Members of Toronto’s Jewish community were left stranded Monday morning when 17 out of 72 buses booked for transportation to a pro-Israel rally in Ottawa failed to show up.
United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Greater Toronto, which organized the rally, faced a sudden hurdle when the subcontracted bus company, Prestige Worldwide Transportation Network, LLC, unexpectedly cancelled its service.
Despite having charged and confirmed in advance, the company ceased all communications and provided no explanation for their no-show, leaving hundreds, including young students, stranded in the early hours.
Adam Minsky, President and CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, expressed profound shock and dismay at the situation.
“Given the absolute silence of the sub-contractor and with no other explanation, we are driven to the view that this shameful decision is intended to disrupt our peaceful rally out of hatred towards Jews,” wrote Minsky in a statement released this morning.
“What happened today is sickening and outrageous… Hate and discrimination against any community can never be tolerated in Canada,” Minsky stated.
He recalled a similar incident in Washington DC, last month, where antisemitic activists refused to drive Jewish Americans leaving a rally.
Sara Lefton, Chief Development Officer at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, highlighted the emotional impact of this incident. She claimed that the subcontractor, owned by Mohammed Ashfaq, contributed to an already taxing environment for the Jewish people in her community.
“They will not speak with us, they will not speak with the contractor, and there were hundreds and hundreds of members of the Jewish community, including young students who are already scared, stranded in a parking lot in the dark,” Lefton told National Review.
The rally organized as a response to the rising antisemitic hate crimes in major Canadian cities, aimed to unite Canadians in solidarity with the Jewish community.
Lefton said that the situation with the subcontractor reinforced the need to come together and fight antisemitism.
“Antisemitism is at an all-time high; hate crimes against us across every major city across the country are at an all-time high,” Lefton added.
Despite the setback, the UJA Federation moved quickly to make alternative travel arrangements for those affected. The rally proceeded as planned. Over 15,000 Jewish people and allies rallied together on Parliament Hill.
“The energy of the crowd kept us warm as we raised our voices for the hostages, for Israel, and for our rights as Jewish Canadians to be who we are,” said UJA in a post to X (previously Twitter).
True North attempted to contact Prestige Worldwide Transportation Network LLC, owned by Mohammed Ashfaq, but the number had been disconnected. This organization is not to be confused with that of the same name in Colorado, which was in no way involved.