According to Yves-Francois Blanchet, “questions arise” about Omar Alghabra, the Mississauga MP recently appointed Transport Minister in the Trudeau cabinet. Surely no one could miss the rich irony in the leader of the Bloc Quebecois – a separatist party intent on dismantling Canada – questioning the suitability of Omar Alghabra to be a federal cabinet minister because – wait for it — he was once the president of the Canadian Arab Federation and holds “extremist views.” Evidently such views – whatever Blanchet believes they may be — are far more dangerous than trying to break up the country.
For the record, Mr. Alghabra came to Canada from Saudi Arabia as a student, earned a degree in engineering at Ryerson and a graduate degree in Business Administration from York University, and then worked in a number of technical posts in Canadian industries before running for public office. His publicly expressed views on multiculturalism, human rights, immigration and Canadian values could only be described as mainstream. Active in community affairs, he served as president of the Canadian Arab Federation in 2004-5. When a successor in that post took more extreme positions after Alghabra left, he publicly criticized the extremist comments and the organization. Active in politics, he was elected the Liberal MP for Mississauga-Erindale in 2006, defeated in 2008, and re-elected in 2015 and 2019. Omar Alghabra is, in fact, the quintessential Canadian immigrant success story.
Why then would M. Blanchet launch this covert attack on Alghabra under the guise of “raising questions”? Could it be that he hopes to re-energize supporters in Quebec who have lost interest in the Bloc during the pandemic, when the Trudeau government has gained positive reviews for its handling of the crisis while the Bloc is eclipsed? Or perhaps because Francois Legault’s star, (to which Blanchet hitched the Bloc’s wagon by its unequivocal support for the premier’s controversial Bill 21 on religious symbols) is fading fast?
Certainly Blanchet’s earlier gambit to resurrect the spectre of the 1970 War Measures Act was an abject failure. Of course the irony of Legault calling for the federal government to send in the army, to deal with the crisis in long-term care homes, only heightened the absurdity of Blanchet’s claim. But his deplorable efforts to re-write the history of the War Measures Act have now been exceeded by his unseemly attack on Mr. Alghabra.
Consider that the primary source of Blanchet’s claims appears to be Ezra Levant,[i] the thoroughly discredited far-right promoter of anti-Muslim attacks through his equally discredited Rebel Media platform.[ii] Consider also the statement of David Cooper, vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, defending Mr. Alghabra. “We are not aware of any substantive or proven links Mr. Alghabra has to Islamist or political extremism. We are of course aware of allegations that amount to charges of guilt by association, but have never seen any substantive evidence that would trigger any concern.”[iii] If M. Blanchet has nothing better to do than try to dredge up anti-Muslim sentiment among voters in Quebec, he surely must feel that he and his party are in real trouble.
[i] Campbell Clark. “The Bloc’s Sneaky Slur Against a Mild-mannered Muslim MP” Globe and Mail. Jan 15, 2021.
[ii] Simon Houpt. “Rebel Media Co-Founder Quits over Group’s Ties to Right-Wing Groups”. Globe and Mail. Aug 14, 2017. See also Bill Graveland. “Law Society Accepts Levant’s Resignation Ahead of Disciplinary Hearing”, Canadian Press, March 2, 2016 and Davide Mastracci “Mainstream media needs to stop platforming Ezra Levant” Canada’s National Observer. September 18th, 2019
[iii] Clark. “The Bloc’s Sneaky Slur.”