where the parties stand
Where the Major Political Parties Stand
On June 2 Ontario voters choose their next provincial Government. Jews comprise 1.25% of the Canadian population. Half of the Canadian Jewish population resides in Ontario. To allow voters in the Jewish community to make an informed choice, B’nai Brith Canada is surveying the political parties as to their positions regarding issues of concern to our community.
Parties offering candidates in 75% of the provincial seats and polling 7.5% in at least two recent public polls are invited to respond to B’nai Brith. We thank you for your participation.
Question 1: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
Canada has been a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA) Alliance since 2009 and has adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism in 2019 as part of its 2019-2022 Anti-Racism Strategy. At the October 13, 2021, Malmo International Forum to Combat Antisemitism, Prime Minister Trudeau on behalf of Canada, committed to a more robust implementation of the IHRA definition across all Government departments and civil society. Canada’s pledge can be consulted through the following link:
In fact, the Government of Ontario adopted the IHRA definition by Order in Council in October 2020.
In regard to the IHRA definition of antisemitism:
What measures would your government institute to ensure that the IHRA definition applies and is followed by all government departments, the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal law enforcement agencies?
Firstly, Ontario is the first Canadian province to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, Bill 168, a private member’s bill to recognize the IHRA definition was introduced in December 2019. Following that in October 2020, the Government of Ontario, under the leadership of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, adopted the IHRA definition by Order in Council. Where the opposition said no for 15 years, this government said yes by taking swift and decisive action to adopt and recognize the Working Definition of Antisemitism as adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The IHRA working definition was created to be used as a non-legally binding guide and educational tool to help policymakers and stakeholders address the ever-evolving scourge of antisemitism. The Ontario NDP supports the use of the definition in that fashion. We believe that the province of Ontario must have a clear definition of antisemitism so we can better gauge, report and work towards ending it. New Democrats continue to support Israel’s right to exist, and we are unequivocally against the use of any antisemitic tropes or communications that are discriminatory against the Jewish community.
Question 2: Universities
Throughout the modern era, antisemitism has increased dramatically on university campuses across Canada. Moreover, Jews have been rendered synonymous with the politics of the state of Israel, and, as a result, individual Jewish faculty members and students have often become the focal point for any antisemitic hate and violence that is related to the state of Israel and the Israel-Palestinian Conflict, regardless of their own personal political ideology or beliefs.
How will your party help to effectively combat antisemitism on university and college campuses across Ontario?
Will you mandate that every university in Ontario adopt and apply the IHRA definition of antisemitism?
Question 3: Boycott, Divest and Sanction Movement
Jews have been indigenous to Israel for thousands of years and there is immense attachment and a sense of pride in the Canadian Jewish community in Israel’s accomplishments as an independent and democratic state.
This year represents the 75th anniversary of the United Nations vote that gave birth to the Jewish state with Canada being among the nations voting in favour of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in its historic homeland. The relationship between Canada and Israel has always been strong.
However, Israel’s right to exist has always been challenged, first by hostile neighbouring states that failed in repeated military attacks to defeat it, next by a decade of coordinated terrorist attacks which featured repeated suicide bombings and now by efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state as part of an international Boycott, Divest and Sanction (B.D.S.) movement.
In 2019, Germany’s Parliament adopted a resolution condemning B.D.S stating that the campaign to boycott Israeli products, along with the movement’s “Don’t Buy” stickers, recalled the most terrible chapter in German history and revived memories of the Nazi motto “Don’t buy from Jews.” The resolution concluded that the pattern of argument and methods of the B.D.S. movement are antisemitic.
Accordingly, Germany vowed not to fund any organizations that question Israel’s right to exist, call for a boycott of Israel or actively support B.D.S.
Germany’s leadership has been emulated by other jurisdictions including Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, and many American states. In fact, in 2016 our Parliament adopted its own motion that stated Canada would “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the B.D.S movement, both here at home and abroad”. However, Parliament’s motion is largely symbolic.
- If elected to government, would your party bring a motion to the legislature condemning the B.D.S. movement as inherently antisemitic and vow not to fund any organizations that question Israel’s right to exist, call for a boycott of Israel or actively support B.D.S.?
- In February, the United Kingdom parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of an amendment which would ban public sector employees from boycotting Israeli investments within their pension funds. The amendment to the Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices prohibits authorities administering public sector pension schemes from making investment decisions that conflict with the UK’s foreign and defense policy.
If forming the next government, would your party prevent pension funds under provincial jurisdiction from boycotting Israeli investments?
Question 4: Resources to Combat Hate Crimes
In its 2020 annual report on crime in Canada, Statistics Canada (The Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics) reported that crime nationally declined to its lowest level in years, but the first year of the pandemic saw 718 more police-reported hate crimes compared with 2019, a 37% increase.
The 2669 police-reported hate crimes in 2020 were the largest number recorded since comparable data became available in 2009. This increase was largely the result of more police-reported hate crimes targeting the Black community, the East and Southeast Asian population, and the South Asian population.
However, the explosion of hate targeting Asians and Blacks did not mean that the haters shifted their focus away from religious communities.
Statistics Canada compiles hate crimes into several categories, namely: Race or Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Other Motivation, Motivation Unknown and Religion. Overall Statistics Canada remarked that the number of reported incidents in the “religion” category decreased from 613 in 2019 to 515 in 2020, but that does not mean the situation has improved for the Jewish community in Canada.
Statistics Canada noted that hate aimed at Jews represented by far the largest number of police-reported hate crimes aimed at a religious minority. The numbers were startling; 321 of the aforementioned 515 police-reported hate crimes in 2020 targeted Jews.
Thus, 61% of the reported hate crimes aimed at religious groups in 2020 targeted Jews.
- If elected to government what specific measures would your party take to address the reality that hate crimes against Jews, logged year in and year out as representing more than half of such crimes, is reduced?
- Does your party propose any changes or additional funding for the Ontario Antiracism Directorate to make it more effective and more sensitive to antisemitism?
- Some members of the Jewish community have stated a belief that the Ontario Anti-racism strategic plan does not address the reality of antisemitism. Does your party share or reject this belief? If your party believes that the strategic plan needs to be improved on addressing antisemitism, what would you propose to do?
- If elected to government, would your party provide any additional resources, oblige municipal police forces to have a hate crimes unit, oblige annual reports to provide a portrait of hate crimes, improve training and encourage more regular dialogue between police and racial and religious minorities?
The Ontario PC’s have taken swift action against antisemitism and we are committed to continue to make the necessary investments to ensure staff and students are safe, and can work and learn in an inclusive environment. We have increased investments from $2.4 million to $3.2 million for the Priorities and Partnerships Fund to combat racism and to provide newcomer and culturally appropriate mental health supports in schools.
The Ontario PC’s recognize the damage that the BDS movement causes to Jewish businesses and students alike. We have been steadfast on our stance that hatred and antisemitism have no place anywhere in Ontario. We have been working with organizations like Hillel to ensure students feel safe on their post-secondary campuses.
The rise in hate crimes targeted at the Jewish community is alarming. That’s why we continue to make investments, like an additional $8.1 million to help rid Ontario of racism and hate. This included doubling the Anti-Racism Anti-Hate Grant program to $3.2 million and ensuring free speech is protect on campuses. Our government is committed to ensuring equitable opportunities, meaningful experiences, and successful outcomes for every student in Ontario.
2. An Ontario NDP government will fight antisemitism in schools and post-secondary education as a key component of an anti-racism strategy in education. As part of this strategy, our platform also commits to ensuring that students learn about antisemitism with a focus on the history of the Holocaust to prevent the insidious spread of Holocaust denial.
3. a. The Ontario NDP in no way endorses or supports the BDS movement, which should not be used to replace good-faith efforts to negotiate a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. New Democrats support a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine that respects human rights and international law. We also recognize that Canadians have the right to freedom of expression and the choice to protest in non-violent movements. Protest movements, however, should never become spaces where antisemitism, racism or hate is accepted.
b. As indicated above, the Ontario NDP in no way endorse or support the BDS movement. New Democrats also believe that public funds should not support programs that encourage a sense of hatred against the Jewish community or any other community.
4. a. The Ontario NDP is deeply concerned about the rise of antisemitism seen in Ontario, Canada and elsewhere, including an increasing number of violent incidents targeting Jewish Canadians. In response to rising hate, the Ontario NDP recently tabled a bill that would establish a provincial review of hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents in Ontario and dismantle white supremacist and alt-right extremist groups. An Ontario NDP government would also designate safe zones around houses of worship, like synagogues, and provide additional funding to assist with security costs, like the hiring of security guards. To reduce hate crimes, there is also a need to prevent them from happening in the first place, which is reflected in our commitments to fight antisemitism in schools and post-secondary, as well as other measures such as expanding and fully funding the Anti-Racism Directorate.
b. In stark contrast to Doug Ford’s cuts to the Anti-Racism Directorate, an NDP government would appoint a minister responsible for anti-racism and fully fund the Anti-Racism Directorate into a full secretariat that prioritizes addressing antisemitism.
c. The Ontario Anti-racism strategic plan and anti-racism efforts in this province have been significantly impacted by underfunding and cuts to anti-racism work by the Conservative government. The Ontario Anti-racism strategic plan must be improved to adequately address the reality of antisemitism. This includes establishing the Anti-Racism Directorate as a fully funded secretariat and the creation of a permanent Anti-Racism Advisory and Advocacy Council with representation from the Jewish community and other communities impacted by racism. This is in addition to our commitments to expand a dedicated anti-racism strategy into schools and post-secondary to address antisemitism and ensure that students learn the history of the Holocaust in school.
d. An Ontario NDP government will strengthen police oversight that was left to erode under Liberal and Conservative governments. It is also important that Ontarians have access to accurate data. To that end, the Ontario NDP recently tabled a bill that would establish a provincial review of hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents in Ontario while also designating safe zones around houses of worship. This in addition to our commitment to introduce mandatory anti-oppression and anti-bias training for all public employees to promote sensitivity and awareness to the communities they serve.
Question 5: Celebrating Jewish Heritage
Approximately 400 000 Jewish people live in Canada, more than half of which live in Ontario. This firmly ensconces Canada’s Jewish community as the fourth-largest Jewish population in the entire world. Moreover, the Jewish community in Canada has consistently made significant contributions to the wellbeing, growth, and prosperity of their Canadian homeland throughout its proud history, even though Canada’s Jews have unequivocally been forced to overcome a plethora of tremendous obstacles, and hardship.
In 2018, the Canadian Parliament adopted Bill S-232, ‘An Act Respecting Canadian Jewish Heritage Month’, and thereby, explicitly designated the month of May as ‘Jewish Heritage Month’ throughout Canada, to recognize the incredible contributions that Jewish Canadians have made to Canada’s society.
Would your party endeavour to honour the historic contributions of Canadian Jews and ensure that Jewish Heritage Month is celebrated in a manner akin to other nationally recognized social initiatives in Canada, such as Black History Month?
The Ontario PC Party is proud to celebrate May as Jewish Heritage month. With over 200,000 people in Ontario who are part of the Jewish community, we are proud to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions that the Jewish community has made to Ontario. With 57% of the Jewish population in Canada calling Ontario home, it is important that we recognize these contributions from health care innovations to the justice system.
Federally, New Democrats voted to recognize May 2018 as the first national Jewish Heritage Month. To ensure it goes well beyond being a month in name, an Ontario NDP government would also ensure that the province is there to support Jewish initiatives to raise awareness of Jewish heritage during this period in particular.
Question 6: Facilitating Minority Candidates for Ontario’s Police Departments
Modern day Ontario is becoming increasingly diverse. The province’s population hails from the four corners of the globe and includes significant and diverse racial and religious minorities.
Police services across the province have endeavoured to evolve to better serve a more diverse population. There have been efforts to reach out to minority candidates to invite them to consider a career in policing. Annual reports show that the composition of many of Ontario’s police departments today better reflects the population served.
However, many police departments have not modified their rules as to officers’ uniforms thus inadvertently continuing to place a barrier to minority candidates who wear religious symbols such as a kippah, a turban, or a hijab. While some departments such as Ottawa’s do have an approved hijab and are flexible toward Jewish or Sikh candidates regarding the wearing of a kippah or turban, most departments have rules that prohibit these signs of faith.
If elected to government, would your party adopt a province wide rule obliging police departments to accommodate otherwise qualified candidates whose entry into a police department is barred by police uniform rules that do not allow religious symbols such as kippahs, turbans, and hijabs?
Since forming government in 2018, the Ontario PCs have been working to ensure representation of all Ontarians in every profession. We made sure to allow the Sikh community to observe their customs by removing motorcycle helmet requirements. As well, we have been working with police service boards and the like to ensure wide representation of the communities they serve and protect.
The Ontario NDP has long opposed this practice, including our condemnation of the imposition of such limits by bill 21 in Quebec. We’ve condemned the Ford government for their silence on Bill 21 and not doing more to protect religious freedom of expression and New Democrats will continue to defend these rights.
Question 7: Public Transit
Jewish voters share the same concerns as to bread-and-butter issues as all other voters. Public transportation and mobility are a daily concern that affects all communities.
During the Covid pandemic, public transit ridership has collapsed. Changing habits such as working from home and online shopping will have a long-term impact on the rebuilding of transit ridership. However, over time, and with projected population growth, there will be a need for modern, clean, and efficient public transport in Ontario.
If elected to government how would your party address the following public transit issues:
- Ontario transport agencies have among the highest fares in the country (example TTC monthly pass $156 adult, reduced fare $128.15 vs STM Montreal monthly pass $90.50, reduced fare $54). Would your party aid cities in subsidizing transit operational budgets to freeze or lower fares to attract riders? Would your party aid riders through other means such as tax credits to lessen the burden of high fares?
- There is a growing global movement to convert bus fleets to fully electric vehicles. The TTC is taking a leap forward in its efforts for total fleet electrification by purchasing another 300 electric buses to add to its existing 60 pure electric vehicle fleet, which is already among the largest of any city in North America. These vehicles are scheduled to enter service starting in 2023 with the last new entirely electric bus to be acquired by 2025.
However, the pace of electrification in Ontario, while welcome, is more modest than that experienced in parts of Asia and Europe.
What measures would your party put in place to spur the purchase of 100% electric zero emission buses by transit operators in Ontario? It should be noted that the purchase of vehicles is only part of the equation as charging facilities need to be constructed and existing bus garages and depots would need to be retrofitted. Would your party subsidize such costs for transit operators?
With historic investments in the EV sector, we are turning Ontario into an EV hub, while creating more jobs. Our focus is to ensure Ontario becomes the place where all components of EVs are built. From the vehicles themselves, to their batteries, the critical minerals needed for the batteries and green steel, we are transforming the province into an EV manufacturing powerhouse. Our plan is working, as demonstrated by the billions in investments that companies like Honda, GM and Ford have made here, securing thousands of well paying manufacturing jobs. Our government invested over $90 million to install more charging stations across the province. Only our government has secured such massive investments in the EV sector.
- An NDP government would significantly invest in transit to improve service, reduce wait times and make municipal transit systems more affordable. This includes restoring 50% provincial funding for municipal transit and paratransit operations — which was cut by the Harris PC government, stayed cut under the Liberal government, and then was cut again by the Ford government. Our platform also commits to implementing a two-hour, flat rate fare across municipal transit systems in the GTHA, ensuring seamless travel for riders. This is on top of our commitment to improve two-way, all-day GO service between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, and expanding year-round, daily-or-better service to Bowmanville, Grimsby and Niagara.
- New Democrats have committed go provide provincial support for all transit fleets to be electrified by 2040, and to take immediate steps to electrify the GO Train network on an accelerated timeline to replace dirty diesel trains along all lines.
Question 8: Housing
Toronto has for the first time in decades overtaken Vancouver as the most expensive market for real estate in Canada. Data from local real estate boards, that showed Toronto’s composite MLS home price index benchmark of $1.260 million, overtook Vancouver’s benchmark price of $1.255 in January. If anything, the phenomenal increase in housing prices has accelerated in Q1 2022.
The WOWA.ca portrait of housing prices notes a 28% year over year increase in home prices in the Greater Toronto Area between February 2021 and February 2022. Price rises varied by category but significantly outstripped inflation. Condo prices rose +25% year over year, Townhouses by 33%, semi-detached homes by 29% and detached homes by 31%
While there are buyers, price growth means it becomes more difficult for young families and persons of more modest means to aspire to home ownership.
It is also fuelling urban sprawl as builders seek cheaper land away from the centre core to offer housing at a more modest price. Sprawl threatens green spaces and adds costs to the province as new communities need infrastructure particularly for public transit, highways, schools, hospitals, as well as municipal infrastructure investments to allow growing communities to serve their residents needs in their own communities while providing easy access to jobs and services in the core.
The model is not environmentally friendly or sustainable in the long term. Moreover, in its population projections issued in June 2021 the Government of Ontario wrote that “The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is projected to be the fastest growing region, with its population increasing by 2.9 million, or 40.9 per cent, from 7.1 million in 2020 to over 10.0 million by 2046. The GTA’s share of provincial population is projected to rise from 48.0 per cent in 2020 to 49.8 per cent in 2046.”
Population growth increases demand for housing and implies prices will continue to skyrocket unless the affordable housing stock grows as well. Moreover, rising housing prices affect rents and are a prime factor in a growing problem of homelessness.
The possibility of several interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada over the next year to tackle inflation is considered likely and while it may indeed, at least temporarily, hamper continued housing price increases in the GTA, it will simply make it even more expensive for many families to purchase.
B’nai Brith Canada is a premier provider of sustainable and affordable housing in Canada. We began our Affordable Housing Program in 1979 in efforts to provide and maintain affordable, secure, and welcoming housing for low to moderate income and disabled residents, in a friendly and culturally familiar setting. These are important factors especially for our elderly from various multi cultural communities.
- If elected to government what measures would your party put in place to ensure an adequate stock of affordable housing in the GTA and elsewhere in Ontario?
- Would your government make it easier for first-time home buyers to enter the real estate market? If so, how would that be made possible?
- Does your party have a plan to stimulate housing starts in Ontario? Would your party make it obligatory for municipalities to require there to be mandatory social and affordable housing in all new construction projects that deliver 50 units or more? What is your affordable housing plan?
In response to affordable housing, the Ontario PC’s believe that everyone deserves to have a place to call home. Our PC government is getting it done by helping more families realize the dream of home ownership every day. Ontarians remember how affordable housing prices were 15 years ago before the Liberals and NDP bungled the housing file. At the end of the day, the biggest issue fueling the housing crisis is not enough homes. That’s why our government introduced legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to help build new homes in Ontario. We are fixing barriers to building new homes, while protecting health, safety, the environment, the Greenbelt, and agricultural lands. This approach is working. Our housing supply plan helped over 100,000 new homes start construction last year, the highest in more than 30 years or anytime during the Del Duca-Wynne Liberals. While the Liberals and NDP are more interested in currying favour from downtown activists, we are going to build more homes.
The Liberals had 15 years to fix the affordable housing crisis yet chose not to, while Doug Ford keeps looking for ways to help his wealthy developer buddies and billionaire investors rake in maximum profits. Only New Democrats can be counted on to take the necessary steps to spur housing supply in the GTA and across Ontario. This includes ending exclusionary zoning, increasing the supply of housing options that are affordable, in complete communities where people want to live, while holding the line on costly sprawl. We will also get inclusionary zoning back on track, requiring developers to include affordable homes in their projects, so people of all incomes can continue living in their growing communities.
- When families are looking to buy their first home, instead of competing with other families looking for a place to live they are bidding against investors with deep pockets which stacks the deck against them. Our Home in Ontario Program looks to level the playing field as part of our broader Homes You Can Afford platform. In addition to measures targeting speculators driving up the cost of housing, our plan would create a shared equity loan of up to 10% of a home’s value for first-time homebuyers with a deferred repayment plan. The program will be available for those whose household income is less than $200,000 annually.
- Years of chronic underfunding of social housing by Liberal and Conservative governments have led to poor housing supply. In addition to ensuring inclusionary zoning, as part of our Homes You Can Afford housing platform we will build 100,000 units of social housing while repairing 260,000 units and extending their lifespan. The NDP will also preserve affordability for renters by bringing back real rent control of all apartments so that tenants pay what the last tenant paid, reducing incentives for landlords to squeeze tenants out of more affordable rent.