A report found the Labour party had committed ‘unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination’ involving anti-Semitism during Corbyn’s time as leader
OTTAWA A prominent Canadian Jewish advocacy group says it was shocked to find out that NDP MP Niki Ashton is joining a talk with former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was forced to resign over his handling of a report concluding his party did not take action to prevent anti-Semitism.
It was a mix of shock, disappointment and a bit of revulsion that I felt when I saw that a sitting Member of Parliament would bring would bring virtually to Canada the man who has been known to let a spirit of anti-Semitism pervade his party when he was at the helm of that party, reacted Richard Marceau, vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
He was reacting to an upcoming virtual conversation announced by MP Niki Ashton on social media Thursday between herself and Corbyn on March 20, 2021.
The event is meant to be a discussion on how to build a strong progressive politics, noting the system is broken and that the COVID crisis has shown how many people have paid the price of neoliberal policies.
Instead of a bold progressive vision put forward by leaders like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, we have more of the same political leadership that places profit ahead of people, the event page reads.
We have right-wing parties that engage and promote racist policies that do harm to so many of our communities, or centre right parties that do the same, but with a smile.
- NDP strips MP Niki Ashton from critic roles for taking recent trip to Greece to visit ill family member
- NP View: The NDP MP who’s smitten with dictatorships
In a joint statement with CIJA, the U.K.-based Board of Deputies of British Jews said it was astonished to see Ashtons involvement in the talk with disgraced former leader Corbyn. The absurdity of this is hard to fathom, organization president Marie van der Zyl said.
Rick Smith, head of the Broadbent Institute, a left-wing think-tank bearing the name of former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, also described Ashtons participation as unfortunate on social media.
This is not the sort of person that should headline a progressive fundraiser or occupy the time of Canadian progressive leaders, Smith wrote on Twitter about Corbyn.
Last October, a British human rights watchdog found that the Labour party had committed unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination involving anti-Semitism during the four and a half years Corbyn led the party.
Our investigation has identified serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints across the Labour Party, and we have identified multiple failures in the systems it uses to resolve them, reads the report by the Equality and Human rights Commission.
Our analysis points to a culture within the Party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.
Corbyn was forced to step down from his former partys leadership after saying that the report dramatically overstated the scale of anti-Semitism within the party for political reasons. He later retracted his words and was allowed to reapply for party membership.
A spokesperson for NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said Ashton never asked the party for permission before accepting to participate in the virtual conversation, and that they only found out shortly before it was posted on social media.
Jagmeet Singh and New Democrats are committed to fighting anti-Semitism and will continue to push the Liberals to take more concrete actions, like tackling online hate, to combat it, Press Secretary Nina Amrov said in a statement.
This is not the sort of person that should headline a progressive fundraiser
In a separate written statement, Ashton defended her participation in the talk by insisting that it would focus on current events and touting the fact that Corbyn has fought for peace and justice and against racism of all forms, throughout his life.
It does not make any mention of Corbyns past involving anti-Semitism within his former party.
This is not the first time Ashton is at the centre of controversy surrounding an event she attends.
In November, the Manitoba MP drew fire for speaking at an event titled Free Meng, which argued for the release of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive currently under house arrest in Vancouver, pending extradition to the United States.
The event description noted that the telecom executive was unjustly incarcerated for the previous two years, but made no note of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
Both men were arbitrarily detained by China more than two years ago in what many see as retaliation to Wanzhous arrest.
At the time, the NDP took a step back from Ashton, noting the position advanced by these organizations is not the partys position.
Email: email@example.com | Twitter: ChrisGNardi