April 6, 2022
The time has come in our country to implement and enforce its hate-crimes laws, according to the Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
In a new book called Inspiring Canadians – 40 Brilliant Canadians and Their Visions for the Nation – Michael Mostyn suggested the need for specific hate crime laws, in order to have our legal system better deal with this important, serious and recurring problem.
The book, published by Douglas & McIntyre, was written by Mark Bulgutch, a former CBC producer who worked closely for decades with former anchor Peter Mansbridge, who wrote the book’s foreword.
Mostyn was one of the 40 Canadians chosen for separate chapters in the book. Others include Perry Bellegarde on upholding the rights of Indigenous people, Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie on the importance of his league, Ontario Supreme Court Justice Michael Tulloch, and former politician Michael Levitt, who discusses the value of Members of Parliament.
In the chapter devoted to him, which is entitled Standing Up Against Intolerance, Mostyn reveals an assortment of insightful details about hate and the plague of antisemitism in Canada.
“We’ve started pushing for. . .special training in law enforcement to handle hate crimes,” Mostyn divulges. “There should be a police hate-crimes unit in every city in Canada with over 200,000 people. Many cities already have those units, but is everybody on the force aware of their responsibilities? Do we have crown attorneys looking to deal with these issues? Hate-crimes cases can be complicated.
“We’ve often brought forward cases based on newspaper articles that attack Jews, written in a foreign language. Was the judicial system going to pick that up on its own? Very unlikely. It’s human nature not to want to deal with things that are complicated and time-consuming.”
Mostyn says in the book that B’nai Brith Canada interacts with many great police officers who are very dedicated and want to see haters face justice. “On the other hand,” he adds, “there are a lot of examples of the police just wanting complainants to go away.”
Mostyn relates an interesting anecdote of when he personally visited a police station to report a hate rally that took place in a city square. “There were 200 people chanting and yelling threats against Jews,” he says. “In this case, the chanting was in Arabic, so of course the police didn’t understand the real violence that was being threatened. I explained it to the desk officer, who looked at me as if to ask, ‘What planet are you from?’”
Mostyn offers descriptions of the types of hate and antisemitism that have been occurring in Canada.
“Vandalism takes place with too much frequency,” he says. “We see the swastika painted. Cemeteries are often targeted, gravestones toppled and destroyed. We see derogatory terms about Jews written. People’s homes are defaced. Mezuzah scrolls, which are on the door frame of almost every Jewish home even when the occupants aren’t particularly religious, have been desecrated.”
Driveways and garage doors at Jewish homes are vandalized regularly, Mostyn says, “and it’s traumatic. You think you’re the same as everybody else. All of a sudden, somebody reminds you that you aren’t, and it’s sickening.”
The leader of B’nai Brith Canada, a lawyer by trade, Mostyn mentions in Inspiring Canadians that it is essential for Jews to look forward to the future with hope.
“We don’t view ourselves, by and large, as victims,” he says. “We try not to dwell on the past but would rather move forward. Canada is a great country with a diverse population that can do wonderful things. Yet antisemitism is real. It’s happening. And no one should be satisfied with the status quo.”
If you witness antisemitism in Canada, please message us through our anti-hate app link.