Liberal Mario Silva has spent the fall sitting chairing the inquiry panel of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA). While the hearings will continue into the New Year, I caught up with Silva after Question Period today to inquire as to the progress of the hearings.
Q: Your inquiry – how’s that been proceeding?
A: It’s going really well. We had some compelling testimony both on Monday and Tuesday, specifically from the law enforcement side. We had Commissioner Julian Fantino from Ontario, we had the police chief of both Toronto and the deputy chief from Calgary, and we’ve had representatives from the Ottawa police force. It’s actually quite compelling testimony about acts of anti-Semitism, violent acts towards Jewish centres, and so it was very well attended. Certainly it was disturbing to hear the testimonies, but at the same time, in many ways, it lets me get the assurance is what we’re doing is the right thing is having a public inquiry like this one that deals with anti-Semitism in Canada.
Q: The release that your committee had put out talked about contradiction in the testimony. Can you elaborate on that a little more?
A: What we’re saying is that people are talking about differing degrees of anti-Semitism throughout the country and throughout the world as well. I think there were some issues about campus anti-Semitism that we had some conflicting views, but we have also heard from the police chiefs for example, who are telling us that they can’t go onto campuses because it’s private property, to investigate as well as arrest people who might be causing problems, but certainly some universities downplayed it while others certainly were quite frank about what’s taking place on the ground. When I said contradictory, I meant it was more specifically in those cases where there were those who believe, and also students who’ve made statements to the fact that they were quite concerned for their safety, and quite concerned about what takes place during Israel Apartheid weeks, and what the implication of that implies. One of the reasons we want to invite more university presidents to have a future forum to deal with this issue because it is one that we are clearly concerned about.
Q: What are you getting up to over the winter break?
A: Well, I’m spending it with my partner Martin, and our dog Custard. We’ll be doing some family activities, and then we’ll see in the New Year – we’re going to go somewhere south and warm.