The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Muslim group demands apology from Harper, chief spokesman over comment

  • Print
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications Jason MacDonald speaks in Ottawa on Nov. 20, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Enlarge Image

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications Jason MacDonald speaks in Ottawa on Nov. 20, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - A major Canadian Muslim group is demanding an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his chief spokesman for a comment it says linked the organization to a terrorist group.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has filed a notice of libel in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that accuses Jason MacDonald of acting maliciously when he made the comment earlier this month.

The council had criticized the inclusion of a controversial rabbi in Harper's delegation that went to the Middle East last week.

"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,'" Ihsaan Gardee, the council's executive director, told a news conference Tuesday.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. NCCM will not let the PMO's false statement stand."

The council says MacDonald's comment was a deliberate attempt to discredit the group and Harper is responsible for the words uttered by his spokesman.

The libel notice is the first step in what could become a formal lawsuit.

The Prime Minister's Office responded tersely: "As this matter may be the subject of litigation, we have no further comment."

Further legal action is possible, said Nader Hassan, lawyer for the council.

"Whether we go through with the lawsuit is going to depend on a number of factors, namely the quality, timing and content of the public apology and retraction," he said.

Gardee said MacDonald's comment was "categorically false, offensive and defamatory."

The libel notice said MacDonald's statement was unwarranted.

"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," it said.

"Mr. MacDonald simply made up that statement in an effort to discredit NCCM and deflect its criticism of Mr. Harper."

The council describes itself as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit group which has worked for 14 years on human rights and civil liberties issues on behalf of Canadian Muslims.

A half-dozen other rights groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of University Teachers, have offered support to the Muslim group.

Farhat Rehman of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women said more than just the council was impacted by the remark.

"This defamation endangers the very valuable work of NCCM and goes against every Canadian democratic principle," she said.

"Further, it exposes the members of NCCM and the whole Muslim community to suspicion, hatred and bigotry."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

In the Key of Bart: Peladeau-Re-Mi

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A golfer looks for his ball in a water trap at John Blumberg Golf Course Friday afternoon as geese and goslings run for safety- See Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge- Day 24– June 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Someone or thing is taking advantage of the inactivity at Kapyong Barracks,hundreds of Canada Geese-See Joe Bryksa’s goose a day for 30 days challenge- Day 15- May 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Manitoba needs stronger regulations for temporary workers?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google