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B’nai Brith Urges B.C. to Adopt IHRA’s Definition of Antisemitism

BC Premier John Horgan (CBC)

June 21, 2022

VANCOUVER – B’nai Brith Canada is calling on British Columbia to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

B.C. Premier John Horgan has voiced his support for the Federal Government’s adoption of IHRA, but the definition still has not been adopted in the province. Thus, B’nai Brith is again asking that B.C. take the logical step of formalizing its support for the definition.

“We’ve reached out to British Columbia repeatedly,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “But neither the Premier’s letter of June 14, which is public, nor the Anti-Racism Data Act law since June 2, indicates that IHRA is now the province’s policy. In fact, Jews aren’t even mentioned in the Act.”

The Premier’s May 2 press release says: “As a step to dismantle systemic racism and discrimination faced by Indigenous, Black and people of colour, the Province is introducing the Anti-Racism Data Act.”

While B’nai Brith welcomes efforts to combat hate aimed at identifiable groups, the Jewish community had asked that B.C. follow Ontario’s lead and specifically adopt IHRA.

Recent published messages inaccurately suggested B.C. had adopted the definition but, in the aforementioned letter of June 14, Horgan did not specify that his province has adopted the IHRA definition. This is how he alluded to the topic: “The Province of British Columbia fully supports the Federal Government’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism and rejects all forms of discrimination as outlined in Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy.”

The Premier acknowledged that the IHRA definition is important to clarify what is and what is not antisemitism. Nowhere in his letter, however, does he commit to do more than collect data and then engage in dialogue with the Jewish community.

“B’nai Brith met with Finance Minister Selina Robinson and MLA Rachina Singh, whose dossier includes systemic racism and combating hate aimed at minorities,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “We have asked British Columbia to explicitly adopt IHRA in the province, given its effectiveness in combating antisemitism and the fact that 27 U.S. states have already done so.”

B’nai Brith’s 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents noted an alarming increase in hate aimed at Jews in B.C. with incidents ballooning from 194 in 2020 to 409. Jews comprise 1.25% of Canada’s population and were, according to Statistics Canada, the victims of 61% of all police-reported hate crimes in 2021 targeting a religious minority.