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Canadian politician sues Jewish groups

TORONTO (JTA) — An ex-candidate in Canada is suing the country’s leading Jewish advocacy groups, alleging they ruined her political career.

Lesley Hughes, who was dumped as a Liberal candidate in a Winnipeg-area electoral district, claims the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith Canada made false and defamatory accusations that she is anti-Semitic.

In a lawsuit filed June 16, Hughes alleges that as a result of the actions of the CJC and B’nai Brith, former federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion revoked her candidacy in last September’s federal elections.

Hughes is suing the organizations, four of its senior members and Peter Kent, now a federal Cabinet minister who represents a heavily Jewish Toronto-area district.

In her lawsuit Hughes acknowledges that in a 2002 article in a Winnipeg community newspaper, she repeated a variation of the Internet canard that legions of Jews avoided death in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center because the Mossad knew of the attacks in advance.

"Israeli businesses, which had offices in the Towers, vacated the premises a week before the attacks, breaking their lease to do it," she wrote.

Hughes alleges in her suit that CJC and B’nai Brith, using a 6-year-old article, persuaded Dion to revoke her candidacy on the grounds that she was anti-Semitic and unfit for public office.

She says Kent, then a Conservative candidate, issued a news release on Sept. 26, 2008 in which he said Hughes holds "extreme, anti-Israel 9/11 conspiracy theories" and was "unfit to serve for public office."

Hughes claims she has been "branded as an anti-Semite and a person of unsavory character and, as a result, is no longer employable in her role as a freelance journalist/broadcaster." She also says she has suffered mental distress and humiliation.

None of the defendants has filed statements of defense, nor have any of the allegations been proven in court.

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