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Exposed: Tax Court of Canada Discriminated Against Jewish Justice, Preventing Him From Hearing Cases Involving Muslims

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Canadian flag. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Tax Court of Canada has been exposed as attempting to prevent a Jewish judge from presiding over cases involving Muslims due to the judge’s actions in a different case regarding the possible hiring of a virulently anti-Israel academic at the University of Toronto.

According to The Globe and Mail, Tax Court Justice David Spiro was discriminated against in this fashion while under investigation by the Canadian Judicial Council over several complaints.

At the time, Tax Court Chief Justice Eugene Rossiter wrote to the Council saying that Spiro would not adjudicate any case involving a Muslim.

The Council ultimately cleared Spiro, saying he made mistakes but that removal was not justified.

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The complaints were made as part of a retaliatory campaign following the University of Toronto’s decision not to hire Valentina Azarova to head the university law school’s International Human Rights Program.

Azarova’s prospective hiring met with objections regarding her hatred of Israel and indirect ties to a Palestinian terrorist group. Critics noted that 90% of her academic work was on the Palestinian issue, with a stridently anti-Israel bias.

In addition, critics charged that Azarova had terrorist connections, having worked for the organization al-Haq, which has extensive links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government.

According to a letter Spiro wrote to the Council, while Azarova was under consideration, he had asked a university official to ensure that the law school properly examine her work and be prepared for the controversy that might ensue.

In August of this year, B’nai Brith Canada implored several Canadian government agencies to deny a work permit to Azarova and noted the emergence of antisemitic conspiracies regarding the university’s decision not to hire her.

Despite an independent review of Azarova’s hiring decision in March determining that the university had made its decision because she was ineligible for a work visa, “many opponents continue to fantasize about reality and charge that the real reason for refusal of the recommendation of the search committee was an antisemitic conspiracy: Jewish power, influence and money,” B’nai Brith said at the time.

After the choice not to hire Azarova, the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association retaliated with an attempt to damage Spiro’s reputation and livelihood by complaining that his impartiality was in question, the Globe and Mail said.

Chief Justice Rossiter then wrote to the Council saying, “The Tax Court has taken the initiative, for perception purposes, of having all files that have been assigned to Justice Spiro … reviewed by the Associate Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada to ensure that, to the best of the Associate Chief Justice’s assessment … no files upon which he will adjudicate will have, as parties or agents or counsel, anyone who could be thought of as being of Muslim, or of the Islamic faith.”

Sophie Matte, a Tax Court spokeswoman, told the Globe and Mail that “the Tax Court of Canada wishes to reiterate its commitment to impartiality to all litigants who appear before the Court and to the Canadian public.”

Mohammad Fadel, a professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of law, criticized the discrimination against Spiro, saying, “It’s not some idea that there is particular religious animus between Jews and Muslims or Muslims and Jews. Reducing it to some kind of stereotypical ancient religious conflict is very disturbing, and I think it just reinforces casual Islamophobia and casual antisemitism, for that matter.”

“It suggests … that it’s not unreasonable for Muslims to believe that a Jewish judge would be biased against them,” he said.

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