Canada | The post of Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism will be permanent

(Ottawa) Canada wants to develop a national strategy to combat hate with the help of its Special Envoy to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and combat anti-Semitism.


Laura Othman
Canadian Press

To do so, Ottawa plans to perpetuate the position of the Special Envoy and strengthen its mandate by adding more resources.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday during his virtual participation in the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism in Malmö, Sweden.

“We must tackle the problem of anti-Semitism head-on with more determined and focused efforts because anti-Semitism is not a problem for the Jewish community to deal with on its own,” Mr. Trudeau told forum participants.

“It is a challenge that everyone must face, especially governments,” he added.

Former Liberal Justice Minister Erwin Kotler was appointed as Special Envoy in November 2020 to promote awareness of the Holocaust and combat anti-Semitism at home and around the world.

Mr. Kotler was part of the Canadian delegation that attended the Forum. He argued that Canada’s national strategy was a necessary step to support Jews in the fight against anti-Semitism.

In a statement, he described this future strategy as “essential” to building a democratic culture as well as to promoting and ensuring the protection of human rights and human dignity.

The Consultative Center for Jewish-Israel Relations (CIJA), which represents Jewish Federation in Canada, has been calling for a permanent position like Mr. Kotler for years.

In a statement, CIJA President Shimon Kofler Fogel thanked the government for being an ally in the fight against anti-Semitism and said he was pleased to see Ottawa implement the organization’s proposal to reinstate the permanent role of the special envoy.

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B’nai Breath Canada, a Jewish human rights organization, says it recorded 2,610 anti-Semitic incidents last year, a record for the fifth year in a row.

In front of the forum, Justin Trudeau admitted that he was deeply concerned to see an increase in anti-Semitic acts in Canada and elsewhere in the world. He likened this show to “the canary in the evil mine.”

Last July, the federal government hosted a national summit on anti-Semitism, where Irwin Kotler put forward ideas to combat the phenomenon. Among his suggestions, he suggested improving educational resources about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. He also suggested the possibility of enhancing security and protection measures for Jewish institutions, including synagogues, schools, community centers and places of remembrance.

On Wednesday, Justin Trudeau pledged to work with Jewish communities across the country to craft the national strategy. B’nai Brith Canada has confirmed its intention to work with the government.

The Canadian Prime Minister used his platform to call on other governments around the world to recognize the adoption of the definition of anti-Semitism as formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, as Canada did in 2019.

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