Privy Council Office didn't search new CHRC chief's online aliases, cites 'administrative oversight'

Birju Dattani accused of sharing articles that 'compared Israel to Nazi Germany'

Privy Council Office didn't search new CHRC chief's online aliases, cites 'administrative oversight'

The Privy Council Office (PCO) failed to look into the aliases that the new Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) head allegedly used to make controversial social media posts, according to a CBC report.

"An administrative oversight resulted in the aliases not being searched by PCO,” said a PCO spokesperson, talking about new CHRC chief commissioner Birju Dattani.

Dattani became the first Muslim and racialized person to be named as head of the CHRC when he was appointed chief commissioner in June. After his appointment, however, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) raised concerns.

They claimed that social media posts and comments made by Dattani “reveal a troubling past of anti-Israel and even antisemitic positions”.

According to the group, Dattani shared articles that “compared Israel to Nazi Germany” under the name "Mujahid Dattani,” according to a CBC report.

"The aliases were also not reviewed nor shared with security partners who conduct background checks," a spokesperson for the PCO said in the report. "After this oversight was discovered, PCO shared the aliases with its security partners who are now completing necessary reviews."

Canadian HR Reporter has not seen the alleged posts.

The newly appointed CHRC chief commissioner also allegedly spoke on a panel in the U.K. with a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic fundamentalist group that seeks to establish a new caliphate and opposes the existence of an Israeli state, and repeatedly lectured during “Israel Apartheid Week” at British universities about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, according to CIJA.

In February, a coalition of Canadian human rights groups and unions filed a systemic discrimination complaint against the CHRC.

Review of background check process

Following these findings, the PCO will be reviewing its background check process. As of now, it added that neither the existence of Dattani's aliases, nor any forms containing his aliases, were shared with the Prime Minister's Office or the justice minister's office.

"This is consistent with our usual practice in these types of appointments, which this incident has caused us to review," the spokesperson said.

A report published in June noted that the United Nations’s oversight body will be investigating the CHRC following reports that the Canadian body has discriminated against Black and racialized workers.

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