B’nai Brith urges Canada to fight hatred

OTTAWA — B’nai Brith Canada is calling for a change to the way hatred is dealt with in this country — namely, that hate crimes against all minorities must be fought together in a united effort.

B’nai Brith has just issued a policy paper detailing steps that can bring this ideal about.

This battle has been made all the more urgent recently by the surge in incidents of hatred in Canada affecting diverse minority communities – including Indigenous, Black Canadians, Asians, Muslims, and Jews, among others.

As B’nai Brith told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in 2017, we are guided by the principle that ‘hate is hate’ and cannot be dealt with separately – one community vis-à-vis another – or subjected to different standards. As we pointed out before the Committee, “Antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred are two sides of the same coin of hatred, prejudice and bigotry that affect the rights of all Canadians.”

B’nai Brith Canada has always stood against not just hate directed at the Jewish community but against all forms of hate that are motivated by religious animus. The mission statement on our website is clear: “We are dedicated to eradicating racism, antisemitism and hatred in all its forms, championing the rights of the marginalized, while providing basic human needs for members of our community.”

Hatred must have no place in Canada, which is a multicultural and democratic country based on equality of – and respect for – all citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion. We affirm our sacred commitment to that principle.

In reiterating those core principles and values, and in trying to preserve and advance them, B’nai Brith’s policy paper makes a number of recommendations about fighting hate, including the following:

  • Hate speech and hate crimes, whether directed at the Jewish community or other religious and minority communities in Canada, must be seen holistically as public safety issues. Those who lead our system of justice, together with law enforcement agencies, must exert particular leadership to ensure that the safety of the public remains paramount and that our actions reflect this.
  • Canada requires a truly national effort to craft strategies and implement policies at the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal levels. We must not approach the issues piece-meal, nor proceed in any one given area without considering the implications for another.
  • Community engagement remains key, particularly to prevent the emergence of religiously-based hatred and fear in Canadian youth. This includes the importance of creating opportunities for dialogue, training sessions and cross-community partnerships.
  • Strengthened training for hate crimes officers in all major police forces and in cities where hate crimes persist as a public threat is required.

“Minorities in Canada are under attack,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “We need to all pull together, at the governmental and inter-communal levels, to address this growing threat head on. No Canadians are safe if all Canadians aren’t safe to be themselves in this country.”

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