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Alberta Human Rights Commission and Tribunals chief Collin May, called on Shandro to act

The head of the Alberta Human Rights Commission is asked to quit by the Minister of Justice, Tyler Shandro.

28 groups of Muslims asked Shandro to do something.

In response to concerns raised by more than two dozen Muslim groups, Tyler Shandro, the minister of justice, has asked Collin May, the head of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, to step down.

In July, May got a lot of criticism after a book review he wrote in 2009 came back to light. Some people said that the review was full of Islamophobic ideas.

In response, May said in a statement that he would meet with Alberta's Muslim community "to learn more about how they live in Alberta and to work on ending discrimination against the Islamic community."

But an open letter signed by 28 Muslim groups in Alberta and released on Monday says that May hasn't met with Muslim leaders.

"When Minister Shandro got the letter, he asked Mr. May to explain," Shandro's press secretary, Joseph Dow, said in an email statement. "After looking over Mr. May's explanation, Minister Shandro has asked him to step down."

Alberta Human Rights Commission and Tribunals head Collin May
A number of Muslim groups in Alberta want Justice Minister Tyler Shandro to ask Alberta Human Rights Commission and Tribunals head Collin May to leave his job.

In July, the commission told that its policy says that a chief can't talk to the media in order to stay neutral.

Said Omar, a spokesman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said that after May said he would work with the community, Muslim leaders offered to meet with him, but he turned them down.

May didn't answer when they asked him to suggest dates that work for him, Omar said.

After the first controversy, Omar said, NCCM also found out that May had sent letters threatening to go to court.

Omar wouldn't say who got legal letters from May, but he did say that neither NCCM nor any of the people who signed the open letter have gotten one.

May sent a letter to CBC in which she threatened to sue over an article about the book review controversy that was published on July 16.

The open letter says that May's actions are "just wrong."

"At a time when brazen attacks on Muslims in Alberta have been getting worse, especially on Black Muslim women wearing hijab, Mr. May's decision to threaten to sue his critics and suggest reaching out to Alberta's Muslim communities was unusual and shocking," the letter says.

May, a lawyer from Calgary, started his new job as chief in July. He had been on the commission since 2019, but this was his first time as chief.

Soon after, he was criticized for a review of the book Islamic Imperialism: A History by the Israeli-British historian Efraim Karsh.

In the review, May talked about Karsh's Islamophobic claim that Islam is by nature a military religion.

"[Karsh] dispels the multicultural illusion of a peaceful Islam and gets to the heart of the matter. Islam is not a peaceful religion that radicals use. It is one of the most militaristic religions known to man, and it is this militaristic heritage that guides the actions of radicals all over the Muslim world," May wrote in his 2009 review.

In an interview in July, Omar said that the way people think about Islam is wrong and that most, if not all, Muslims don't think that way.

The Government of Alberta set up the Alberta Human Rights Commission as a separate body. Complaints filed under the Alberta Human Rights Act are dealt with by its director and staff.

As the head of the commission, May's job is to look over appeals of the director's decisions and choose people from the commission to serve on human rights tribunals. The chief is also in charge of keeping the minister of justice up to date on human rights issues and giving advice to the commission's director and other members.

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