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Newfoundland and Labrador to Launch Antisemitism Campaign

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The Honourable Minister Gerry Byrne of Newfoundland and Labrador (Wikipedia)

August 24, 2023

ST JOHN’S, Nfld. – During a B’nai Brith ZOOM call Tuesday night, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Immigration, Population Growth and Skills Gerry Byrne surprised attendees by announcing a new $250,000 multi-year fund to fight antisemitism and racism in the province.

Minister Byrne indicated that the funding would help to better educate Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to the reality of antisemitism and allow the province to become a beacon both nationally and internationally in combatting Jew hatred.

The Minister praised B’nai Brith for its work with the provincial government that led to it becoming the sixth province to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

He told the meeting that the provincial government’s Ministerial Committee on Anti-Racism is tasked to coordinate concrete and quick action against antisemitism and other forms of hate, rather than to collect data or commission reports.

“We see this funding as flowing from our decision last May to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism so we can actively fight hate aimed at our province’s Jewish community,” said Minister Byrne. “We will not allow those who hate to entrench antisemitism in our province.”

Other speakers during the evening included the Honourable Irwin Cotler, Canada’s former Justice Minister and current Special Envoy for Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, Rabbi Chanan Chernitsky of Chabad of St. John’s and Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights.

The audience was greeted by Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith’s Chief Executive Officer. The call was also attended by Minister John Abbott and Members of the House of Assembly Lucy Stoyles and Paul Dinn.

They were joined by St. John’s City Councillor Ophelia Ravencroft, Inspector Danny Doiron of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, the Very Reverend Roger Whelan, of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Reverend Jason Haggstrom of the Roman Catholic Parish of the Holy Cross of Eastern Newfoundland and a number of high-level civil servants as well as Jewish community leaders.

The meeting reviewed B’nai Brith’s 2022 audit of antisemitic incidents in Canada which showed that the number of such incidents had declined in Atlantic Canada from 80 in 2021 to 56 in 2022 of which 13 were in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“This funding is truly welcome. We laud the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for its leadership in fighting antisemitism and other forms of hate,” said Mr. Rotrand. “The province is indeed a beacon that others should emulate. B’nai Brith offers our on-going collaboration to aid Newfoundland and Labrador to succeed in its goals of eradicating antisemitism and hate.”