Opinion: My advocacy: media, politics, religion and Patrick Brown – National Post

Publishing date:

May 07, 2022  •  4 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •  6 Comments

Patrick Brown announces his candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada at a rally in Brampton, Ont., on March 13, 2022.
Patrick Brown announces his candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada at a rally in Brampton, Ont., on March 13, 2022. Photo by Chris Young / The Canadian Press

By Paul Godfrey

Advertisement 2

I have been around both politics and the media for a long time. I first ran for office in 1965 and I became a member of the media when I joined what was then called Toronto Sun Publishing Corporation in 1984.

I am an advocate for Postmedia, the company I founded and one that I am very proud of. I am also an advocate for the Jewish community in Canada; for good and fair journalism; and for Patrick Brown, a candidate to be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. (In full disclosure, one of my sons has a prominent role in Mr. Brown’s campaign.)

I have never written or used Postmedia as a platform to express my personal views. To be clear, we at Postmedia have a fantastic group of journalists who can express opinions far better than I can. But this time, I couldn’t resist. For this is one instance, where the story at hand intersects with media, politics, my religion and my advocacy for Mr. Brown.

Advertisement 3

On Saturday, April 30th, an Arabic-language news outlet in Montreal, Sada al-Mashrek, ran a story on Mr. Brown with a headline that read “Federal Conservative Party Leadership Candidate Patrick Brown Tells Sada al-Mashrek: I Will Fight Bill 21 Without Hesitation…. If We Can Help In Ukraine So Quickly, Why Can’t We Help in Palestine?”

These comments were covered in a story in the National Post. Although the Post story reflected published comments by Mr. Brown, both the interview and Post lacked what I would argue is important context. The Post then asked two prominent Jewish groups (The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and B’nai Brith) to provide comment without that context. While the Post story included further explanation from the Brown campaign, Mr. Brown’s comments have been distorted and abused and I’d like to explain a little further.

Advertisement 4

Mr. Brown was making a point that the Canadian government’s assistance to refugees from Ukraine serves as an example of just how quickly countries can act when there is the political will to do so. Mr. Brown said that the same political will should extend to Ahmadiyya and Sikh refugees in Afghanistan, Yazidis in Iraq and Muslims in Yemen and Myanmar. Nowhere in these examples did Mr. Brown refer to anything having to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Only when Mr. Brown was asked a question regarding “refugees in Palestine” did he make an all-encompassing statement expressing a sentiment that Canada should “be able to help with refugees from Palestine, Yemen and Afghanistan.”

A portion of the statement from the Brown campaign published in the Post bears repeating. It stated “… he never drew or intended to draw a comparison between the tragedy of the refugee situation in Ukraine …” and anything to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Advertisement 5

Nonetheless, many in my Jewish community are upset. But to my fellow Jews, to CIJA and to the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC), know this: I have known Patrick Brown for the last decade. He is committed to the strength and security of Israel. He believes in democracy, and if given the opportunity as Leader of the Conservative Party (and eventually Prime Minister), will work diligently for peace. At the very same time, Patrick Brown is known for creating a political environment that welcomes all religions: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and more. This has served him well in expanding the membership of the Ontario PC Party and it will serve him well when he does the same thing for the Conservative Party of Canada.

Advertisement 6

After all, who wouldn’t want all parties to look like our country? To be a fair representation of the many cultures and religions that make this country great? Only Mr. Brown’s opponents. In fact, some political people in the Jewish community who are aligned with Pierre Poilievre have already begun to use these printed words as a weapon for political gain rather than for the cause of truly fighting antisemitism.

Over my many years in media I have come to learn what a powerful tool newspapers can be. I have also learned that sometimes we just miss our target when that context is lacking. Given both my understanding of the situation and my knowledge of Mr. Brown’s character, I believe that this is one of those times where the media may have missed its mark.

Paul Godfrey is Chair of Postmedia Network Inc., owner of the National Post

Posted Newsletter logo

NP Posted

Sign up to receive the daily top stories from the National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.

By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300