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?
In preparation for this year’s election, B’nai Brith Canada posed questions to the four major national political parties. We asked the parties for their detailed views on issues affecting members of the Canadian Jewish community.
Following are the parties’ responses, including what they have told us directly and statements made publicly or conveyed through their websites. Our objective is to assist voters as the Sept. 20 Election Day approaches.
We ask readers to reflect carefully the party responses in this summary.
The Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party’s published platform, in a section entitled ‘A Stronger Canada,’ includes commitments to combating hate and antisemitism. The Liberal Party underscores key achievements in recent years, including appointing Canada’s first Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, The Honourable Irwin Cotler, and convening Canada’s first National Summit on Antisemitism.
In recent months, Party leader Justin Trudeau has called out the unacceptable nature of rising antisemitic acts in Canada. At the National Summit on Antisemitism, Mr. Trudeau, as Prime Minister, emphasized that “antisemitism isn’t a problem for the Jewish community to solve alone – it’s everyone’s challenge.”
The Liberal Party states that, in order to tackle antisemitism and hate, it is necessary to acknowledge its existence and directly identify it. The party points to the June 2019 adoption by the Liberal-led government of the definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The party commits to strengthening efforts to adopt and implement the IHRA Definition across Canada.
Mr. Trudeau has spoken out against the boycott, divestment & sanctions (BDS) movement. At a Jan. 15, 2019 town-hall meeting at Brock University, he said a Liberal government “will continue to condemn the BDS movement… when you have students on campus dealing with things like Israel apartheid weeks that make them [Jewish students] fearful of actually attending campus events because of their religion in Canada, we have to recognize that there are things that aren’t acceptable, not because of foreign policy concerns, but because of Canadian values.” This position was reiterated at the National Summit on Antisemitism.
The Liberal Party acknowledges that, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the level and intensity of online hate has sharply increased and that the Jewish community knows all too well how social media can amplify that hate. The party states that a re-elected Liberal government will be committed to pursuing previous legislative efforts to combat serious forms of harmful content online, specifically hate speech, terrorist content, and content that incites violence, ensuring that social media platforms are held accountable.
Since 2015, the Liberal Party notes that the Government has quadrupled funding for the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) to enhance security in places like synagogues, schools and community centres, and improve protections for communities at-risk of hate motivated violence, such as the Jewish community. The party commits to ensuring the SIP responds to the Jewish community’s needs and understands that Jewish Canadians facing hate crimes require support. To this end, a re-elected Liberal government pledges to establish a National Support Fund for Survivors of Hate-Motivated Crimes to help survivors with costs they are forced to bear such as medical care and services.
Mr. Trudeau has said that “good intentions are not enough” when confronting antisemitism. The Liberal Party platform commits to developing by 2022, together with the Jewish community and other vulnerable communities, a National Action Plan on Combating Hate, as part of a renewed federal Anti-Racism Strategy. The party also commits to ensuring that the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism has the resources necessary to fulfill the position’s mandate.
On relations with Israel, the Liberal Party focuses on Canada’s deepening diplomatic ties to Israel, supporting the peace process and building lasting economic bonds. This also means “standing against the delegitimization of Israel and subjecting Israel to double standards, in particular in international fora.”
The Liberal Party refers to strong cooperation between Canada and Israel through the modernized and updated Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement of Sept. 2019. It points to the focus on science and research, including a recent tripling of Canada’s contribution to the bilateral agreement in industrial research and development.
The Liberal Party says it would “stand firm in its support for Israel’s right to live in peace and security with its neighbours within secure boundaries, and for Israel’s right to defend itself.” It condemns indiscriminate Hamas rocket attacks.
On the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Liberal Party says it would remain committed to supporting progress towards a two-state solution and would continue to oppose unilateral actions that jeopardize the prospects for peace.
On Iran, the Liberal Party platform states that a re-elected Liberal government would continue to work with international partners to hold Iran accountable for the downing of Flight PS752 and would continue to provide support to the families and loved ones of victims in their fight for justice and reparations.
The Conservative Party of Canada
The Conservative Party of Canada states it stands with the Jewish community in the face of disgusting acts of antisemitism and hate that are on the rise in this country. It adds that antisemitism has no place in Canada and encourages Canadians to stand against it.
The Conservative Party says it they has a detailed plan to combat online hate speech and antisemitism, and that it will always oppose the dissemination of hate speech and speech that incites violence. The party believes this can best be done through the Criminal Code and Canada’s criminal justice system, including by creating a stronger legal requirement for social media platforms to remove illegal hate-motivated content.
With respect to protecting synagogues, it is noted that the previous Conservative government launched the SIP to assist to communities that have a history of being victimized by hate-motivated crime. The party says an Erin O’Toole government will double-fund the SIP, simplify the application process to expand eligibility, and allow funding to be used for a broader list of expenses, such as paying security guards and training volunteers.
The Conservative Party says the fight for religious freedom will be a crucial part of its foreign policy, that freedom of worship is a pillar of our democracy and a natural extension of Canadian values. The party believes the federal government should place a specific focus on religious freedom in its human-rights agenda, which is why would reopen the Office of Religious Freedom.
The Conservatives believe that combating antisemitism abroad is within the mandate and responsibility of all of Canada’s diplomats and foreign affairs officials. As Prime Minister, Mr. O’Toole would expect and demand regular updates on Canada’s efforts to address hatred and discrimination against religious minorities throughout the world. The Conservative Party supports action on the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief’s report on antisemitism of 2019.
The Conservative Party says it would build on the adoption of the IHRA Definition of antisemitism to increase efforts on educating Canadians and to combat antisemitism. The party also says it recognizes the BDS movement as antisemitic. The party says it is committed to ensuring that its government would not fund the activities of any group or institution that supports the BDS movement.
The Conservative Party platform, in a section entitled A Detailed Plan to Promote Canada’s Interests and Values notes that significant change has occurred across the Middle East region, with nations discovering common cause in peace and prosperity through regional normalization such as the Abraham Accords.
The platform stresses that the Conservative Party would always support Israel’s existence as a sovereign democratic Jewish state with the right to self-determination and the right to live in peace and security.
To strengthen bilateral relations and support Israel in the region, Conservative Party says it would: (a) set clear objectives to enhance economic, political, and security cooperation to benefit both countries; b) recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the Canadian embassy to Jerusalem; (c) return Canada to its longstanding policy of not singling out Israel for criticism at the United Nations and international fora; and (d) combat the delegitimization of Israel, including opposing the denial of the 5,000 years of indigenous Jewish history throughout the Middle East.
The Conservative Party platform says it will boycott the United Nations Durban IV conference in September and oppose the International Criminal Court’s politicization and intrusion into bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The Conservative Party says it would prioritize Canadian interests and values at the United Nations and would take action to stop the UN Human Rights Council from unjustly and constantly singling out Israel for criticism. It would speak out against UNESCO resolutions that have sought to deny the Jewish people’s historic ties to key sites.
It would promote and support regional initiatives that foster peace between Israel and its neighbours while supporting the aspirations of the Palestinian people through a two-state solution.
On Iran, the Conservative Party says it would: (a) hold the Iranian regime accountable for its reckless nuclear ambitions, malevolent state support of international terrorism, and human rights violations; (b) impose Magnitsky sanctions on gross human-rights violators; (c) fulfill the motion adopted by Parliament and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity; (d) engage with Iranians promoting women’s rights, human rights, and democracy; and (e) demand justice and compensation for families of victims of downed Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, applying Magnitsky sanctions and pursuing legal avenues against those responsible.
The New Democratic Party of Canada
The New Democratic Party noted that the rise in antisemitism in Canada and in other countries is deeply disturbing, that we should all be united in condemning this hatred and take meaningful steps to ensure we put a stop to it. The NDP says it wholeheartedly accepts the need for a national plan to combat antisemitism – that we have to be unequivocal in our condemnation of this bigotry, that it has no place in Canada, and we must all work together to put an end to it.
The NDP says it supports the need for a dedicated mechanism to follow up on the July 2021, National Summit on Antisemitism’s discussions and to measure progress on an ongoing basis. It supports providing dedicated resources to Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
The NDP acknowledged that new forms of antisemitism are distinct from the traditional antisemitism to which Canadians are more accustomed.
It says the federal government should engage Canada’s universities and colleges in a concerted effort to confront antisemitism, and the party is committed to confronting and tackling antisemitism wherever it exists, including on Canadian campuses.
The NDP says it would convene a national working group to counter online hate and protect public safety and make sure that social media platforms are legally responsible for the removal of hateful and extremist content before it can do harm. The party would also begin work immediately to ensure that all major cities have dedicated hate crime units within local police forces.
The NDP said it considers antisemitism as a form of racism, similar to how it views racism against Black people, Indigenous Canadians and other racialized communities.
The NDP also told us that it endorses the requirement for public service training specifically devoted to confronting antisemitism. The party says it is committed to confronting white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, starting with a national action plan to dismantle far-right extremist organizations. The NDP would also convene a national working group to counter online hate and protect public safety, and make sure that social media platforms are legally responsible for the removal of hateful and extremist content before it can do harm.
The NDP believes the government of Canada must have a clear definition of antisemitism but it has some concerns that the IHRA Definition and its associated examples could undermine those who wish to speak out in favour of the human rights of Palestinians.
The NDP says it would work towards a just and lasting two-state solution between Israel and Palestine through a negotiations. The party also said it believes “Canada must speak out against human rights abuses and violations of international law, including the illegal occupation of [the] West Bank.”
On removing a standing item from the UN Human Rights Commission agenda seen as unfairly targeting Israel, the NDP said: “We believe Canada must join efforts in the UN system to speak out against violators of human rights in all countries. All UN member states must be transparent and fully respect their international human rights obligations.”
On removing a standing item from the World Health Assembly agenda seen as unfairly targeting Israel, the NDP said: “There are many health challenges in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem and Gaza. Canada must step up efforts to address these challenges, some of which are related [to] the Israeli occupation.”
The NDP agreed that, under federal lead, Canada’s provinces and territories should develop and implement a common, mandatory education curriculum to increase understanding of the Holocaust, antisemitism and genocide.
The party said it does not endorse or support the BDS movement. “We recognize that Canadians have the right to freedom of expression and to support non-violent movements for the respect of international law,” the party said, adding that “BDS cannot replace good faith efforts to negotiate a sustainable and just solution to the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Conversely, when asked whether the NDP supports past parliamentary motions condemning BDS, we were told: “No. We believe these motions undermine the freedom of expression of Canadians, and the choice to support non-violent movements for the respect of international law.”
The NDP said it would not withhold government assistance resources from organizations or academic institutions that advocate for, or support, BDS, adding that it believes this would undermine freedom of expression in Canada.
The NDP said it believes that Canada has an important diplomatic role to play in bringing Iran back into the mainstream international community, and that the party stands with the people of Iran in their aspirations for freedom, peace, democracy and the rule of a just law.
The NDP said it unequivocally condemns the threatening statements and actions of Iran against its neighbours, particularly Israel, and it condemns the human-rights violations that continue to be perpetrated by its government.
On designating the entirety of the IRGC as a terrorist entity, the NDP responded: “We strongly condemn any financial, logistical or any other support given by the Iranian government for terrorist groups, whether in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere. The list of terrorist entities is updated based on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety, who is supposed to make such decisions based on comprehensive criminal and security intelligence reports. New Democrats would not want to politicize this process.”
The NDP supports the Iran Nuclear Agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. It would support using Canada’s Magnitsky Act sanctions against Iran’s human-rights offenders.
The NDP accepts the need for a close bilateral relationship with Israel, as set out in the existing Canada-Israel Strategic Partnership Memorandum of Understanding, but said it has concerns about the negative impacts of the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement on the path towards peace between Israel and Palestine.
The NDP does not support Canada’s recognition of an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a move of the Canadian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, saying it believes this would be detrimental to international law and peace, as East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory.
At its 2021 annual conference, the NDP passed a resolution calling for the suspension of Canadian arms sales to Israel. This resolution is featured in the party platform in these words: “Recognizing that both Palestinians and Israelis have the right to live in safety and security, we will work towards a just and lasting two-state solution between Israel and Palestine that respects human rights and upholds international law. Canada must play an active and constructive role in advancing peace, beginning by suspending arms sales to Israel until the end of the illegal occupation.”
The Green Party of Canada
The Green Party of Canada platform — Be Daring — does not address Middle East issues in a direct way. Instead, it focuses on principles that would apply to international conflict situations. The platform does contain a commitment to “tackling identity-based hate and ensuring that the creation of a just society is at the centre of all decision-making.”
The commitment includes a reference to antisemitism in saying “it is the duty of our governments to identify, expose and root out supremacist movements, to ensure that those who promote and disseminate such ideologies know there will be no safe place or dark corners where their beliefs will be allowed to flourish.”
The Green Party says it is committed to building and keeping global peace, including post-conflict work to strengthen civil society and democratic institutions around the world. The party says it is aware of the dangers of militarism and the need to defend against it, one reason why it supports the United Nations doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect.’
On Middle East issues, the Green Party’s stated position reflects only one point: that Canada should cancel contracts to provide Saudi Arabia with armoured vehicles and ban the importation of Saudi oil.
In Oct. 2020, the Green Party elected Annamie Paul as leader, the first Jewish and Black woman to serve as a national party leader.
The party’s position on issues touching the Middle East, since Ms. Paul’s election, is best summed up in a May 10, 2021 statement:
“The Green Party of Canada is committed to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This requires steps to end the violence in favour of engagement in peaceful, inclusive dialogue as the preferred means of resolving the current situation and of achieving sustainable peace.”
In a subsequent May 16, 2021 statement, the Green Party said it was alarmed by the escalating violence throughout Israel and Gaza and the mounting loss of life. It called for a victim-centre approach focused on the protection of civilians as the highest immediate priority. The Green Party said it “condemns the indiscriminate and deadly missile and rocket attacks on civilian areas.”
In Sept. 2019, the Green Party said it has zero tolerance for sexism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia or hate speech of any kind.
The Green Party told us it is committed to working with affected communities, and the many strong civil society organizations that serve them, on a national plan to combat antisemitism at home and abroad.
In response to our questions, the Green Party said that a fresh federal strategy to deal with the dissemination of hate speech and hate crimes on the internet and social media is needed, and that the Green Party believes it is time that social media giants, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are held to account and that Canadian standards for illegal content removal are set, as has already been done in the European Union.
We were also told that the Green Party believes public education is an essential part of the solution to ensure that the sobering history of human rights violations that have been perpetrated against minority groups, and the lessons they provide, will not be forgotten. The Green Party said at the time of the last federal election, that it will call for mandatory curricular inclusion of materials to this effect, with particular importance paid to the atrocities committed against the Jewish people during World War II — a necessity given the frightening rise of modern Holocaust denial.
The Green Party also told us that increased hate has not been confined to the digital world. Verbal and physical threats to members of minority communities, particularly those who gather at religious institutions, including schools and other cultural centres, are also on the rise. Synagogues finding that they must spend large portions of their budgets on physical security is unacceptable. The Green Party said then that it believes that a national plan to combat antisemitism, hate crimes and hate speech must also include the following:
- Development of training resources and guidelines for law enforcement agencies to help them understand the unique security concerns faced by religious communities;
- A commitment to working with those communities to develop appropriate security and response plans, to both prevent offences and ensure victims receive the support they need;
- Improvements to offence definitions and the statistical tracking of offences, both criminal and non-criminal; and,
- Increased funding, delivered through Public Safety Canada, to ease the increased financial costs being borne by religious institutions.
The Green Party believed at the time of the last election that Canada has an important role to play in combating antisemitism, hate crimes and hate speech and protecting religious minority communities abroad. The Green Party told us it is committed to speaking out vigorously and utilizing Canada’s diplomatic influence to condemn hate offences and other human rights violations in the strongest of terms on the international stage, that Canada must be a lead advocate for the rights of refugees and persecuted minorities.
The Green Party said that it believes that legislative tools, such as the Immigration Act and Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (“Magnitsky Act”), should be leveraged to hold foreign actors accountable. Notorious offenders, such as the Iranian Government and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, must face sanctions. However, it said diplomatic ties should also be maintained, as further isolation of bad actors serves only to increase polarization and harm innocent individuals within their borders.
The Green Party said prior to the last election that the international community holds a responsibility to pressure actors to work towards peaceful solutions in cases of conflict, and that it supports individual citizens’ rights to engage in non-violent protest. While the Green Party did not endorse the formal Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, it said it acknowledges the tactics it entails as legitimate tools of non-violent political expression.
The Green Party told us it is committed to helping restore faith between United Nations’ agencies and Israel, believing that they still have a key role to play in facilitating progress toward a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians that recognizes the deep connection both communities feel towards the land and holy sites.
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?
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.
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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.