The N.B. Human Rights Commission chose to give its Pioneer of Human Rights Award to the Asper Foundation for its Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program. The award ceremony occurred at St. Thomas University on October 25.
The award raised many concerns for those critical of the Asper family’s source of wealth, the CanWest Globe media conglomerate. CanWest owns the National Post, Global TV network, Vancouver Sun and other newspapers.
In announcing the award, Gordon Porter, chair of the N.B. Human Rights Commission said: “The Asper Foundation is involved in the lives of many students in New Brunswick….The foundation is making a difference in allowing students to participate in a program that creates sensitization in tomorrow’s leaders. The human rights commission is proud to support this kind of awareness.”
What about awareness of the Israeli occupation of Palestine? CanWest Global’s late founder, Izzy Asper, told the Jerusalem Post in August 2003: “In all our newspapers, including the National Post, we have a very pro-Israel position….we are the strongest supporter of Israel in Canada.” Since Asper’s death in 2003, CanWest has maintained its unquestioning support of the Israeli government’s policies and the Israeli Defense Forces’ actions.
As Gideon Levy notes in his most recent column: “When we say that someone is a “friend of Israel” we mean a friend of the occupation, a believer in Israel’s self-armament, a fan of its language of strength and a supporter of all its regional delusions.”
The Palestine Liberation Organization reports that in the past eight years, Israeli forces have killed an estimated 5,526 Palestinians including 1,010 children under 18, demolished 8,300 homes and jailed more than 65,000 Palestinians.
The Asper family is not setting a great example. Censorship and corporate abuse of power shouldn’t be rewarded.
Tracy Glynn, Julie Michaud, Alisa Carnall and Ali Abbas
Organizers with Fredericton Palestine Solidarity