15 Hove Street
December 2, 2019
TO: The Honourable François-Philiipe Champagne, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1G 0A2
FROM: B’nai Brith Canada
SUBJECT: Your Mandate to Combat Antisemitism and Protect the Interests of Canada’s Jewish Community
The scourge of antisemitism is global in nature as are the increasing threats of Holocaust denial and distortion and attempts to isolate Israel internationally. Canada’s international policy, including its development assistance activities, should be geared to combatting these threats. As you assume your responsibilities, we look to your leadership on the key issues. In this same vein, we have written both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Your mandate, from us, includes the following:
- As part of the Anti-Racism Strategy, the Government committed to adopting the definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Your department should play a lead role in ensuring implementation in full of the IHRA definition, working in consultation with representative Jewish community organizations such as B’nai Brith Canada.
- The IHRA, and organizations such as UNESCO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have produced insightful materials on education about the Holocaust and antisemitism. Working with other departments, your officials should ensure that these materials are diligently promoted across Canada for use by the provinces and territories in development of stronger, mandatory education curricula.
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3. We must challenge all those who distort the historical record on governments, military units or organizations that fought with, supported or sympathized with the Nazis during World War II. This includes government leaders who acquiesce in, or fail to condemn, a process of Nazi glorification that amounts to Holocaust distortion. You should ensure Canadian officials speak openly and candidly against Nazi and neo-Nazi glorification whenever and wherever it.
4. We have called repeatedly for a national action plan to combat antisemitism, under federal leadership, with the appointment of a national coordinator reporting to the Prime Minister. In parallel, your Department should create the position of Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism, with a mandate to share best practices with other countries and international organizations and apply what lessons we learn from them in a domestic context. This Special Envoy should also be Canada’s Ambassador to IHRA. We have already provided thoughts to your officials.
5. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief recently authored a landmark report on antisemitism. Your department should act on Dr. Ahmed Shaheed’s recommendations. Using the human rights-based approach he advocated, this should mean that provision of Canadian development assistance resources and Government assessments of a country’s human rights record, will include a component related to antisemitism. No country or institution should benefit from Canadian support absent a commitment to combat antisemitism. We trust you to collaborate closely to this end with the Minister of International Development.
6. We underscore the importance of the Minister of Public Safety designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in its entirety as a terrorist entity. We depend on you fully to endorse this and on Global Affairs Canada to support this decision through its information-gathering and assessment resources.
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7. There are significant deficiencies in the mandate and operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). There should be no future funding of or Canadian support to UNRWA, absent fundamental reforms to the mandate and oversight of that agency and concrete measures to address both mismanagement and removal of education materials inciting hate and violence towards Israel and the Jewish people.
8. You should make a commitment to not re-engage Iran diplomatically unless it commits to fully recognizing Israel’s right to exist, to refrain from supporting destabilizing groups such as Hezbollah, and to not using any diplomatic presence in Canada to frustrate the interests of the Iranian-Canadian community and Canada’s Jewish community.
9. We underscore the importance of the Minister of Public Safety proceeding immediately with the deportation of former Nazis or Nazi war criminals, particularly Helmut Oberlander, and to complete transparency in releasing historical records related to the presence of such individuals in Canada. Your Department will play a vital role in reviewing its records and in exchanges with other countries and international institutions to this end.
10. Canada has signed but not ratified or implemented the 2002 Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (concerning the criminalization of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems), to which Canada has been a signatory for many years. You should lead in expediting ratification and implementation of the Additional Protocol to support the fight against online hate and antisemitism.
11. Despite a reasonable voting record against UN resolutions unfairly targeting Israel, Canada disappointed us with its recent vote on Palestinian self-determination. You should reassure Jewish Canadians – indeed, all Canadians – that there is no diminishing in Canada’s steadfast support for Israel in the United Nations, including specialized agencies such as UNESCO and the WHO . You should voice Canada’s concerns with the unfair targeting of Israel by bodies such as the Human Rights Council. The government’s actions must match its words. Your predecessor said: “"Canada's commitment to Israel's security is unwavering and ironclad." This position must be sustained and strengthened under your lead.
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12. In February, 2016, the House of Commons rejected the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and called upon the Government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad. Prime Minister Trudeau has condemned BDS on several occasions. We depend on you and your officials to reinforce this position in advocacy with other governments and international institutions.
In summary, the growth in antisemitism in Canada is worrying. The issue is not confined to Canada alone. Several recent studies have brought to light alarming trends internationally. The efforts to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion, and counter the anti-Israel bias within the United Nations framework that feeds these phenomena, must be global. Your mandate will be to ensure that Canada pursues a principled and values-based approach in leading efforts to confront these challenges.
Chief Executive Officer