Board member of anti-racism agency fired amid accusations of Islamophobic commentary
By Jennifer Yang
Toronto Star | December 21, 2017
A board member with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, an arms-length federal government agency established to counteract racism, has been fired amid concerns over what Muslim advocacy groups describe as “Islamophobic commentary” and her “public association with purveyors of hateful propaganda.”
Christine Douglass-Williams has been a board member since 2012 and her dismissal was confirmed on Wednesday to foundation chairperson Albert Lo. He said he was notified by the Department of Canadian Heritage, which is responsible for the foundation.
Lo said he was not provided with an explanation for Douglass-Williams’ dismissal. But a government source told the Star she was removed because of comments she has made online which “do not reflect the goal of the foundation.”
“They do not work to eliminate racism or promote inclusion, and that is the mandate of the foundation,” he said. “That’s why her contract has been terminated.”
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“The country’s leading organization dedicated to the elimination of racism and the promotion of harmonious race relations, the Canada Race Relations Foundation, must have a board that recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion in our society,” Simon Ross, a spokesperson for the minister, said in an statement to the Star on Thursday.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims also expressed concerns and sent a formal letter to the government in October. Executive director Ihsaan Gardee said Douglass-Williams’ removal is an “appropriate corrective measure taken by government to address (her) disturbing public record.”
“The removal of Ms. Douglass-Williams is long overdue in light of her known Islamophobic commentary and her public association with purveyors of hateful propaganda, such as Robert Spencer who has long been identified by human rights institutions as a leading figure of the Islamophobia movement in North America,” he said in an emailed statement.