Oct. 4, 2022
QUEBEC CITY – B’nai Brith Canada congratulates Francois Legault and his Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) on the party’s victory in Quebec’s provincial election.
Our organization, however, also urges Legault et al to prioritize enhancing their relationship with the province’s Jewish community.
We ask the Government of Quebec to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. Last September 23, Alberta executed the adoption via an Order in Council to become only the second Canadian province to commit to implementing IHRA through the whole of government.
“There appears to be a misconception that Quebec has already adopted IHRA – and that’s inaccurate,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “A motion presented to the National Assembly on June 4, 2021 in favour of the adoption of the IHRA definition failed to receive the necessary unanimous consent required after the left wing anti-Israel Quebec Solidaire party blocked the required debate.”
Rotrand said the only followup was a statement made on June 9, 2021, in the National Assembly, by Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment and for the Fight Against Racism. He indicated the Government would adopt the IHRA definition but the Minister’s statement was never followed up on despite repeated outreach from B’nai Brith.
Charette wrote to B’nai Brith last February 22 to explain why no Order in Council had been adopted, stating, “We have carried out verifications since our last exchange. To adopt a decree, we would need to be able to link it to a framework law (for example on the fight against racism), which to my surprise does not exist. We are examining what form a bill could be developed to constitute such a framework law.”
Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said: “We disagree with the Government’s interpretation of whether it has the power to adopt IHRA via an Order in Council. But if that is its position, we ask Premier Legault to table a Government motion. Unanimous consent is not required for a Government motion and yesterday’s election results show that an overwhelming majority of MNAs would vote for the IHRA motion.”
As well, Mostyn said B’nai Brith would ask that the Government consider minor amendments to Bill 96 that could aid the Jewish community in recruiting clergy from outside Canada. B’nai Brith has already told the Government that the existing legislation does not promote French but only serves to make it almost impossible for synagogues and yeshivas to hire rabbis and other clergy.
B’nai Brith remains adamantly opposed to Bill 21, a law that precludes observant Jews from working in public service. Quebec is the only jurisdiction in North America to have such a law. It flies in the face of centuries of reform designed to remove discrimination against religious minorities.