were 829 incidents reported to B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights in
2005, an overall decrease of 3.3 percent over the previous year, but still the
second highest number of incidents in almost a quarter of a century. Several
legal decisions in 2005, including one regarding the Internet, suggest that
hate crimes were being taken much more seriously.
the JEWISH COMMUNITY
Estimates of the
size of the Jewish community range from 340,000 to 380,000, out of a total
population of approximately 31.1 million. This represents little
more than one percent of the population of Canada, down from 1.2
percent a decade ago. The main Jewish centers are Toronto (179,100), Montreal (92,970) Vancouver (22,585) Winnipeg (14,760), Ottawa (13,450), Calgary (7,950)
and Edmonton (4,925).
The main advocacy organizations are B’nai Brith Canada and the Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA). CIJA oversees the activities of the
Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canada-Israel Committee and National Jewish Campus
Life. B’nai Brith Canada maintains an independent parallel structure with its
League for Human Rights (henceforth, the League), Canada Israel Public Affairs
Committee (CIPAC), and Campus Action Initiative.
The Canadian Jewish community publishes some 20 newspapers and journals,
including the Jewish Tribune and the Canadian Jewish News.
Approximately 12,000 day school children are served by the Jewish educational
system, while thousands more attend supplementary after-school programs
affiliated with synagogues.
extremists continued to be active across the country. Racist flyers which
appeared to originate from far right-wing groups were reportedly distributed in
British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario as well in the Maritimes.
Photocopied flyers entitled “Jewish Supremacy Unmasked” were found on at least
four university campuses in the Toronto area.
Neo-Nazi symbols were reported at high schools in the Ontario area, as
well as on other school property across the country. A high-school student in
the Belleville area (Ontario) was charged in connection with an antisemitic
flyer containing a hand-drawn swastika and racist comments. Neo-Nazi
terminology has been reported in a number of gang-related activities in
Canadian high schools.
Attempts to recruit high school students to the far right /white supremacist
cause were recorded on a number of websites. Students at an exclusive private
high-school in the Toronto area were disciplined by school authorities following
the discovery of hate-laced and threatening e-mails and a website using Nazi
A growing source of hate culture among Canadian youth is ‘hate rock’. A
trial ordered in connection with the sale of CDs containing ‘hate rock’ is
anticipated in 2006.
White supremacists continue to be among the most active extreme rightist.
This is evidenced, for example, in the Canadian-based website Stormfront Canada for neo-Nazis and their sympathizers, and the activities of Paul Fromm of CAFE, who
sees himself as the protector of European white culture and free speech. A
number of militant white supremacists are facing criminal charges and/or human
rights complaints in Canada.
In recent years
antisemitism in far left circles has become more overt, although it is
frequently veiled in the language of anti-Zionist rhetoric and therefore is
generally tolerated, whether on campus or in public demonstrations. Such groups
often borrow from the imagery used on far right sites. For example, signs appeared
at anti-war protests in Ottawa equating Israeli leaders with Hitler and the
Jewish Star of David with the swastika. Extreme left graffiti incorporating far
right symbols was also reported in the same area. Antisemitic postings were reported
on far left sites such as Indymedia outlets originating in Canada, as well as in other left-leaning media. In one posting, control by Jews was blamed
for a rise in the price of oil.
Far left groups and media sites have embraced anti-Israel causes with
alacrity and often join forces with groups espousing such positions. This is especially
common on campus (see below). This collusion was reflected in comments by Dr.
Mohamed Elmasry, University of Waterloo engineering professor and president of
the Canadian Islamic Congress, who publicly justified terror attacks against
Israelis over the age of 18.
The willingness of left-leaning groups to engage in antisemitic rhetoric
was highlighted in the Sabeel ecumenical conference which took place in Toronto
in 2005, with events being held in mainstream church facilities and union
premises rented by the organization. Sabeel is a Palestinian Christian group
that claims to be seeking a just peace. However, this group, which calls for
divestment from Israel, commonly engages in blatant propaganda seeking to
isolate and demonize Israel, while delegitimizing the right of the Jewish state
to exist. While in Toronto, Sabeel’s leader Naim Atiq told his audience that
the real antisemitism was a matter of ‘Jews hating other Jews’, that is, ‘mainstream’
Jews hating Jews who are critical of Israel.
In general, the far left sector continued to marginalize the experiences
of the Jewish community, ignoring or dismissing the continuing high levels of
antisemitic activity in Canada.
to confirm that extremist Islamic groups fundraise, recruit, disseminate
propaganda and conduct operational planning in Canada, taking advantage of the
country’s liberal immigration and asylum policies. These activities are
proscribed under the country’s anti-terrorism legislation, though only one
charge has been laid since the legislation was enacted in 2001. Momin Khawaja,
a Canadian-born software developer arrested in March, 2004, is being held in
connection with alleged links to a foiled British bomb plot. There are also
ongoing proceedings in which four individuals with alleged links to extremist
Islamic groups are challenging security certificates issued against each of
A mandatory review of Canada’s anti-terrorism legislation that began
under the previous government was still in progress at the end of 2005 when
federal elections took place. The new government has pledged to take a stronger
stand against extremist elements operating on Canadian soil, as well as on the
issue of global terrorism.
Reports increasingly point to the existence of a cadre of ‘home grown’
extremists within the immigrant and refugee population. The investigative book The
Path to Terror by Canadian journalist Stewart Bell demonstrates this
trend. This poses huge challenges for security and law enforcement
agencies since Canadian-born individuals who advocate violent jihad and engage
in illegal activities are more able to blend into the general population and
829 incidents were reported to the League, an overall decrease of 3.3 percent
over the previous year. However, this reduction follows increases of 46.7
percent in 2004 (857 incidents), 27.2 percent in 2003 (584 incidents) and over
60 percent in 2002 (459 cases). In fact, the total for 2005 still represents
the second highest number of incidents since the inception of the League’s
Audit 23 years ago, and is almost three times the number reported just five
years previously when there were 286 cases.
Of the total, 531 (64.1 percent) were classified as
harassment, 273 (32.9 percent) as vandalism and 25 (3.0 percent) as violence,
compared to 457 harassment cases (53.3 percent), 369 of vandalism (43.1 percent),
and 31 of violence (3.6 percent) in 2004. Seventy-two harassment incidents
involved threats (including bomb threats and threats directed against
individuals or sites). The increase in the number of harassment cases in 2005,
suggests that in the short term at least, this type of activity has become the
method of choice for the majority of those wishing to vent anti-Jewish
The figure for vandalism in 2005 dropped by 26 percent from the previous
year. Far right-wing activity continued to feature in reports of antisemitic
activity in Canada in 2005. Of the 273 cases of vandalism reported Canada-wide,
160 cases involved swastikas on public sites, community buildings and private
homes and property. The swastika and other far right-wing symbols, including “SS,”
“Heil Hitler” and “ZOG,” dominated incidents of graffiti, as well as other
It has been suggested that increased security measures at
major Jewish institutions, especially in Toronto, which in 2004 was hit by a
series of such incidents, might have deterred some potential vandals. In Montreal, legal proceedings relating to the 2004 firebombing of the United Talmud Torah Elementary School and the ongoing trial of the perpetrator kept such issues at the
forefront of community consciousness (see ASW 2004).
However, in some areas, such as Alberta, outside these Jewish
population centers, numbers of vandalism cases have risen. Similarly, in Ottawa, vandalism jumped in 2005 by 29.2 percent over the previous year. In fact, 64.6
percent of incidents in the capital were classed in this category, whereas
harassment made up the majority of incidents elsewhere.
Incidents involving violence decreased overall from 31 cases
in 2004 to 25 in 2005. However, in Toronto it rose to 16 incidents from 14 in the previous year, perhaps reflecting the increase in violence in the city in general. There
were six cases of violence in Montreal, one in Kitchener, and one in Winnipeg. In Ottawa, where four cases were reported in 2004, there were no violent
incidents in 2005.
Thirty-five incidents were directed at synagogues in 2005,
compared to 40 the previous year, including synagogues in Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Edmonton and Belleville, Ontario. This suggests that Jewish houses of
worship are still considered prime targets. There were also 19 incidents aimed
at Jewish communal buildings, such as charitable organizations and community centers,
down from 25 in 2004.
Cases involving cemetery desecration dropped to just two in
2005 (in Edmonton and Ottawa), from ten in the previous year. The strong police
response and negative public reaction following a high profile cemetery
desecration case in Toronto in 2004 may have deterred potential perpetrators.
There were 113 incidents directed against Jewish homes, a
decrease from 2004 but still up from 95 in 2003. The improvement could be due to increased vigilance by police following rashes of incidents targeting
private homes in Toronto and Thornhill, Ontario, during the spring of 2004.
Despite a drop to 48 incidents in the public school system
from 66 in 2004, this was still more than twice the number recorded in 2003
(22). The eight Jewish schools targeted in 2005 are included in the total
number of school incidents.
In 2005, 46 incidents were recorded in the workplace,
similar to the 2004 figures, but double the 23 incidents recorded in 2003. An
increasing number of cases are occurring in public service settings. Clearly,
ingrained prejudice is a problem in government bureaucracy, both federally and
provincially, as much as in other employment sectors.
Denial of religious accommodation has become a significant
theme in the workplace, as well as on campus (rescheduling of examinations that
fall on days of religious significance, etc.). This development might result
from propaganda disseminated on campus and which negatively affects the
mindsets of professors and administrators, so that they are inclined to think that
Jews are being ‘too demanding and overbearing’ when they ask for accommodation
of their religious needs.
This theme is not confined solely to Jewish students and has
already become an issue in the educational system, as illustrated by the kirpan
case where a student from the Sikh community sought to wear his ceremonial
dagger at his public high school. The Supreme Court of Canada decision
ultimately ruled that the school’s refusal to allow the student to carry his
ceremonial dagger violated his fundamental human rights.
As in previous years, the ethnic origin of the perpetrators
was analyzed where possible, for example, where there was a face-to-face encounter
and/or the perpetrator self-identified. As in the two previous years, the
single most active group carrying out antisemitic incidents was found to be
made up of persons who identified themselves as Arab. In 2004 it was reported
that this number had more than doubled from 36 in 2003 to 80 in 2004. Although in 2005, the figure declined to 56, this still shows an increase
of 64 percent between 2003 and 2005.
Although there were no major trigger events in 2005 emanating from the
Middle East, there were intense, short bursts of activity that have been noted
in the past. Causes for such spates of antisemitic incidents can be domestic as
well as international. The months with the largest number of incidents were
January (85), representing 10.3 percent of the total number of incidents for
the year, February (85), and May (101) − 12.2 percent of the year’s total.
One could surmise that the attention surrounding the Zündel security
certificate hearing in early 2005 led to the small increase in the first two
months of the year, since it was undoubtedly a rallying call for neo-Nazi
sympathizers. The publicity generated by the trial of native leader David
Ahenakew in April 2005 served a similar purpose in terms of the higher level of
incidents in May (see below).
There was a region-specific increase in Quebec in January following a
spate of antisemitic response in the media to an agreement that was announced,
but later struck down, increasing public funding to Jewish schools. Out of a
total of 133 incidents during the entire year for the province, 20, or 15
percent, took place in the opening month of the year.
In addition to
antisemitic messaging in French or English, anti-Jewish propaganda was
disseminated by ethnic groups through foreign language media outlets based in Canada. For example, there were 17 incidents of ethnic media employing Holocaust denial and
antisemitic rhetoric in Hungarian, Russian, Pakistani and Chinese publications.
In Montreal, a rash of graffiti late in the year appeared to be connected to the
Russian ultra-nationalist party Natsional-Sotsialischicheskoe Obshchestvo (NSO − National Socialist Society; http://www.nso-korpus.info), known for its antisemitic messaging.
Explicit anti-Israel propaganda bordering in some cases on antisemitism
has long been disseminated on Canadian campuses, but a more subtle type of
messaging reaching school-age children has recently emerged. This propaganda (for
example, texts that on one hand portray Israelis as bloodthirsty killers who
inflict suffering for amusement, and on the other, justify and glorify the
actions of suicide bombers) is likely to pose an increasing problem for Jewish
students in the public school system, and will influence the perception of
Canadian youth about Israelis, and by extension, Jews, including their fellow Jewish
− often visibly Jewish − were targeted in 48 reported antisemitic
incidents on campus, similar to levels in 2003 and 2004. Inflammatory
anti-Israel campaigns continue to be mounted, with events demonizing the Jewish
state, delegitimizing its existence, and at times endorsing violence and
terrorism against its citizens. For example, University of Toronto students announced their intention to file complaints of alleged antisemitic and
pro-terrorist statements in speeches made at the 2005 Israel Apartheid Week on
that campus. In addition, and as reported in previous years, the anti-Israel
atmosphere in some classrooms has sometimes led to anti-Jewish outbursts. There
have also been cases in which students experience a more subtle antisemitism,
but fear to report it due to concerns that their academic standing will be
Professors generally described as left-leaning have been engaged in
activities that adversely impact the Jewish community. For example, Professor David
Noble at York University in Toronto alleged in a series of flyers and public
statements that Jewish business interests were controlling the university’s
agenda. He also raised objections to a long-standing university policy that
avoided exams on major Jewish holidays to accommodate the Jewish students who
make up a large segment of the student population at that university. A complaint
against University of Ottawa Professor Michel Chossudovsky concerning the
posting of Holocaust denial comments on a website he runs, resulted in the
removal of most of the offending material.
In 2005 the
League’s Anti-Hate Hotline received 161 reports of web-based hate activity with
a Canadian connection in terms of content, perpetrators and/or victims,
compared to 47 in 2004 and 32 in 2003. This number includes 34 incidents
involving targeted hate through direct e-mail messaging, in which the
perpetrator managed to obtain the victim’s personal e-mail address. Neo-Nazi and
Islamist sites continued to disseminate hate material throughout 2005, despite some
limited success in shutting down some of these sites, at least temporarily.
Blogs were also a source of online hate.
It should be noted that the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal
have signaled a willingness to step up activity to fight hate on the Internet, especially
in light of the intensification of neo-Nazi activity through the web, in Canada, as well as around the world. A number of complaints, relating to antisemitic
Internet postings by those identifying with extreme right activities have been
filed with the Commission and been referred to the Tribunal for hearing in 2006.
In its decision in Warman v. Kulbashian, the Canadian Human Rights
Tribunal ordered hefty fines against individuals for their role in maintaining
several hate websites and newsletters. The case was significant because it was
the first time in Canada that the Internet provider was also found liable for
playing a role in soliciting and actively promoting hate content, although the
actual servers were established in the United States.
ATTITUDES TOWARD THE HOLOCAUST AND THE NAZI ERA
is not a crime in Canada, and thus remains a common element in anti-Jewish, as
well as anti-Israel activity, on campuses, in racist flyers, in Internet
propaganda and in street graffiti. It continues to be disseminated by both the
far right and the far left. In one incident in 2005, Winnipeg residents
complained of finding flyers containing virulent Holocaust denial material
plastered on the windshields of their cars parked outside a high school.
Holocaust denial also continues to be a theme in pseudo-academic debate
on campus, led by invited speakers such as Lenni Brenner at universities in Hamilton, Ontario and Montreal. The number of reported cases of Holocaust
denial/trivialization rose from 15 in 2004 to 39 in 2005. This increase may be ascribed partly to the legitimacy given to revisionism by academia,
which consequently infiltrates mainstream society, without the stigma connected
to overt neo-Nazi activity. In effect, Holocaust denial is no longer the
exclusive domain of the neo-Nazi movement but appears on campuses as
well. A second factor is the recent re-emergence of small Canadian-based
Holocaust Commemoration and Education
Memorial Day, 17 April, is commemorated nationally rather than in certain
provinces, as was previously the case. A community-wide event on Parliament
Hill attracts the participation of Members of Parliament and dignitaries from
across the spectrum of political life. Ceremonies honoring survivors take place
in major centers while specific events such as the League program “Unto Every
Person There is a Name” solicit wide community participation, particularly from
schools. Raoul Wallenberg Day, also a federal initiative, is marked annually on
17 January. The government supports community programming on such commemorative
days, but does not initiate it.
Holocaust education is not mandatory in the school syllabus, though there
is some provision for its inclusion in the history and/or social science
curricula, the onus remaining with individual teachers to take the initiative.
The Law Society of Upper Canada holds a joint program with the League on
Holocaust Memorial Day, to engage members of the legal community, as well as
the general public.
A new series of books suitable for school age children is being planned
by the League. Entitled the ‘Holocaust and Hope Testimony Project’, it is
intended to provide additional age-appropriate material for school boards and
RESPONSES TO RACISM AND ANTISEMITISM
organizations are still not prohibited in the country, putting Canada in continued violation of Article 4(b) of the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It has been proposed that
racist groups and racist symbols be banned in Canada, but this suggestion has
not met with broad public support. The prevailing feeling is that banning such
organizations and the display of their material and propaganda might be too ‘draconian’.
Legal and Legislative Activity
The legal system
was used during 2005 to access protection for victims of hate-related activity,
with varying measures of success. As noted in the past, hate-related incidents
often do not meet the legal criteria for a criminal offense because the
incidents fall outside the restrictive definition of a hate crime under the Criminal
Code. Further, provincial attorneys general are often reluctant to give consent
to hate crimes charges, partly because of the difficulty of obtaining a
conviction. There was, however, an increase in the number of charges laid in
2005 to a total of 37, compared to 12 in 2004,
Of the 829 incidents of antisemitic incidents recorded in 2005, only 32
percent, or 303 incidents, were brought by victims to the attention of law
enforcement agencies, representing a drop from the previous year when 45
percent of incidents were reported to the police. On the other hand, the 37
charges brought in 2005 represented a marked increase compared to 12 in 2004.
A number of hate-related cases in the public eye during 2005 suggest that
hate crimes are finally being treated more seriously. In 2005, following ongoing
delays, aboriginal leader David Ahenakew was convicted of willfully promoting
hatred against Jews. The charges stemmed from a 2002 discussion with a reporter
in which Ahenakew referred to Jews, among other things, as a “disease” and
commented that Hitler was right to “fry” six million of them. The trial judge
found that the comments by Ahenakew “clearly dehumanize the Jewish people” and “invite
extremists to take action against them”. While the matter is currently under
appeal, the trial judge made clear that the illegal promotion of hate falls
beyond the pale of freedom of speech in Canada.
In Mugesera v. Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the
appeal of former Rwandan leader Leon Mugesera who was accused of inciting
genocide in his native country in a 1992 speech that referred to Tusis as
cockroaches which should be exterminated. In upholding the deportation order
issued against Mugesera, the court ruled that the speech, which would have
violated Canada’s hate propaganda laws, constituted crimes against humanity.
The decision thus recognizes the importance of hate speech laws in preventing
An appellate decision in R v. Elms relating to the sale of hate
music CDs in the Toronto area, which sent criminal charges back to trial, also
signaled that hate propaganda provisions could be interpreted in a way to make
them work. Such was also the message in the case of R. v. Krymowski et al
where the Supreme Court of Canada found that charges against individuals who
demonstrated with signs such as “Honk if you hate Gypsies” could proceed
regardless of the wording of the indictment.
Proceedings against Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel, which began in
2003, ended in 2005 when the security certificate issued against him was upheld
and he was deported to his native country Germany to face hate-related charges
2004 and previous reports). In the judgment, Justice Blais of the
Federal Court recognized the impact of Zündel’s hate-related and extremist
activities as a destabilizing force in society. As was the case in the Mugesera
trial noted above, Justice Blais refused to allow the proceedings to be used as
a platform to spread anti-Jewish propaganda alleging Jewish control of the government,
although this was attempted in each case.
There were also encouraging signs in the apparent willingness to use the
criminal system to fight the explosion of hate on the Internet. In 2005,
Alberta-based Reinhard Gusav Mueller (Aka Reni Sentana-Reis) was convicted of
willfully promoting hatred in connection with anti-Jewish comments he posted to
a website. This was the first criminal prosecution related to Internet hate
propaganda to go to trial in Canada. The police force which brought the charges
has been assertive in laying other charges such as one against Glenn Bahr who
allegedly hosted a hate-filled website.
Despite these important advances, there remain several ongoing problems
in the application of hate crime protection. A number of cases heard in 2005
highlight concern that the lenient sentencing handed down fails to deter
further antisemitic activity. Three individuals who overturned tombstones,
broke synagogue windows and vandalized Jewish communal property in a drunken
rampage in 2004 through the main corridor of a predominantly Jewish area of
Toronto (R. v. Vandermay et al) were convicted of simple mischief alone
and received what was described by the League and others as no more than a slap
on the wrist despite the profound impact the actions had on the entire Jewish
community. The adult offender received a conditional sentence of six months,
while the two under-age offenders were sentenced to two years probation, and all
three were only required to pay back a portion of the damage caused.
This case also highlighted a reluctance to lay hate crime charges even in
seemingly clear-cut cases. In another high profile case, little response has
been evident to the October 2004 remarks of Imam Shaykh Younus Kathrada of
Vancouver’s Dar Al-Madinah Islamic Society, who was reported to have preached
in a taped lecture on the society’s website that Jews were the “brothers of the
monkeys and swine” and that, “Once again they’ve shown their treachery… that
they are cowards and that they cannot be trusted.” He is also reported to have
urged Muslims to fight and kill Jews in what he termed an “offensive jihad.”
Police spokespeople continue to indicate that an investigation is ongoing.
Nazi War Criminals
Annual Report on Canada’s Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Program
2004–2005, produced by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration,
Department of Justice and the Solicitor General of Canada, notes that Canada maintains a ‘no safe haven policy’. Yet a review of World War II cases outstanding and
the lack of action therein reveal a different picture. According to the report,
since beginning work, the Department of Justice has examined 1,835 files: One
hundred new allegations were added in 2005 following the completion of a study
of the German pension list, with over 1,000 names provided to the Canadian
government several years earlier. The report notes, that “as of March 2005, 47
WWII files were under active investigation and 246 initial WWII related
allegations were being examined.”
There are three ongoing cases to revoke citizenship based on fraudulent
disclosure currently before the Federal Court of Canada − Joseph Furman
(formerly Furmanchuk), Jura Skomatchuk, and Michael Seifert. The first two, opened
in 2004, involved former guards at the Travniki concentration camp in Poland. Federal Court proceedings continue in the case of Michael Seifert, who is also the
object of an extradition proceeding.
Four cases are currently awaiting a decision of the minister of citizenship
and immigration regarding deportation where Federal Court rulings found the
individuals entered Canada by deception. They are Wasyl Odynsky, Vladimir
Katriuk, Walter Obodzinsky and Jacob Fast. The subject of a fifth case, Michael
Baumgartner, died in 2005. Despite numerous requests by community activists,
the then minister failed to act on the matter before cabinet during 2005.
A number of
community-based initiatives bring together organizations with a human rights
mandate to focus on issues of racism and discrimination, but often there is
resistance to including antisemitism on the agenda, except in a perfunctory
way. Public figures will generally issue a statement of condemnation in
response to high profile incidents of antisemitism, but overall there is
resistance by national anti-racism coalitions to putting antisemitism on a par
with perceived anti-Muslim activity or anti-black discrimination. Jewish human
rights activists have even been told that as Jews they could not possibly
understand the concept of what real victimization means despite the
preponderance of evidence, including police hate crime statistics and surveys by
independent polling companies, which show that Jews are consistently rated top
amongst the groups targeted for hate in the country.