"While East has been given a great deal of space to describe Palestinian protests in Winnipeg, no journalist has bothered to mention his racist comments made during the pro-Israel rallies that he organizes."
Tyler Searle, Journalist, Winnipeg Free Press
Erik Pindera, Journalist, Winnipeg Free Press
Carol Sanders, Journalist, Winnipeg Free Press
Paul Samyn, Editor, Winnipeg Free Press
Dear Paul Samyn,
I’m writing to express my concern about several articles in the Free Press that include quotes from a far-right figure in Winnipeg who runs a website with a well-documented track record of hate speech.
Since October 7, Tyler Searle, Erik Pindera, and Carol Sanders have all quoted Ron East. East is invariably described as the “founder of the Israeli Canadian Council.” Some articles add that he is a “prominent counter-protest organizer.”
Here is a list of articles that quote East (there may be others):
- October 30: “Focus turning to hostage recovery: Members of local Jewish community gather outside Canadian Museum for Human Rights” by Tyler Searle
- October 27: “Hate crimes tied to Mideast conflict: City police probe multiple incidents” by Tyler Searle and Erik Pindera
- October 24: “Khan would embrace local peacemaker role” by Carol Sanders
- October 23: “Tensions erupt at opposing rallies: Police intervene to restore calm after people stomp on Israeli flag” by Tyler Searle
- October 16: “Rallies continue by city's Jewish, Palestinian communities” by Tyler Searle
- October 10: “Palestinian supporters rally at city hall” by Tyler Searle
Ron East as counter-protester
East appears to be a primary source for Free Press journalists reporting on the protests in the city.
While East has been given a great deal of space to describe Palestinian protests in Winnipeg, no journalist has bothered to mention his racist comments made during the pro-Israel rallies that he organizes.
A video on X shows Ron East calling Palestinian protesters “animals” and then saying they are worse than animals because “animals are nicer.” Why is this person being given a platform to define Winnipeg’s pro-Palestine protests? Especially when his protests are disproportionately small compared to Winnipeg’s pro-Palestine rallies? East has a history of conflict with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. He is seen by many in Winnipeg as espousing fringe and racist views. Despite these basic facts, Free Press journalists have repeatedly interviewed East and presented him as a reasonable representative.
These comments, unfortunately, only scratch the surface.
Ron East and TheJ.ca
Ron East is the publisher and Editor of TheJ.ca. East’s website has a well-documented history of publishing racist content.
TheJ.ca routinely denigrates Black people, Indigenous people, the disabled, Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians and often descends to outright racist views – including the idea that some ethnic groups “matter more” than others. To give an example of some of the most vile content on the website, it includes:
- A column titled “Jewish Lives Matter MORE,” which assertsthat “Jewish lives not only matter, but they matter more. Why? They matter more because their existence contributes more to the public good than the lives of other ethnic groups […] Maybe there is an element of survival of the fittest at work.”
- A column mockingIndigenous land acknowledgements and claiming that the idea that European colonialism stole land from Indigenous peoples is a “myth.”
- A column affirminga view that Arabs “must embrace modernity” or risk reverting to “tribal desert primitivism.”
- A letter statingthat “Islamic immigration into the west” is bringing “poisonous attitudes” and for that reason, the author “hesitate[s] to go even into a Falafel place.”
- Columnists which denyPalestinian indigeneity and culture, and describe Palestinians as the “enemy within” and as a “cancer” that must be “removed.”
The report published by my organization, titled "Legitimizing Hate: Canadian Politicians Advertise on Racist Website," is attached to this email, and documents TheJ.ca’s record of publishing hateful and racist content.
East himself has complained about the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg supporting Black Lives Matter (BLM). In a 2021 article, East said BLM “does not hide their demonization of Israel as an apartheid state and colonizing oppressor” and decried “Their Marxist agenda and blatant antisemitism.” He also accused “BLM-aligned Palestinian bullies” of attacking Jewish protesters. This was likely a reference to an incident in which East organized a counter-rally against a peaceful “Nakba Day” demonstration in 2021 in Winnipeg. East assaulted someone for stepping on an Israeli flag and was subsequently punched in the face — all according to his own description on TheJ.ca.
Winnipeg Free Press's journalistic responsibility
Given Mr. East’s prominence in Winnipeg and his notoriety as TheJ.ca’s Editor and publisher, it is alarming that none of the journalists who extensively interviewed him would include this readily available public information in their story.
It is imperative that the Free Press either give a fair and balanced description of Ron East or simply not interview him. It is inappropriate to present someone with such controversial public views as a sober-minded representative of a group of people in Winnipeg.
Director of Media Advocacy, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East