It is time to accept Mrs Elghawabys apology

It is time to accept Mrs Elghawaby’s apology

An eventful week on the front line of mutual understanding is drawing to a close. After trying to rationalize her generalizations about Quebecers, Ms Elghawaby offered a sincere apology.

In preparation for the 2015 election campaign, when I was chairman of the NDP, our organizers had prepared a series of meetings with different constituencies from across Canada.

One such meeting took place in a Toronto suburb with a dozen young representatives of cultural communities.

In the middle of the discussion, one participant exclaimed, “Yes, but Quebecers are more racist…”.

I took a deep breath and asked him a simple question: “Don’t you think that your claim inherently prejudices eight million people?” ยป

She’d taken a moment to respond and told me that while you can’t both fight prejudice and make such generalizations. Our meeting ended well and I think everyone learned a little bit that day.

For my part, despite my astonishment, I had learned that for some it was an established fact that Quebecers would be less tolerant than other Canadians.

A crucial week

Remember that Amira Elghawaby has been given a special mandate on a matter of the utmost importance.

Quebec attorney Irwin Cotler was given a similar responsibility in the anti-Semitism file. Today, Jews continue to be the target of the most hateful acts in Canada.

Ms Elghawaby had to work with her fellow believers, of course, but more generally with society as a whole, to fight this scourge of hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

The problem is that in the past she has made comments that are generalizations about Quebecers. Not against a law. Not against a government, but against the people it has lumped together.

That’s called prejudice and it’s unacceptable for someone who has to fight against… prejudice.


After she tried to justify her comments by citing a poll, many voices, including mine, said her appointment was a mistake.

On Tuesday, Justin Trudeau said he supports Ms Elghawaby “100%”.

The next day, he said he had no idea about all of her previous statements at the time of her appointment and made it clear that he would not have named her had he known.

On the sidelines of her meeting with the bloc leader, Amira Elghawaby decided to make a genuine apology, which I think is very sincere.

She didn’t attempt an “I’m sorry if…” evasive maneuver.

She apologized very briefly. A moment of grace in a very difficult case that left many people feeling hurt.

She even explained that while her role is to fight against stereotypes, she herself used stereotypes. This is clear and indicates a true understanding of the problem.

In my opinion, we must now accept these excuses and give both sides the opportunity for dialogue without judgement.

Who is Gaston Miron