‘Israeli apartheid’ complaint dismissed
September 19, 2012 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
TORONTO - Martin Gladstone’s complaint against Uzma Shakir, director of equity, diversity and human rights for the City of Toronto, has been dismissed, so he is taking it to the next level.
Gladstone had asked the city to fire Shakir for alleged bias after a report, which she helped prepare, found that the phrase ‘Israeli apartheid’ did not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy (see Activist wants city to fire author of ‘Israeli apartheid’ report, Jewish Tribune, Aug. 14).
Brenda Patterson, deputy city manager, investigated Gladstone’s complaint and informed him of her decision in a letter dated Sept. 7.
“I find no basis for your complaint against Shakir,” wrote Patterson. “I have concluded that Shakir did not use the report to present her personal views and have advised the city manager that no further action is necessary with respect to your complaint.”
Patterson noted that the first version of the report, written before Shakir was hired by the city, had already concluded “that the phrase Israeli Apartheid was not a violation of the city’s policy.”
Patterson’s response, Gladstone told the Jewish Tribune, “ignores everything that’s been raised” in his complaint. “I was always skeptical [of the complaints process] because they investigate themselves.... The complaint to the city manager is the first level and then if you’re not happy it goes to the Ombudsman and that’s what’s going to happen next.”
A reworking of the city’s anti-discrimination policy, which Shakir was also involved in, was considered by the executive committee on Sept. 10 and sent back to the drawing board. Among other things, the executive committee has suggested that funding for next year’s Pride Toronto be withheld if Pride permits the phrase ‘Israeli apartheid’ to be used as part of its event.
It was not known at press time whether Shakir would be involved in preparing the next draft of the anti-discrimination policy. Neither Shakir nor Patterson were available for comment before the Tribune’s deadline.
“Hopefully, the fact that we’ve shone a light on the author of the previous report that was so flawed [means] they won’t screw up again,” said Gladstone. “The whole idea is we want them to get it right. I want them to enforce the anti-discrimination code, [which] already says you can’t discriminate on place of origin or nationality or ethnic origin.”