have faced unsubstantiated attacks, including scientists, environmental groups and other minority religious communities.
“As the Official Opposition Critic for Multiculturalism, I wish to express my concern regarding such belligerent remarks. I urge the Prime Minister’s Office to apologize and end any further divisive and irresponsible commentary targeting organizations representing Canada’s diverse communities.”
Notice of Libel: