Canada will develop a national plan to fight antisemitism, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced virtually during the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.
Trudeau also announced that the position of special envoy on antisemitism and the preservation of Holocaust remembrance will become a permanent position, and that the representative will be provided with more resources to carry out this work. Human rights lawyer and former federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler became special envoy late last year.
The announcement comes in the aftermath earlier this year of numerous acts of antisemitism in Canada, including in Montreal, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
"We need to attack directly the problem of antisemitism with increased urgency and focus all together, because antisemitism isn't a problem for the Jewish community to solve alone," the Prime Minister told the forum. "It's everyone's challenge to take on, especially governments.
"We've seen so many different radical, extremist groups of various types lashing out at so many different things," Trudeau added. "One of the few common things so many of them have is an acceptance of antisemitic stereotypes and tropes that slip into their discourse and that they build so much of their other hatred on."
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) was pleased with Trudeau's announcements. “Today represents a milestone for the Jewish community and Jewish Federations across Canada who have been advocating for making the role of Special Envoy permanent, with dedicated resources," said Shimon Koffler Fogel, CIJA President and CEO. "We are pleased to see that the government has heeded our advice, and we thank them for being our allies in the fight against the scourge of antisemitism and for their continuous and unambiguous support for the IHRA definition of antisemitism, an important tool to combat Jew-hatred.”
B'nai Brith Canada also welcomed Trudeau's announcements, saying the Prime Minister "took a principled stance on the importance of fighting all forms of antisemitism, including those online....B’nai Brith looks forward to partnering with the Government to translate our national pledge into a robust comprehensive plan."
“The Government has heard B’nai Brith,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “We anticipate that much of our proposal to Minister Garneau in our letter sent Oct. 4 will be incorporated into Canada’s pledge. We view this as a true affirmation that the government will not allow the haters to continue to spew their venom. There should be no hiding – not even in the shadows.”
Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, praised the government for signing the United National Human Rights Council’s statement on antisemitism offered by Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, "initially signed by 43 countries but not Canada.
“Canada’s commitments for Malmo will reassure the Jewish community that the government is addressing antisemitism and will enhance dialogue between the Government and B’nai Brith,” Mostyn said. “This can only be viewed as a positive step in the right direction.”