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Do more to address hate, Jewish groups say, as Ottawa youth faces explosives charges

National Post

Dec 19, 2023

Do more to address hate, Jewish groups say, as Ottawa youth faces charges | National Post

OTTAWA — Jewish groups are calling for more to be done to address hate after the arrest of an Ottawa youth in an alleged plot against the Jewish community.

The RCMP has confirmed that the youth arrested last week on terrorism charges has been charged with three additional offences after police executed a search warrant, including possession of explosives with intent to endanger life.

Police say they found materials used for creating explosive substances. A source close to the case said Monday that the court information indicated the explosives were acetone and an oxidizer.

Jewish Federation of Ottawa interim CEO Sarah Beutel said in a statement Tuesday that the charges are a staggering development due to unchecked antisemitism, and school leaders and governments must address hate speech.

She said her group is “calling on leaders in schools, on university campuses, all levels of government and other institutions to take notice that they are accountable for what is being said and shared.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an interview with Global News that the arrest was “an extremely important moment where we’re demonstrating that we are doing everything we can to keep the Jewish community in this country safe.”

In the interview published Tuesday afternoon, Trudeau called the rise of antisemitism in Canada linked to the Israel-Hamas war “terrifying,” and said it’s something the government is acting on.

The federal public safety minister announced an additional $5 million in funding Tuesday for a temporary program to help communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes, citing a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The money is expected to help secure sites such as office spaces and daycares, including with the hiring of “time-limited” security guards.

Jewish and Muslim leaders across Canada have reported an increase in hate-motivated attacks since Hamas terrorists launched an attack in Israel on Oct. 7, prompting a massive Israeli military response in the Gaza Strip.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said Tuesday that the Liberal government should have introduced long-promised online harms legislation by now.

The Liberals promised to introduce the legislation in the first 100 days after their 2021 election victory. Justice Minister Arif Virani recently said he hopes to bring the bill forward some time next year.

Richard Marceau, vice-president of external affairs at CIJA, said if that bill had been tabled, “I think we could have seen a different conversation online, and we know that what happens online doesn’t stay online.”

He said the terrorism charges in Ottawa came as a shock, but also were not surprising given the current atmosphere.

“We’ve been telling governments, police forces and everybody who would listen, and we’re now seeing a form of antisemitism that is potentially violent and very lethal and dangerous,” he said, noting incidents such as Molotov cocktails thrown at a synagogue and community centre in Montreal and a bomb threat at a school in Toronto.

“Jews across the country feel threatened. They feel besieged. They are worried for themselves and for their children.”

In a note to supporters on Tuesday, the centre urged people experiencing antisemitism at schools and universities to come forward and put their names to complaints, saying it would provide legal support.

Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, another advocacy organization, said in a statement that the charges against the Ottawa youth should be a wake-up call.

“We are failing our youth when they are allowed to witness domestic radicals engage in ongoing public hate against the Jewish community across the country, week after week,” he said.

The RCMP repeated in a statement late Monday that it is concerned about “the growing trend of violent extremism” and “in particular, the increase in youth involvement.”

Five Canadian youth have been arrested in terror-related cases since June.