May 20, 2022
OTTAWA – B’nai Brith Canada is concerned about a Member of Parliament’s participation in a divisive mass truancy event.
Chandra Arya, representing Nepean, Ont., praised high-school students through a megaphone after they left their school without permission on May 13.
The demonstration lamented the establishment of Israel and portrayed Jewish self-determination as a disaster while bemoaning Israel’s resilience in the face of adversity following the 1948 United Nations recognition of its independence.
“There are significant ethical and safety issues with an MP addressing an event that encourages children to walk out of their class,” said Marvin Rotrand, B’nai Brith’s National Director of its League for Human Rights. “A video obtained by B’nai Brith shows Arya praising the organizers who encouraged students as young as 13 from several schools across Ottawa to skip classes to take part in demonstrations calling for the obliteration of Israel.”
While the demonstrations attracted only a handful of participants, Arya addressed those in attendance, praising the organizers as part of a new generation of leaders. The links between Arya – who has become one of Parliament’s most notorious Israel-bashers – and the demonstration organizers became evident when Arya admitted that several of the organizers are past and present staff of his parliamentary office.
B’nai Brith alerted the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) to Arya’s involvement in the May 13 rally. B’nai Brith has since learned the OCDSB intends to impose disciplinary measures on students who walked out and is investigating infiltration of its schools by groups using social media to disrupt classes.
“Chandra Arya seems to spend much of his working hours showing up at anti-Israel events,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents registered a record 75 incidents of violence targeting Canadian Jews, much of it fueled by the vile sort of anti-Zionism we saw at this demonstration. Arya is a member of the majority caucus and should know better than to see children used to undermine Canada’s support of Israel and understand this will only stroke the flames of division between students of different backgrounds.”
There have been suggestions that Arya has been involved in other, similar protests.
On Friday, the OCDSB issued a statement that included the following: “The OCDSB reminds students engaged in activism that the right to freedom of expression comes with the obligation to respect other people’s opinions that are different from their own. Typically, when students organize walk-outs or other actions, they move off school property. If a student demonstration or walk-out occurs, classes will continue to operate. As always our teachers strive to create spaces in classrooms where all students feel safe. Students advocating for a cause at school or in a place that may impact on the school climate are subject to our policies and School District Code of Conduct.”
The OCDSB went on to state that students who feel uncomfortable not walking out of class speak “to a trusted adult in the school so that we can work with them to ensure their needs are addressed. This includes providing assurances of safety within the building, identifying a location for them to access well-being supports, and connection with family, as requested.”