OTTAWA — The Department of Canadian Heritage has taken legal action in order to recoup funds it doled out to a consultant accused of posting antisemitic material online, deputy minister Isabelle Mondou said Thursday.
The federal government terminated a contract last year with the Community Media Advocacy Centre after it granted the group more than $122,000 for projects to help combat anti-racism.
Ottawa demanded the money back after Laith Marouf, a senior consultant with the centre, was accused of posting antisemitic content on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The matter is now before the courts, Mondou told a hearing of the House of Commons committee on Canadian Heritage. The department has also hired a collection agency and enlisted the help of the Canada Revenue Agency to help get the money back, she added.
"We made a request with the Canada Revenue Agency that as soon as money is received at the Canada Revenue Agency from that organization, that it will be transferred to us," Mondou said.
"There is a procedure in court that has been filed. That's for the recovery."
The department has not provided additional details of the court action. Marouf did not immediately respond to media inquiries Thursday.
At the time his contract was terminated last fall, Marouf's lawyer, Stephen Ellis, made a distinction at the time between his client's posts about Jews in general and people Marouf described as "Jewish white supremacists."
Marouf harbours no animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group, Ellis said.
Marouf's social media posts were flagged to Canadian Heritage last July by Liberal MP Anthony Housefather.
One read: "You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, a.k.a. the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of thier (sic) Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters."
The department has since made changes to how it vets funding requests for community and anti-racism projects. It now requires contractors to promise in writing that they won't discriminate or promote hate.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023.
Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press