A Wilfrid Laurier professor who created a controversial guide for Muslim voters using federal funds did so without the knowledge of her funder, a spokesman for the federal agency says.
Andrea Matyas told the Toronto Sun that the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) — the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research — had no prior knowledge of the Canadian Muslim Voters Guide being created and was "not consulted" in the development of the document.
Matyas said SSHRC provided Zine a $24,923 Partnership Engagement grant for a "Mapping the Canadian Islamophobia Industry" project, not for the Voter's Guide.
"SSHRC takes the concerns raised seriously and is looking into the situation," she said, noting that the SSHRC is an arm's-length agency and the government plays no role in influencing the selection of grants.
The Toronto Sun revealed a week ago that the guide — released three days before the Oct. 21 election — was put together by Jasmine Zine — a professor of sociology and Muslim studies — and graduate students Patima Chakroun and Shifa Abbas.
The guide's cover stated at the time that it was supported by a SSHRC grant — the $24,923 Partnership Engagement grant she got last September.
Zine, who also received an $80,339 SSHRC grant in 2009 to research Canadian Muslim youth post 9/11, gave Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer a series of failing grades in her 34-page guide for allegedly associating with far-right Islamophobic figures, for opposing the M-103 motion and the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and for proposing immigration policies that "compromise asylum seekers."
Her guide claims that re-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been subject to "Islamophobic hate campaigns" and suggests his blackface antics are OK because of his public stance against Islamophobia.
Zine, who has not responded to Toronto Sun requests for comment, issued an Oct. 18 press release noting that they examined the party leaders' stances based on public statements and voting records to help Canadian Muslims decide how to vote in the Oct. 21 federal election.
The guide is still online; however the government logos have been removed.
Jonathan Newman, vice-president of research at Wilfred Laurier University, told the Sun Thursday the SSHRC logo was removed following discussions between the research council and the university. He added that Zine assented to the removal.
Although the university appreciates the range of views on this matter, he said faculty members at Canadian universities are "protected by academic freedom" — meaning they can freely communicate the results of research.
"As such, universities neither 'endorse' nor 'condemn' such communications," Newman said.