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B’nai Brith Standing Up for Jewish Students in Court

An image of Ontario’s Osgoode Hall (Toronto Star)

Jan. 29, 2021

TORONTO – B’nai Brith of Canada League for Human Rights has been granted intervener status for an important case at the Ontario Court of Appeal.
The case involves the provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative policy, which permits Ontario postsecondary students to opt out of paying incidental fees for non-essential services at their schools. Until 2019, these payments had been mandatory for all students. Some of these fees go towards student unions that do not align with the views of many students.
The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is one of the groups seeking to have the policy overturned, claiming that making their fees optional will significantly reduce their ability to function and provide services for students. However, thousands of Ontario students – Jewish and non-Jewish alike – strongly feel that they should never be forced to pay fees to an organization that violates their personal values.
CFS lists support for the BDS movement as an official policy on its website – a policy that all mainstream Jewish and pro-Israel communities consider discriminatory.
B’nai Brith believes that students in Ontario should have every right to choose how to spend their own money, and that they should not be forced to contribute to causes that go against their beliefs – or actively discriminate against them in some cases.
“This is very clearly a freedom-of-conscience issue, and it goes far beyond the Jewish community,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Non-essential campus services have every right to function and provide the services they wish to, but they do not have the right to force their hands into anyone’s pockets.
“CFS claims to represent all students, but we are here to give voice to the thousands of students who do not feel represented by them and have made it clear that they want no part in funding what this organization is financing. The court must also take their perspective into account, and we will do our part to ensure that it does.”
B’nai Brith will be ably represented by David Elmaleh and Aaron Rosenberg of RE-LAW.
B’nai Brith has been heavily involved in this issue since the very beginning. In 2019, we led a highly successful campaign along with several other Jewish organizations calling on students to opt out of paying fees to groups that support BDS. B’nai Brith also intervened in the original court case.
B’nai Brith recently launched the Matas Law Society, a platform for Jewish legal professionals and students concerned about human rights and antisemitism. If you are interested in using your legal skills and experience to help the community in cases such as this one, please CLICK HERE to join.