Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General reportedly asking job candidates to attest they haven’t signed controversial TMU petition

In October, billionaire hedge fund chief executive Bill Ackman and other U.S. business leaders demanded that Harvard release the names of students whose organizations had signed a petition solely blaming Israel for the deadly Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, in order to ensure that the signatories were not hired “inadvertently” by their firms.
“(Students) should not be able to hide behind a corporate shield when issuing statements supporting the actions of terrorists,” Ackman argued.

The result was instantaneous — and revealing. Many of the erstwhile “progressive” pro-Palestinian students suddenly had their come-to-Jesus moments, claimed confusion and asked that their names be removed from those letters. The sacrifices they had undertaken to obtain admission to Harvard quickly superseded the political cause du jour.

Canada is now having its Harvard moment.

I have written previously about the anti-Semitic petition signed by 74 law students at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Lincoln Alexander School of Law denying Israel’s right to exist and blaming it for Hamas’ Oct. 7 atrocities.

Our firm and others, I wrote, had been asking TMU students whether they had signed the petition in order to avoid hiring those that did, informing them that a false answer would be cause for discharge if discovered. As I noted in the column: “What law firm would want to hire a racist, let alone a student whose name would now feature prominently when it is searched on Google, thereby causing embarrassment to the firm that employs them?”

Brand damaging conduct, as I have frequently written, even ostensibly unrelated to the workplace, can be cause for discharge.
That approach has now apparently found favour with Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General, which, according to a report in the online publication The Breach, is requiring law students from TMU who have “current or upcoming employment opportunities” with the ministry to sign a statement attesting that they did not sign the controversial letter.

The statement, the report said, included an acknowledgement that “false reporting on this attestation may be subject to either a revocation of any job offer made to me or discipline up to and including dismissal from employment with the Ministry of the Attorney General, as the case may be.”

The Breach reported that the ministry said the students who signed the letter had used “their platform as students of the law to express antisemitic views, display intolerance and excuse terrorism.”

The Ministry did not immediately provide a response to an inquiry from the Financial Post about the report.

When government takes a position, however, it provides political clearance for private industry to follow. If the government considers hiring employees supporting such an anti-Semitic letter beyond the pale, what employer will say otherwise?

When the federal government implemented a vaccine mandate about a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring its employees to be vaccinated, much of the rest of corporate Canada quickly followed. I suspect the same will apply here and those parading down our streets calling for the extermination of Israel — i.e. killing or expelling all Jews “From the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea” — will have their photographs sent to their employers and become permanently unemployable. And if they choose to put on masks, that arguably violates the criminal code.

And what does this do to TMU’s Lincoln Alexander School of Law, which has been so slow to react? It is losing its placements, funding and attractiveness to potential students. Even those who did not sign the letter are suffering the taint from those who did. If the university and law school had taken appropriate immediate action, this all would have been averted and there would be no demands for the principal and president to resign. And these students’ professorial cheerleaders, who were supportive of the letter, will, unless the school closes, which seems increasingly a possibility, bear responsibility for the students’ and school’s failures.

At York University, student unions faced similar pushback.

The York Federation of Students, along with two other unions, released a “Statement of Solidarity with Palestine” in October, which one-sidedly attacked Israel and contributed to a campaign of anti-Semitism on campus.

In response, York University demanded a retraction, a public statement that the unions “do not endorse or support anti-Semitism,” the immediate resignation of all student union executives involved and threatened to withdraw recognition of the student union.

What happened next? In Ontario’s legislature, Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop read out the names of the executives representing the York student union to ensure they faced public opprobrium and could be added to companies’ “do not hire” lists.

So there is a ray of sunshine emanating from all of these hate fests — including one where a masked protester, right in front of the police, threatened a person with death or, as he put it, “to put him six feet under” while the police laid no charges. The public has had enough and will demand the police begin taking action. But the most significant backlash will be that from Canadian employers, who will receive the names of employees attending rallies and posting content on social media that supports terrorism — and refuse to hire any of them.

Which they are free legally to do.

This pushback has gone both ways. I have received various Law Society complaints as a result of my columns, likely relying on the precedent set in the case of my client, Jordan Peterson, asking that I be suspended from practice and forced to undergo social media training and remediation. But, unlike the College of Psychologists, the Law Society replied sanely, dismissing these complaints without even asking me to respond.

“The Law Society must respect Howard Levitt’s constitutional right to express his views,” it said. “This right is not absolute, but it has been recognized as being entitled to significant deference.”

I have no reason to be concerned. But those attending rallies with racist chants and posting anti-Semitic attacks on social media do — and employers are quickly deciding that those are not appropriate members of their workforces