• Michael Laxer

Niki Ashton events moving forward despite brouhaha

A Palestinian solidarity event March 7 and an event featuring Jeremy Corbyn March 20 -- both involving Niki Ashton -- are moving ahead in the face of attacks that have been called smears and hypocritical.

Photo via twitter


Earlier this week we reported on how Broadbent Institute Executive Director Rick Smith launched a twitter broadside at former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, NDP MP Niki Ashton and former NDP MP Svend Robinson. Smith called a planned online event featuring Corbyn and Ashton "unfortunate" given accusations of antisemitism that had been directed at Corbyn when he was Labour leader in the UK.


As we noted many rose to the defense of Corbyn pointing out that these accusations had been part of a campaign by the right wing of the Labour Party, the right wing British media and the British right more broadly to undermine him, and that many on the left feel that they have been totally discredited and debunked.


Smith's twitter attack looked like part of a larger campaign against the event -- and possibly Ashton specifically -- when the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and others also denounced it.


The NDP's leader then appeared to throw Ashton under the bus. The Canadian Jewish News reported:


A spokesperson for NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told Postmedia that Ashton never asked the party for permission before agreeing to participate in the virtual conversation, and that the party found out about it shortly before it was posted on social media.
“Jagmeet Singh and New Democrats are committed to fighting anti-Semitism and will continue to push the Liberals to take more concrete actions, like tackling online hate, to combat it,” press secretary Nina Amrov told Postmedia in a statement.

In a statement March 4th Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), however, denounced what they said was:


the brazen attempt by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) to smear NDP MP Niki Ashton in relation to an upcoming online event with former UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn. As an organization representing Canadian progressive Jews from coast to coast, we feel that it is important for Canadians to be able to hear directly from Corbyn and Ashton, who will be speaking on a range of important social justice issues that are close to the hearts of many in this country.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East supported IJV's stance online.

Svend Robinson, who had been a target of the initial Smith tweet called out Singh:

Niki Ashton isn't backing down.


She promoted the event with Corbyn on twitter again just hours before this piece was posted.

Ashton is also scheduled to be involved in an online event March 7 organized by Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights - UBC and ‎Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM)- حركة الشباب الفلسطيني


Canada's Complicity: Policies on Palestine takes place Sunday March 7 at 11am PST/2pm EST/9pm Palestine Time. According to the event's Facebook page:


Join...to learn about Canada's complicity in the Occupation of Palestine through policies, both in Canada and abroad.
We will be joined by Dr Sheryl Nestel from IJV, Palestinian-Canadian lawyer Dianna Buttu, lawyer Dimitri Lascaris and NDP MP Niki Ashton.
We will explore topics such as the adoption of the IHRA definition, silencing of Palestinian activists at home, Canada's relationship with the State of Israel all to show how Canada is explicitly complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people.
We want Canadians to understand that Canada is not innocent and the Occupation is not ‘happening over there’ - Canada is directly, and dangerously - involved.