OTTAWA – The head of the third-largest federal public service union resigned suddenly Monday, reportedly after a series of antisemitic social media posts allegedly written by him began circulating among members.
In a terse statement posted on its website Tuesday, the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) announced that its president, Camille Awada, resigned from the top job on Monday. The union represents 23,000 members, including civilian employees of the RCMP, and employees at Statistics Canada and in the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s department.
The statement made no mention of the reason for Awada’s resignation, but Le Droit newspaper reported Tuesday that the it happened after antisemitic social media posts dating back to 2018 and 2019 began circulating amongst union membership.
“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!,” Awada published on Facebook in January 2019, according to a screenshot obtained by Le Droit.
His post was accompanied by a Forbes article on a report, several years old, on a scandal over certain African immigrants to Israel being involuntarily given birth control.
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.
The messages reportedly began circulating recently as war rages between Israel and Hamas after Hamas terrorists launched a deadly attack against Israel on Oct. 7.
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Awada did not immediately respond to a request for a comment sent to his LinkedIn account.
In its statement, CAPE said vice-president Scott Crawford would take over the presidency of the union.
“CAPE management and the President will ensure a smooth transition and CAPE’s work for its members will continue as planned,” reads the statement.
Union representatives did not immediately respond to questions about when they were informed about Awada’s social media posts and if they are linked to his resignation.
Awada’s resignation comes as CAPE is in the midst of selecting a new president. Awada had taken over after former president Greg Phillips resigned earlier this year followed by allegations of impropreity.
Police across Canada have reported concerning rises in antisemitic incidents since the war between Israel and Hamas began last month. On Tuesday, Montreal police confirmed they were investigating the firebombing of a Jewish synagogue and community centre.
This is not the first time a leader of a major public service employee has found themselves in hot water for posting or supporting antisemitic messages.
CUPE Ontario’s president Fred Hahn faced widespread condemnation for a social media post praising the massacre and kidnapping of Israelis on Oct. 7 as “the power of resistance.”
On Monday, National Post reported that Jewish members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) filed a human rights claim against their union alleging discrimination and antisemitism.
Although triggered by social media posts by Hahn and a CUPE local after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, the complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by about 25 Jewish members of CUPE alleges antisemitic incidents spanning at least five years by Canada’s largest labour union.
“The respondents have collectively engaged in systemic discrimination against the complainants by promoting and engaging in antisemitism,” says the complaint, filed Monday.
“This has caused the complainants to feel isolated, unwelcome, scared, silenced, discriminated against, threatened and harassed.”
— With additional reporting by Adrian Humphreys.
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