FSWC Deeply Concerned Over Revelations About New Canadian Human Rights Chief Commissioner’s Anti-Israel Activity

June 26, 2024

News Release

< Back to News Room

Toronto (June 26, 2024) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is calling on the Canadian government to address its latest vetting failure that led to its appointment of a new head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) who has a history of anti-Israel actions.

Media reports reveal that the CHRC’s newly appointed Chief Commissioner, Birju Dattani, participated in a series of anti-Israel activities while living in the UK between 2012-2015. These include attending a protest outside the Israeli embassy in London as well as lecturing at Israel Apartheid Week events and speaking about the BDS movement at a Turkish university while sharing platforms with individuals holding extremist views. He also reportedly shared links on social media to articles comparing Israelis to Nazis and Palestinians to Jewish prisoners in the Holocaust-era Warsaw Ghetto.

“This is yet another shameful example of the Canadian government’s failure to exercise due diligence when hiring someone for an official position,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, FSWC Senior Director of Advocacy and Policy. “The newly appointed Chief Commissioner’s history of anti-Israel activism, which indicates a personal bias, may have serious implications for the Jewish community, especially at a time of rising antisemitism.”

“We are not only concerned about the appointment itself, but more fundamentally, about the process used to select this candidate and the fact that Dattani’s record of participation in anti-Israel and antisemitic activities did not apparently raise any red flags for those responsible for vetting him,” Kirzner-Roberts added. “Canada’s Human Right’s Chief Commissioner is a critical role in our shared fight against racism and discrimination, and the appointment of a commissioner who has devoted himself to antisemitic causes is a profound betrayal of the public’s trust that must be addressed transparently and decisively.”

FSWC has reached out to Minister of Justice and Attorney General Arif Virani to express its concerns and request an immediate investigation into not only Dattani’s activities, but also the government’s vetting failures.

This comes nearly two years after the government suspended anti-racism funding for the organization Community Media Advocacy Centre after learning that its senior consultant, Laith Marouf, had a history of sharing antisemitic posts online. FSWC had raised the alarm over the funding and the government’s failure to properly look into Marouf’s online activity before delivering funding.