Federal public sector union apologizes for president's antisemitic comments

The Canadian Association of Public Employees confirmed that Camille Awada made multiple antisemitic posts on social media ‘in years past’

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OTTAWA – Leadership of the third-largest federal public service union is apologizing for antisemitic statements made by its former president, who resigned Monday after his past social media posts surfaced.

In a statement released late Tuesday evening, the national executive committee of the Canadian Association of Public Employees (CAPE) confirmed that Camille Awada made multiple antisemitic posts on social media “in years past.”

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The statement followed reports that Awada stepped down after a series of antisemitic comments, purportedly from his Facebook account, began circulating among union members.

“CAPE’s National Executive Committee strongly condemns antisemitic statements made by its former president on his personal social media in years past,” reads the statement. 

“The National Executive Committee unequivocally apologizes to any members, staff or the public who are adversely impacted by the statements.”

CAPE represents 23,000 members, including civilian employees of the RCMP, and employees at Statistics Canada and the Library of Parliament.

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Awada became CAPE president seven months ago after the sudden resignation of Greg Phillips, who faced allegations of impropriety. CAPE is currently holding an election to fill a number of executive positions and Awada is running for the presidency.

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CAPE spokespeople have so far refused to answer questions about when they became aware of Awada’s social media posts and whether he is still running for union president.

Wednesday morning, Treasury Board President Anita Anand said she was aware of Awada’s posts and was looking into them.

“Antisemitic comments are unacceptable,” she said all the while noting that it is up to union members to deal with their leadership.

“I need to continue looking into what (Awada) said. I don’t have the exact words now, but I will look for them and decide what to do in these circumstances,” she added in French.

According to screenshots of various posts from Awada’s Facebook provided to National Post, the former CAPE president posted dozens of messages between 2015 and 2019 in which he virulently criticized Zionists and the state of Israel.

“The European Zionists are the true Aryan race. They look down at the world as if we are cattle. Israel is the illegitimate Zionist terrorist apartheid state that is the root of all evil!,” he wrote in 2019.

In another post just days earlier, Awada wrote that the “illegitimate Zionist lunatic terrorist apartheid state” was “showing its true colors.” He finished the message using the hashtag #terrorisrael.

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Another screenshot from 2015 shows Awada shared an article titled “The more you learn about jewish Israelis the more you realise that they are not quite right in the head.”

In 2015 and 2016, Awada also made numerous posts claiming “Zionists” control media outlets, a well-known antisemitic trope and conspiracy theory.

In one post, he wrote that the “psychopathic Zionists apartheid state loves not having media attention, because they control it.”

In another on Facebook post, Awada accused U.S. media outlets such as CNN and Fox News of being “Zionist controlled.” He also shared a video of notorious Black supremacist and antisemite Louis Farrakhan.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Awada also works as “Head of stats crew” for the Canadian Football League in Ottawa. On Facebook, he said he managed a crew of six and his job was “verifying data entry, assigning task, communicating with CFL central, pregame set up. Providing statistical information online and to game day teams. Training, development and operational feedback.”

A spokesperson for the CFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Awada’s social media posts.

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Awada did not respond to requests for comment.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced a “terrifying” rise in antisemitism and islamophobia in Canada.

“Canadians are scared in our own streets right now,” he said. “Molotov cocktails thrown at synagogues. Horrific threats of violence targeting Jewish businesses, targeting Jewish daycares with hate. This needs to stop. This is not who we are as Canadians. This is something that is not acceptable in Canada.”

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