Political Confusion Among Liberal Ranks in Montreal

di Joe Volpe del 31 August 2019

TORONTO - What’s going on?

Barely one week after rejecting the candidacy of Eva Nassif, the sitting MP in the Montreal riding of Vimy (Laval), the Liberal Party in Quebec has now revoked the candidacy of Imam Hassan Guillet, their candidate in St Leonard-Saint Michel, another Montreal riding.

That excommunication happened yesterday, August 30, after the B’nai B’rith, a Jewish advocacy group publish several ant-Semitic, ant-Israel and inflammatory statements attributed to the Imam. Michael Mostyn, President of the organization in a press release on B’nai B’rith letterhead called for his removal.

Mr. Mostyn is a former Conservative Party activist and Candidate from Toronto. The organization he leads at one time rivaled the now-extinct Canadian Jewish Congress for the hearts of Canada’s Jewish constituency and for the attention of the general public as the premier spokes-agency of the Diaspora in Canada.

They have been eclipsed by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Centre for Israeli and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the United Jewish Appeal.

Earlier this Spring, amid much fanfare, Imam Hassan Gullet had been declared the victor of a hotly contested nomination for the riding with the highest concentration of Canadians of Italian origin. In fact, 9.5% of its residents still claim Italian as the language of daily use.

St Leonard-St Michel is a rock-solid Liberal riding. Voting projections published on the Canada 338 website put the Liberals a full 50 percentage points ahead of their next closet rivals.

In the Spring, much had been made of Gullet’s Muslim faith, his activism and the open support that he had received organizationally by fellow Muslim, Ahmed Hussen, Minister for Refugees, Citizenship and Immigration from Toronto.

Mister Hussen represents a constituency, York South Weston, where the Italian Canadian community is numerous enough to sway the outcome of the next, election. Under his leadership, the Department of Refugees and Immigration has put up roadblocks to immigration from Italy.

Shortly after the nomination, Hassan Guillet accepted an invitation to speak at a synagogue in Toronto, as part of a strategy designed to show that, as an activist Muslim, he posed no threat to Canada’s Jewish Diaspora.

There may some issues related to how the “Green Light Committee” approved of Mister Hassan Guillet’s candidacy in the first place. Pablo Rodriguez, Minister for Canadian Heritage, is the Campaign Chair for Quebec and political ally of his colleague Ahmed Hussen, has the responsibility for the approval of candidates.

It remains to be seen how he will handle the potential interest of the frustrated Italian candidates that will surely re-emerge now that the vacancy has occurred. He could declare “an electoral emergency” and appoint someone – it being mere days before the calling of an election – or rush to a nomination meeting with the candidates from the last process or declare the second placed candidate as victor.

Five-point four percent (5.4%) of the population in his riding, Honore’- Mercier, claim Italian as language used in the home.

At time of writing, we h ad not yet reached Mr. Rodriguez or the former candidates, Francesco Cavaleri and Patricia Lattanzio. We will follow up for tomorrow’s edition.

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