Liberal MP Mario Silva has spent much of this current Parliament sitting on the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA). As the inquiry study winds down and moves to the report stage, I caught up with Silva after Question Period today.
Q: Last time we spoke, you were just about to hold the last round of hearings for the inquiry on anti-Semitism. How did that last round go?
A: They were good. The witnesses who came forward were mainly from police services and from law enforcement, and they provided a good perspective of what’s taking place on the ground, and they provided some good recommendations as well. From that, we are working on the report at the moment, and we’re still in the process of working on that report.
Q: When do you expect that report to be?
A: We hope to have that report soon, but it’s taking a lot of time. Plus, we have to take it clause by clause, like every other report, so we have no idea how long that will take but hopefully soon.
Q: There’s been a lot of attention in the past few weeks given the recent campuses having their Israeli-Apartheid Week and whatnot. The debate over what’s being called anti-Semitic and what’s being called legitimate criticism reached another boiling point, and having listened to the various speakers over the course of this study, do you think that feelings are being overblown on both sides?
A: I think that the university debate is one that is needed to be had within the administration as well – there’s academic freedom, which is something that I value quite highly, but at the same time, you have to provide safe environments for students, and there’s certain students who do not feel they’re being safe, that it’s safe to actually go to class, then they have a serious problem that they have to address, so I think the first responsibility of the university is the safety of their students, just like the first priority of the state is the security of their citizens.