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Alberta’s human rights commission chief asked to resign due to Islamophobic comments

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Alberta’s new human rights commission chief asked to resign
Alberta's human rights commission chief Collin May was asked to resign by Justice Minister Tyler Shandro on Monday, after comments he made in 2009 some are calling Islamophobic recently resurfaced. Kim Smith reports. – Sep 13, 2022

Alberta’s human rights commission chief was asked to resign by Justice Minister Tyler Shandro on Monday after the resurfacing of Islamophobic comments made in 2009.

This comes after the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and 27 other community associations sent a letter to Shandro on Monday, where they called for Calgary lawyer Collin May’s resignation after Islamophobic comments made in 2009 resurfaced.

May was appointed to a five-year term as chief of the Alberta Human Rights Commission in July after serving as a member since 2019.

Read more: Senate public hearings on Islamophobia hears testimony from Muslims in Edmonton

May’s review of Israeli-British historian Efraim Karsh’s book Islamic Imperialism: A History on C2C Journal resurfaced in July after several community members expressed their concerns to the NCCM. Independent news outlet The Progress Report also wrote about the comments in July.

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C2C Journal touts itself as an online publication that publishes “unabashed bias in favour of free markets, democratic governance and individual liberty.”

In the review, May made Islamophobic comments calling the religion “militaristic” in nature.

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Since then, the NCCM said it tried to work with May multiple times to attempt to reconcile and build trust with Muslim communities. When May didn’t follow up as agreed, it prompted the NCCM to call for his resignation.

“We at least wanted to facilitate a meeting and give him a chance to learn and grow from his actions, and we were hoping to come to a good resolution on this,” said NCCM’s Alberta advocacy officer Said Omar.

Opposition NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir also called for May’s resignation and said May’s views perpetuate hate against Muslims.

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“The views expressed by Collin May perpetuate hatred and are completely unacceptable for the chair of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Mr. May was given an opportunity to apologize and make amends for these hateful views, but refused,” Sabir said in a Monday statement.

Omar also said May’s lack of response has put Alberta’s Muslim community “over the edge” with Islamophobia an increasing concern in the community recently. Seven Black Muslim women were targeted, threatened or attacked in Edmonton between 2020 and 2022, according to a report by the Organization for the Prevention of Violence.

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“This position carries a high level of responsibility as an ambassador of human rights, dignity and equality… To us, this tells us that he doesn’t see the situation as seriously as he should,” Omar said.

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“The community now feels that Mr. May is not ready to accept his actions and not ready to reconciliation (with the community).”

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Omar said the NCCM worked with Shandro’s office to come to a solution proposed by the council and other community members.

“One of the most important actions the government can take is to listen to the community. When the community speaks up and comes together, especially on an issue like this, it’s essential to listen to community recommendations,” Omar said.

“Often, individuals who face Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination have the most nuanced approach and the best solutions to address the issue.”

Read more: Alberta group reveals menacing sounds of Islamophobia with audio recordings

In an email to Global News, the Alberta Human Rights Commission said they do not have any information to share about May’s resignation.

The NCCM is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization that advocates for the safety of Muslims across Canada. Its mission is to protect Canadian human rights and civil liberties, challenge discrimination and Islamophobia, build mutual understanding, and advocate for the public concerns of Canadian Muslims.

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