Tory aide tried to scuttle Hanukkah event: organizer
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, December 24, 2008 9:35PM EST
While the holiday season is traditionally a time of celebration and peace for Jews and Christians, a Tory staffer is facing accusations she launched a partisan battle against the Liberals over a Hanukkah ceremony at a school for disabled children.
On Sunday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff attended a menorah lighting ceremony at Toronto's Zareinu Educational Centre, but according to organizers, a Conservative aide tried to shut the event down and block Ignatieff from attending.
Georganne Burke, who works for the Minister of State Gary Goodyear within Industry Canada, also insinuated that having Ignatieff at the ceremony could pose a problem for the school, according to event organizer Gary Gladstone.
"I am advising you that Georganne Burke called me this evening at about 10:30 pm (on Sunday) enraged, advising me for the benefit of the Jewish community the menorah lighting should be cancelled," Gladstone wrote in an email obtained by CTV News.
"(Burke) further went on to say that she felt it would do serious damage to Zareinu to have the event there," he said in the email.
Rabbi Mendy Zirkind, who arranged Ignatieff's appearance, said that Conservative MP Peter Kent was also invited to the event. However, Burke still did everything in her power to try and stop the event from occurring, Zirkind added.
Phone calls to Burke weren't returned, but the Tories are reportedly taking the accusations seriously, CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported Wednesday.
Toronto-area Liberal MP Bryon Wilfert said that Burke went over the line by pressuring the organizers.
The incident comes less than a month after the Tories and the opposition parties faced off against each other in Parliament during a heated constitutional battle.
Ignatieff, who recently replaced Stephane Dion as party leader, has appeared to back away from the possibility of pulling down the government with the help the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also softened his partisan rhetoric against the opposition parties and said that all parties need to work together.
With a report from CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief