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CUPE Ontario leader apologizes for 'Nazi' reference

Vanessa Kortekaas, CUPE Ontario leader apologizes for 'Nazi' reference, Ottawa Citizen, January 8, 2009

Source: Ottawa Citizen

The Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees says a Nazi reference he used to justify criticism of Israel was "a poor choice of analogy."

Sid Ryan made the comment yesterday after a trustee with the Toronto District School Board called on his board to disavow the union's proposal to ban Israeli academics from the province's post-secondary schools.

"The example I gave was inappropriate and left people with the impression I was trying to compare the people of Israel with the Nazis," Mr. Ryan said.

On Monday, Mr. Ryan likened Israel's attack on the Islamic University in Gaza to Nazis targeting educational institutions and burning books in the Second World War.

These comments, and similar statements in subsequent media interviews, were met with widespread scrutiny.

However, in an interview yesterday evening, Mr. Ryan said he would apologize to "any member of the Jewish community or Israelis who I've offended ... and I know I've offended some people."

Mr. Ryan offered the apology in a follow-up phone call shortly after reiterating that he would not withdraw any of his comments on the CUPE proposal regarding Israeli professors.

The union president was responding to a motion proposed by school board trustee Josh Matlow yesterday that requires CUPE members to comply with the school board's equity policies and staff directions regarding the Middle East.

There are 11,600 school board workers who are members of CUPE, which negotiates contracts with the board.

The board's Student and Community Equity Department sent a direction to all its members on Tuesday stating: "We count on our staff to take great care to ensure that feelings about this conflict do not give rise to hostilities within our schools or classrooms."

Mr. Matlow called Mr. Ryan's comments "outrageous, sensational rhetoric that only creates conflict within our schools and our country."

Although Mr. Ryan signalled his Nazi references were inappropriate, he stands behind the union's proposal that sparked this debate.

The motion requests the board to send a letter to Mr. Ryan expressing its strong disapproval of his Nazi references and his support for the proposed boycott of Israeli academics.

Mr. Matlow said he hopes the letter will convince CUPE members to hold Mr. Ryan individually accountable for his behaviour.

"I think there will be some courageous souls that will speak up," said the trustee.

"I'd be surprised if some didn't."

Press Releases

The CUPE proposals and clarification, (Jan 5, Jan 13, Jan 14)
CUPE 3902 (local branch), Executive Statement, (rejecting boycott proposal)
Canadian Graduate Students, Petition Against the Proposed CUPE Ontario Boycott of Israeli Academics and Institutions
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), petition
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), press release
B'nai Brith Canada, CUPE-National must address blatant discrimination by its Ontario affiliate, Press Release, January 6, 2009
B'nai Brith Canada, Why is CUPE National still silent on Hamas terrorism, Press Release, January 13 2009

News Reports

Union at Ontario Universities Proposes Boycott of Israeli Professors, The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 6, 2009
Sid Ryan's bigotry, National Post, 6 January 2009
Bob Dale, Ottawa needs to proscribe CUPE's anti-Israel agenda, The National Post, January 06, 2009
Sid Ryan keeps digging, National Post, 7 January 2009
Tamas Virag, Local Jews slam union ban idea, The Edmonton Sun, January 7, 2008
Kate Dubinski, Western rejects CUPE call for boycott, The London Free Press, January 8, 2009
CUPE should stay out of politics, Calgary Herald, January 08, 2009
Vanessa Kortekaas, CUPE Ontario leader apologizes for 'Nazi' reference, The Ottawa Citizen, January 8, 2009
Jessica Ireland, Ryan's Israel stance creates rift in CUPE, The Windsor Star, January 09, 2009
Susan Martinuk, Racism is behind push to ban Israeli scholars, The Calgary Herald, January 09, 2009
James Cowan, Right to fight?, National Post, January 10, 2009
Michael Coren, Lecture for a union, Toronto Sun, 10th January 2009
Oren Gross, CUPE Ontario's proposed boycott of Israeli academics is just plain anti-Semitic, The Globe and Mail, January 13, 2009
Kenyon Wallace, Ryan rebuked by national CUPE head, Toronto Star, 14 January 2009
Howard Levitt, Political lobbying doesn't help CUPE member interests, Financial Post, January 14, 2009
Joe Howell, CUPE Ontario proposes to ban Israeli academics from campuses, The Strand, 15 January 2009
Ryan’s rage, Editorial, Canadian Jewish News, January 15, 2009
Murray Teitel, A waste of CUPE's money, Toronto Sun, 15 January 2009
Sid Ryan must go, National Post, 16 January 2009

Responces, Blogs, Newsletters

CUPE Shows Their Colours, Pelalusa Blog, January 05, 2009
CUPE Wants HM Government to Condemn Israel, Dr Roy's Thoughts, January 05, 2009
Israel Academic Boycott Urged by Canada Labor Leader, ZWord Blog, January 06, 2009
CUPE’s Latest Gimmick: Just Plain Wrong, BlogUT (A blog by University of Toronto Students), January 6, 2009
Scratch A Leftist Labour Union, Small Dead Animals, January 06, 2009
CUPE asks that Israeli professors be blacklisted, Keyes, January 06, 2009
CUPE: Ban Israeli academics, The Shotgun Blog, January 07, 2009

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