Israel-Hater Shameela Shakeel Comes Unstuck as Nomination Contestant for Ontario Liberal Party

A few weeks ago, I posted about Shameela Shakeel, a nomination contestant for the Ontario Liberal Party in Newmarket-Aurora, Ontario Canada who really hates Israel (but does not know how to boycott us properly).

It appears she is no longer a nomination contestant – and she is blaming it on “special interests”:

And what does she mean by “special interests”? This could be construed as the “Israel lobby”, given she has complained about being targeted for her views on Israel-“Palestine”:

Newmarket-Aurora Liberal nominee candidate Shameela Shakeel knew that getting involved in politics meant she would face some pressure, but she did not expect it to come as soon as it did.

The candidate for nomination in the upcoming provincial election is facing criticism for previous comments she made on social media supporting Palestinians in the Israel-Palestine conflict, prompting some calls for the party to drop her as a potential candidate.

The Newmarket resident is also questioning the nomination process after she said she was led to believe she was the only prospective candidate — and would have stepped aside had she known sooner of another candidate — but now faces an opponent.

Amidst an uncertain screening process, Shakeel said the pressure she is facing has made her reflect on her place in the run for candidacy.

“I know that this happens. That smear campaigns happen. I know that intimidation happens. This is why people who look like me and think like me don’t run for politics,” she said. “I’m here because I think our community deserves and needs a change from the status quo.”

The education advocate has faced criticism for statements she made last year during the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Shakeel expressed support for controversial TDSB teacher Javier Dávila, who shared resources highlighting Palestinian voices but faced criticism for some links containing instances of antisemitic tropes.

Shakeel also directly called out Education Minister Stephen Lecce when he spoke out in support of Israel and against the terrorist group Hamas, at a time when Israel was facing criticism for attacks harming civilians.

“Hamas was established in 1987 (and was funded by Israel at that time, actually). Palestinians have been displaced, dispossessed, killed, and illegally occupied by the State of Israel since 1948. Do the math and critical analysis, or do you need a competence test first?” she Tweeted at the time.

Michael Teper, on the board of directors for the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation, messaged the party and questioned whether Shakeel should stand as a candidate. 

“I thought that comment was inappropriate, especially for a member of the Liberal Party, because I think it’s inconsistent with the position of the Federal Liberal Party. But I leave them to decide whether that’s the kind of candidate they want to have,” he told NewmarketToday. 

Shakeel said she regrets the Twitter post now because of the misconception it has created, but she added that it was an emotional response to one-sided statements condemning Hamas, but not also condemning actions by Israel against Palestinian civilians.

She has a personal connection in the dispute, as her mother-in-law was a member of a prominent Palestinian family forced to flee the country, and her children are part Palestinian. 

Ultimately, she said Palestinian solidarity should not be conflated with antisemitism and that her Tweets come from the perspective of an equity seeker. She has said she has worked to address all kinds of racism in York Region schools.

“A lot of students who are Palestinian or Middle-Eastern or Muslim are afraid to even admit where they come from. My kids often say that,” Shakeel said. “You can’t keep silencing one side.”

Antisemitism should also be addressed, Shakeel said, and she has always encouraged those on either side of the conflict to speak about their experiences.

“As a mother, my thought was always, I don’t want any more Israel or Palestinian mothers suffering the loss of their children,” she said.

But not necessarily; she has also been accused of misrepresenting her qualifications, something she calls a “smear”:

Another point of attack that has emerged came from Central Ontario Psychology, which sent her an email with concerns she had misrepresented herself as a psychologist based on a NewmarketToday article published in December 2020. The NewmarketToday article, written by a reporter who is no longer an employee, has been corrected to reflect that Shakeel identified herself as a psychometrist. 

Shakeel said part of a smear effort required the psychologist she worked with to get involved. She said she did not see the article when it was published, and would have requested a correction otherwise at the time. 

But her accuser has stood firm:

RE: ‘This is why people who look like me and think like me don’t run’: Newmarket-Aurora Liberal candidate speaks out against ‘smear campaign’, Jan. 15, 2022.

A recent article stated that my practice, Central Ontario Psychology, was involved in a “smear effort” against Shameela Shakeel, representing one “point of attack” among others that she stated she has endured as a nominee for political candidacy. I must answer these claims.

It is illegal to hold oneself out as a psychologist without proper authorization; it’s against the ethics of our profession to allow another person to do so. On Jan. 12, I came across a political blog that referred to both Dr Sylvain Roy and Shameela Shakeel as “psychologists.” I checked with the College of Psychologists of Ontario website; she is not a member, and therefore, is not a psychologist.  

I alerted the blogger to the error; he promptly corrected it. I don’t believe Ms. Shakeel had any involvement in the error.

However, in the course of looking into it, I found a link to her website, where she appropriately refers to herself as a psychometrist (meaning she has training in psychological testing, and practises under the supervision of a psychologist). She also includes a list of media mentions, the first being a link to a NewmarketToday article of December 2020. In it, she was referred to as a psychologist twice.

I now had an ethical obligation to act. I tried to contact the journalist without success, as he is no longer employed with the website. I contacted Ms. Shakeel directly by email, explained the problematic presentation of her qualifications, and recommended that she reach out to NewmarketToday for a correction. I also noted it was problematic that she linked to the article without indicating her qualifications had been misrepresented. I recommended that she post a comment to that effect on her website.

I could have brought a complaint to CPO and let them deal with it. However, it’s appropriate, and less confrontational, to raise less severe ethical infractions with our colleagues to allow them to address it. But she’s under the supervision of a psychologist who is responsible for her professional behaviour.

As I explained to her, this is why I asked for the identity of her supervisor; I needed to ensure she and her supervisor discussed the appropriate management of this error in the media. Once I had alerted the supervisor, I had no intention of taking any further action, as I had told her in an email.

According to the Jan. 15 article in NewmarketToday: Another point of attack that has emerged came from Central Ontario Psychology, which sent her an email with concerns she had misrepresented herself as a psychologist…Shakeel said part of a smear effort required the psychologist she worked with to get involved. 

I vehemently disagree that my actions were an “attack” and part of a “smear effort.” My interactions with her were respectful, appropriate, and consistent with the ethical standards of my profession. Indeed, she followed my advice, completely. I thought the issue was done.   

She is the one who made this issue public. It is deeply unfair to describe my actions as an “attack” and a “smear effort.”

Dr. Jonathan Douglas, Psychologist , Central Ontario Psychology, Barrie 

But there’s more. She has also intimated racism is at play:

She said she became aware Dr. Sylvain Roy had emerged as a candidate a couple of months after she had submitted to run. She was asked to switch to run in the York-Simcoe riding, and Roy was as well, but both declined.

“To be the one to step aside for —I’m just going to say — to step aside for the white man (from) Toronto. There are so many layers to this,” she said. “I expected a certain amount of racism. Now, to see it in action is really hurtful.”

Gapp pushed back on the characterization of racism in the process.

“Our leader (Steven Del Duca) has gone to extraordinary measures to attract people of colour as candidates. So I’m not sure that that is a fair assessment of the situation,” she said. “I think that’s what the vetting process is for. The party has a responsibility to make sure candidates are up to the kind of grilling that they’re going to get on the campaign trail. And I think no matter what position you are in, I think that the vetting process is going to be a tough one.” 

Roy, who lives in Toronto, publicly announced his candidacy Jan. 1 after submitting his papers in December. He said he was presented with other ridings in which to run, but he felt strongly about running in Newmarket-Aurora after working there for several years connecting homeless and disabled people to services.

He said he was not aware of Shakeel or any other prospective candidates when he submitted his nomination papers. He said former Liberal MP Chris Ballard, who encouraged him to run and is his campaign manager, also was not aware.

He said he never intended to be seen as pushing Shakeel aside. He said it is hard to speculate on what is happening within the party but believes it is working to garner more diverse candidates. 

“It seems she’s unhappy the victory was not handed to her,” he said. “To me, it’s about the race. It’s about helping the party.” 

It should be interesting to see if Shakeel goes beyond euphemistic tweets and tells us who she really blames.

Either way, I am glad to see someone who sees my entire country as being illegitimate not in a position of power.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media