LATEST UPDATE: DECEMBER 1999
Despite an upturn in the number of recorded antisemitic manifestations in Canada during the last two years - after years in which a substantial decline had been recorded - it remains true that few Jews experience antisemitism personally. This fact is a result of changing attitudes in society combined with greater involvement in the fight against antisemitism by law-enforcement authorities.
Nevertheless, recent events reflect the difficulties associated with combatting antisemitism and racism. The fact that manifestations of racism and antisemitism continue to occur with greater or lesser frequency shows that at least some people adhere to, and openly display, racist views. Moreover, despite the existence of anti-hate legislation, prejudicial ideas are occasionally disseminated through the media. Furthermore the problem of hate dissemination on the Internet is still relatively new, and ways to stop it are being developed; however, it is creating new channels and new audiences for the communication of antisemitic and racist ideas and is becoming an increasingly important issue for anti-racist organizations.
The Canadian legal system has taken notable strides in curtailing antisemitism. Legal proceedings, however, are often lengthy and complex. A more expeditious use of Canadian laws would help to deal with professional hate-mongers, antisemites and alleged Nazi war criminals.
Canada's historically positive attitude towards immigrants shows signs of erosion. Since the beginning of the 1990s opinion polls have shown that Canadians are less and less tolerant of high levels of immigration. Commentators suggest that the irritant is not so much the rising numbers as the changing racial composition of recent arrivals, more than half of whom hail from non-European continents.
Total population July 1999: 30.5 million, 77 per cent urban (Statistics Canada)
Jewish population: 356,000 (mainly in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa)
Ethnic origin (figures based on 1996 Census and include only the 45 per cent who described themselves as having only one ethnic origin that was not Canadian): French 4.7 million (9 per cent); English 2 million; Italian 729,000; German 726,000; Scottish 640,000; Irish 500,000; Aboriginal 477,600; North American Indian 395,000; Ukrainian 331,500; Dutch 313,800; Polish 265,900; Métis or Inuit (Eskimo) 80,000; Norwegian 47,000; Welsh 28,000
Visible minorities (figures based on 1996 Census in which 11.2 per cent described themselves as members of 'visible minorities'): Chinese 860,000 (3 per cent); South Asian 670,000 (2.4 per cent); Black 574,000 (2 per cent); Arab/West Asian 244,500; Filipino 234,000; Latin American 177,000; South-east Asian 172,00; Japanese 68,000; Korean 65,000
Quebec population : 7.4 million, including a French-speaking majority (81 per cent) and English-speaking minority (13 per cent); Québecois ethnic groups include (figures based on 1996 Census): Italian 165,600; Jews 92, 390; Haitian 67,000; Aboriginal 55,000; Chinese 47,000; Greek 46,700; South Asian 41,500; Lebanese 35,000; German 23,700
Mother tongue (figures based on 1996 Census): of those describing themselves as having one mother tongue, 16.9 million were English-speakers, 6.6 million were French-speakers, and 4.6 million were speakers of unofficial languages; in addition there were 108,000 who described themselves as bilingual (England and French)
Constitutional status: constitutional monarchy with a federal parliamentary form of democracy (at both federal and provincial levels) and independent judiciary
Federal government: Liberal Party under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (returned to power in the June 1997 general election)
Main opposition parties: Reform Party, the separatist Bloc Québecois, New Democratic Party (NDP), Progressive Conservative Party (PCP)
Provincial government: with the exception of Quebec, all ten provinces are led by the PCP (6 provinces), the Liberal Party (1) or the NDP (2); the predominantly French-speaking Quebec is governed by the Parti Québecois (PQ) led by Lucien Bouchard (the PQ is a provincial party and does not contest federal elections)
November 1998 Quebec provincial election: The PQ was returned to office with a smaller share of the popular vote (42.8 per cent, 75 seats) than it had received in the previous 1994 election, and indeed than the Liberal Party received (43.6 per cent, 48 seats); the result was widely interpreted as a popular endorsement of the Liberal Party's opposition to a referendum on Quebecois independence.
Referendum on Quebec independence (see also Parties, organizations, movements): Despite the PQ's stated intention of holding another referendum on independence in the year 2000 - the earlier 1995 referendum rejected secession - if it won the 1998 provincial election, Premier Bouchard stated that he would hold another referendum only if 'winning conditions' existed. As of now, while there is a possibility of a referendum during the next few years, when and if one might be held is open to question. In August 1998 the Supreme Court, responding to a request from the federal government, issued a reference on the question of separation, stating that if the separatists were to win a referendum by a clear majority on a clear question, the federal government and the provinces would have to negotiate, but all issues, including Quebec's borders, would have to be on the table. Furthermore it held that Quebec does not have a right to secede unilaterally. Both sides found aspects of the ruling satisfactory.
Date of next general election: 2001 or 2002
GDP 4th quarter 1999: C$976.7 billion (US$607.7 billion) (Statistics Canada)
GDP annual growth (first quarter 1999): 3.2 per cent (The Economist, July 1999)
Inflation November 1999: 2.2 per cent (Statistics Canada)
Unemployment 1999: 7.6 per cent (Statistics Canada)
While the first Jews came to Canada in the eighteenth century, the bulk of the community is descended from twentieth-century immigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia in the first half of the century and, more recently, from North Africa and the Middle East. In the last few years, Jews have settled in Canada from South Africa, Israel and the former Soviet republics.
The government's refusal to admit Jewish refugees from Nazism before and during the Second World War is well documented. In one notorious case in 1939, over 900 German Jews aboard the St Louis were prohibited from entering Canada and made to return to German where many died in the death camps.
Sanctuary Denied, a book published in 1994, examined the war-time refugee policy of Newfoundland, which was then a British colony. Out of more than 5,000 requests from refugees during this period, not one person was admitted.
In the last fifty years, there has been a noticeable improvement in the status of Jews in Canadian society. Jewish community organizations have worked with the government to develop legislation in such fields as combatting hatred against identifiable groups and prosecuting war crimes committed abroad.
Resolving cases of alleged Nazi war criminals living in Canada remains a top priority for the Jewish community. The government, which has pursued these individuals since 1987, has been strongly criticized for its apparent inability to bring the cases to a conclusion, and for initiating proceedings in only a relatively small number of cases.
In order to clarify a hotly contested allegation of antisemitism among officials of the War Crimes Unit of the Department of Justice, the government asked law professor John McCamus to investigate. In his March 1998 report he found no evidence of antisemitism in the unit, a conclusion contested by William Hobson, a former head of the unit, and the late Arnold Fradkin, who worked under Hobson. McCamus criticized them for pushing allegations that he had found to be without merit. He stated: 'I have been unable to discover any evidence of antisemitic incidents or attitudes in the work of the war-crime section during [Peter] Kremer's term as director.' Jack Silverstone, national executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), reiterated his view that the unit's record under Kremer involved closing many cases and opening few new ones: 'We still have serious questions about the dedication of the unit from 1990-1995.'
In a January 1997 review of a decade of proceedings against alleged war criminals, the late former deputy director of the war crimes unit of the department of justice, Arnold Fradkin, lamented the lack of results: 'It is not justice for Nazi war criminals and collaborators to find a safe haven in Canada.' He pointed out that, given the advanced age of the accused men, the government could not afford to be dilatory: 'justice delayed will most certainly result in justice denied.' He added that Justice Jules Deschenes, who led a commission of inquiry on war crimes in 1987, had identified 224 men for investigation - twenty on an urgent basis - but, after ten years, proceedings had been initiated against only thirteen men with a successful conclusion in only one case.
At present, of fifteen cases brought by the government since 1995, three have resulted in loss of citizenship, three have been decided in favour of the accused, four are still in court, three accused died before their proceedings were finished, and two left the country voluntarily.
In December 1997 Neal Sher, former head of the US Office of Special Investigations (OSI, see United States), was appointed as a consultant to the Canadian war crimes unit. Sher, who had criticized Canada's 'less than aggressive' approach to accused war criminals in the past, said that he was now convinced that there was a 'commitment at the highest levels' to vigorous action.
Sher's appointment was attacked in January 1998 by representative of the Ukrainian community. Eugene Harasymiw, president of the Alberta Ukrainian Self-Reliance League, for example, contended that: 'Mr Sher is not fit to work within the Canadian justice system, period.' The major complaint against Sher is that he headed the OSI when it was pursuing the John Demjanjuk case. Ukrainian groups are also critical of Canada's new policy of stripping suspects of their citizenship and deporting them, rather than prosecuting them under criminal law, because it is easier to meet the standards of proof required.
Following the case of Imre Finta, a Hungarian immigrant tried by a criminal court for war crimes and acquitted by a jury in 1991 (a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1994 following an appeal by the government), it was clear that criminal convictions against alleged war criminals would be difficult to obtain. As an alternative the government attempted in 1993 to have alleged war criminals stripped of their citizenship and deported. The grounds for removing citizenship are that these individuals lied when applying for immigration to Canada and for citizenship, specifically concealing aspects of their background such as participation in military, police or Nazi SS units.
This new strategy appeared to be making progress as the pace of initiating court proceedings against alleged war criminals increased. However, following the Podins decision in July 1999 (see below), there were calls to re-evaluate the government's legal strategy. Irving Abella, representing the CJC, called for a shift from proving fraud at the time of immigration to proving membership in specific Nazi groups or organizations, or presence at concentration camps. David Matas of B'nai Brith Canada complained that 'the government has to meet a higher standard when it tries to deport Nazis than to deport anybody else'.
In December 1999 a new Crimes against Humanity Act was introduced by government ministers that would revive the option of criminal prosecutions of those suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In particular, it would for the most part disallow the defence of following orders, and provisions for sentencing in cases of conviction for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes involving intentional killing would be the same as for murder under the Criminal Code. Anne McLellan, minister for justice and the attorney general, said the act would reaffirm Canada's pledge that it 'is not, and will not be, a safe haven for war criminals'.
British Columbia resident Eduard Podins, who was accused of being a guard at a Nazi prison camp in Latvia, was allowed to remain in Canada in July 1999. The judge rejected the government's contention and found instead that Podins had been a shopkeeper during the war. This was the third recent war crimes case lost by the government.
The other two unsuccessful cases involved Peteris Vitols and Johann Dueck. Vitols, a resident of Montreal, had admitted membership of a Latvian police battalion, but convinced federal court judge William McKeown that he had not personally participated in atrocities. The judge ruled in September 1998 that he had not lied in order to immigrate to Canada. In a similar decision in December 1998, Judge Marc Noel concluded that St Catharine's resident Dueck had not used fraud or misrepresentation in order to gain admission to Canada. Dueck asserted that he was only an interpreter and not a member of a police unit.
Toronto resident Wasily Bogutin lost his denaturalization case in February 1998, when a federal court judge ruled that he had lied about his war-time activities when immigrating. The cabinet stripped him of his citizenship in July 1998 and initiated deportation proceedings a few months later. Bogutin was alleged to have collaborated with the Nazis in the Ukraine while working for the Selidovka district police, and to have participated in the murder of a Jewish family and a former militiaman in 1941; he was also accused of ordering the arrests of young girls for deportation to forced labour camps. Bogutin's lawyer, claiming that the accused's father was Jewish, argued that Bogutin worked for the Ukrainian police with the intention of remaining inconspicuous to the German authorities.
The case of Quebec resident Mamertas Rolland Maciukas was also brought to a conclusion. Maciukas, who allegedly belonged to Lithuanian police and Schutzmannschaft battalions, was accused of having collaborated with the Germans in Lithuania and Byelorussia in 1941 as part of an auxiliary police unit that murdered some 50,000 Jews in Byelorussia. Maciukas decided not to contest the government's attempt to lift his citizenship. In April 1998 he left Canada, after the cabinet had revoked his citizenship.
Ludwig Nebel's case was launched in July 1998. Because Nebel, a resident of Niagara Falls, had never obtained Canadian citizenship, the matter concerns only deportation. He is accused of lying to immigration officers when he denied having been a member of the Nazi party in Austria. The government also accuses him of having belonged to the SA and subsequently the SS, and of commanding troops that captured Jews and turned them over to the Gestapo.
Windsor resident and retired auto worker Michael Baumgartner also faces the loss of his Canadian citizenship in a proceeding that began early in 1999. The government alleges that he had voluntarily joined the Waffen SS and had served as a guard at Sachsenhausen and Stutthof concentration camps in 1942 and 1943. These were grounds for denying an application for immigration, suggesting that Baumgartner, Hungarian-born, must have lied when applying to come to Canada.
Historian Yitzhak Arad testified in March 1999 in the case against Wasyl Odynsky, who served in a unit that guarded labour camps in Poland. Odynsky, who lives in Scarborough, is accused of lying about his war-time activities when he immigrated to Canada and faces the loss of his Canadian citizenship and deportation.
Serge Kisluk faces the loss of his citizenship and deportation since federal court judge Allan Lufty found in June 1999 that he had misrepresented his record when he immigrated to Canada. Testimony at the trial connected the former Ukrainian police officer with war-time offenses against Jews. Judge Lufty rejected Kisluk's protestations of innocence. In a key part of his ruling, he held that the security screening process in effect in 1948 would not have allowed Kisluk entry into Canada had he told the truth to the immigration inspectors. Jewish organizational leaders praised the judge's conclusions.
A federal court judge found in January 1999 that Vladimir Katriuk, a retired butcher from Montreal, lied in order to obtain Canadian citizenship. As a result the government was able to remove his citizenship and move to deport him to his native Ukraine. In the trial the government alleged that Katriuk had been a member of the Waffen SS and leader of a section of a police battalion that had committed atrocities and mass killings against Jews and other civilians in what is now Belarus. Judge Marc Nadon wrote that 'the respondent must have participated in at least some operations in which his battalion was involved between 1942 and 1944', thereby rejecting Katriuk's claim that he had not engaged in war crimes. At his denaturalization hearing in May 1998, Katriuk testified that, when he was interviewed by Canadian immigration officials at the time of his application to come to Canada, he was never asked about his war-time activities.
Jacob Fast, a Ukrainian-born retired mechanic from St Catharines, was served notice in October 1999 of an intention to revoke his Canadian citizenship. A date for the hearing has not been set. The government alleges that Fast, on applying to immigrate to Canada in 1947, failed to divulge his German citizenship, his collaboration with German occupation authorities in the Ukraine and association with the Nazi's security police and intelligence services.
The project of establishing a national Holocaust museum has provoked debate between members of various ethnic communities in Canada. The Jewish community argues that the government has already made a commitment, which it should honour, to create a Holocaust museum in the nation's capital Ottawa. A coalition of representatives of other communities - Ukrainians, Armenians, Turks, indigenous Canadians, Palestinians, Asians etc. - maintain that no one genocide should be singled out for remembrance and that a state-funded museum should commemorate all instances of genocide throughout the twentieth century. CJC has stated that it has no objection to a separate genocide museum.
The 1998 Hate Bias Crime Report, issued annually by the Toronto Police Service recorded 228 hate crimes reported to the Toronto police (including the bias categories of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, language, nationality, race/colour, religion and sexual orientation). This represented a 22 per cent increase on the 187 offences reported in 1997. The black community suffered the highest number (61), followed by the gay community (31), South Asians (26) and Jews (24). Assaults (78), as in previous years, were the most frequently reported crimes, followed by mischiefs (including graffiti) (52), threats (43) and instances of hate propaganda (23).
The 1999 report showed a total of 292 hate crimes, representing an increase of 28 per cent over 1998. The crimes that showed the most significant increase in frequency were mischiefs (76) - which overtook assault (75) as the most frequent offence - and instances of the willful promotion of hatred (53). As in previous years, Blacks suffered the highest number of attacks (72), followed by Jews (35), gay males (32), Pakistanis (17) and Whites (17). In most cases, the perpetrators were described as males between the ages of 26 and 40, in contradistinction to the 1998 report in which younger males (between 18 and 25) were the prime suspects.
The Toronto police suggest that the yearly increase reflects greater awareness on the part of both police and the community at large, and a greater willingness to report offences when they occur.
Among the total number of hate crimes recorded since 1993, when the Toronto police began publishing statistics, Blacks are the most victimized group (444 of 1,588 incidents), followed by Jews (260) and South Asians (166).
The treatment of Canada's indigenous population - numbering some 1.3 million - continues to be one of the most important human rights issues facing the country. Disputes over land claims, self-determination, treaty rights, taxation, duty-free imports, fishing and hunting rights and alleged harassment by police continued to be sources of tension. Indigenous Canadians are under-represented in the work force, over-represented on welfare rolls and more susceptible to suicide and poverty than other groups.
1998 began with an expression of 'profound regret' by the Canadian government for its policies of assimilation that have suppressed, and in some cases destroyed, native languages and cultures over a period of several hundred years, and a commitment to spend some C$600 million on programmes to aid aboriginal communities. The statement fell short of the full apology that many aboriginal groups had called for.
The government initiative followed a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in December 1997 that ruled that the Gitxsan and Wetsoiten had aboriginal title to 57,000 sq. km of ancestral land in British Columbia. The ruling was significant in that it set forth in law for the first time the concept of 'aboriginal title': the two peoples had claimed ownership of the land rather than merely hunting and fishing rights.
A landmark treaty with the Nisga'a, another indigenous people of north-western British Columbia, was signed in August 1998, giving the Nisga'a control of 2,000 sq. km of land in British Columbia as well as a cash settlement, fishing and timber cutting rights and certain powers of self-government, in exchange for the dropping of all future land claims. The treaty was ratified by the Nisga'a in November 1998, narrowly by the provincial legislature in April 1999, and against strong Reform Party objections by the federal legislature in December 1999. Legal challenges to the treaty have been lodged.
In April 1999 Nunavut ('Our Land' in the Inuit language), the first new administrative entity to be created in Canada since 1949, was officially declared in existence. The 2.2 million sq. km homeland (an area larger than Alaska) comprises the eastern 60 per cent of the former Northwest Territories. Nunavut's capital is Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay), its population is 25,000, 85 per cent of whom are Inuit, and its first prime minister, Paul Okalik, was chosen by its newly-elected legislature in March 1999. The region has among the worst unemployment, crime, alcoholism and suicide rates in the world.
The federal government is involved in ongoing negotiations with over 350 aboriginal communities, including one involving the setting up of a political entity (Nunavik) for Quebec's Inuit nations.
In general, Quebec's indigenous peoples remain overwhelmingly opposed to separation from Canada. Despite overtures by the provincial government to the leaders of the Cree and Inuit nations, surveys indicate that most of Quebec's 60,000 aborigines favour partition of the province in the event of separation.
In July 1999, the recently renovated immigrant processing shed at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia was officially opened as a national historic site and museum. Between 1928 and 1971 Pier 21 was the entry point for boat-loads of more than a million immigrants and refugees whose descendants account for 20 per cent of the present Canadian population. The project's organizers were criticized for focusing on the period of European immigration, and ignoring post-1971 arrivals, more than half of whom are from non-European continents. Nonetheless the opening was an opportunity to celebrate the historically positive Canadian attitude towards immigration and the significance of the contribution that immigrants have made to the development of every facet of Canadian life.
In the two years between July 1997 and June 1999, Canada received 367,462 immigrants (194,451 in 1997/8 and 173,011 in 1998/9). The breakdown by continent of origin is as follows: Asia (217,253), Europe (77,796), North and Central America (29,379), Africa (28,794), South America (10,572) and Australasia (2,179).
The government co-operates with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. According to the UNHCR, at the end of 1998 there were 135,700 refugees and 23,300 asylum-seekers in Canada (159,000 in total). At the beginning of 1998 there were 28,537 asylum cases pending and 23,838 additional applications were made during the year. Of the applications that were decided in 1998, 12,884 were successful, 10,321 were rejected and 6, 208 were otherwise closed (a recognition rate of 43.8 per cent). At the end of the year 23,290 cases were still pending. During 1999 about 41,000 applications for refugee status were successful.
During the latter half of 1997 about 1,000 Roma refugees from the Czech and Slovak Republics claimed asylum in Canada amidst reports in the media, on radio talk-shows, in opinion polls - as well as among the far right - marked by intolerance and alarmism. Those sounding the alarm pander to the most primitive fears that the new arrivals will use up the resources that 'real' Canadians need for their well-being. A (now former) Toronto councillor, Gordon Chong, was reported to have stated during council discussions of the issue that Gypsies 'pimp their wives and daughters'. A violent anti-Roma protest outside a Toronto motel in August of that year - including placards reading 'Honk if you hate Gypsies' and 'Canada is not a trash can' - resulted in charges being laid against seven white supremacists who were reportedly members of various groups, including the Polska Skinheads (see Parties, organizations, movements and Legal matters).
In June 1998 the Immigration and Refugee Board ruled that, because the Czech citizenship law of 1992 does discriminate against Gypsies, they therefore have a genuine claim to asylum (see Czech Republic). During 1999, 737 Czech Roma were granted asylum and 78 applications were denied.
During the summer of 1999 approximately 600 Chinese arrived illegal by boat off the coast of British Columbia seeking asylum. After several of the refugee claimants failed to appear at their hearings, subsequent arrivals have been remanded into custody, against the objections of some human rights and refugee organizations. Once again, the incident provoked of the widespread airing of racist sentiments.
In November 1999 Michael Chessman, the self-appointed leader of the fictitious Coalition for Humanistic British Canada, placed anti-immigrant ads in most of the major Canadian newspapers. The ads - obtained fraudulently and never paid for - called for an increase in immigration from white European countries only and 'an end to Canada's multicultural policies' in favour of a policy of 'mainstream cultural assimilation'.
In Canada antisemitism is not a significant factor in mainstream politics.
Although the climate in Quebec - where earlier intemperate remarks by separatists as to the role that ethnic communities (particularly the Jewish, Italian and Greek communities) had played in defeating the 1995 referendum on Quebec independence) - has eased for minorities, the political rhetoric remains radicalized and the province continues to be divided by language and ethnic issues. Anxiety and a sense of alienation have driven some members of the Quebec Jewish community to move to other parts of Canada or to the USA. Jews have been characterized in past years as leaders of the pro-federalist forces and even as spokespersons for English Quebecers as a whole (see also General background).
Far-right movements continue to keep a low profile, presumably in response to heavy government pressure in recent years and because many of their leaders are embroiled in legal battles. Organizations such as the Heritage Front and various other neo-Nazi and far-right skinhead groups continue to exist with relatively small memberships and little impact.
In Web of Hate (1998), writer Warren Kinsella, who has followed the activities of far-right groups for many years, argues that the more established of such groups are trying to shed their radical image and move more towards the mainstream. He calls for controlling them through continued vigilance by law enforcement, the media and citizens at large.
Increasingly, perpetrators of hate crimes are tending to be young men, either unaffiliated or organized in looser, more ephemeral 'leaderless resistance' groupings (see USA). According to the 1998 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, prepared by B'nai Brith Canada (BBC), the 'faces of hate in Canada are becoming harder to identify'.
The Heritage Front, founded in Toronto in 1989, was one of the largest and most active Canadian far-right groups, claiming at its peak 2,000 members. In recent years the Front has experienced financial difficulties and leadership problems, first with the revelation that a Canadian Security Intelligence Service 'mole' had infiltrated its ranks, and then with the imprisonment of the group's leader Wolfgang Droege for assault and possession of firearms. While Droege was released from prison in 1997 it is not clear if he has resumed his position as leader. The group's newsletter, Up Front, which had not appeared since 1995, reappeared in 1997 under the title Heritage Front Report. There have been recent signs of an attempted revival of the group. In April 1998 the organizer of the British Columbia Heritage Front was implicated in the racially-motivated death of a caretaker of a Sikh temple in Surrey (see Legal matters). In 1999 Heritage Front propaganda was distributed in Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island.
The mostly moribund Nationalist Party, led by Don Andrews, was back in the news in 1998 with a revival of its 1994 attempt to get official recognition for a European Heritage Day. Following on from a precedent set in London, Ontario in 1995 when the municipal government relinquished the decision for such declarations - that time, for a Gay Pride Week - to a committee, Andrews's new tactic was have a European Heritage Week established in London by the European Heritage Week Committee. When the attempt failed, Martin Weiche, previously known for his support for Nazi causes, filed a complaint against the London municipal authorities with the Human Rights Commission. The complaint is being made by Weiche as a private citizen who, he says, feels discriminated against because of his European descent. The plan was, however, successful in Fredericton, New Brunswick where a week in October was proclaimed as European Heritage Week; the event was cancelled at the last moment by the mayor after the Atlantic Jewish Council informed him that it was the work of white supremacists.
Resistance Records, a leading supplier of white-power music, was raided and closed down in September 1997 by police in Detroit, where it was based to circumvent Canadian hate laws. Its founder, Canadian neo-Nazi skinhead George Burdi (aka Reverend Eric Hawthorne) (see Legal matters), was formerly the leader of the apparently now defunct violent and virulently racist Canadian Church of the Creator (COTC, but see also Australia, South Africa, Sweden) and lead singer of the neo-Nazi band RaHoWa (i.e. RAce HOly WAr). In August 1998 Resistance Records was allegedly taken over by Willis Carto, the leader of the Liberty Lobby (see USA).
Canadian branches of far-right American organizations are active to some degree in various parts of the country. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK, see USA) first came to Canada at the beginning of the century, and has always been small and of marginal influence.
The violent American white-supremacist group Aryan Nations (see USA) is one of the more active far-right organizations operating at present. In April 1999 the Canadian Aryan Nations web-site published the group's political programme - including the establishment of an all-white Aryan national state which would deport Jews and seize their assets - and announced the location of its headquarters in Prince George, British Columbia. The following month the leader of the Canadian branch, Marty Olsen, resigned. The web-site also encouraged the insertion of the group's business card - bearing the slogan 'Save the White Race' - in magazines and books. Two examples of this being done have come to light, in Prince George and in a major bookshop in London, Ontario.
It was also in London, Ontario in 1999 that a racist group called the Northern Alliance surfaced. The group is headed by Raphael Bergman, and has connections to the COTC, the Heritage Front and the Ku Klux Klan. The local police described the group as 'urban terrorists'.
Canadian neo-Nazi skinhead groups tend to be anti-American, anti-Black, anti-homosexual, anti-immigrant and in favour of the death penalty. Branches of the Northern Hammerskins have been established in various parts of the country in recent years (see Legal matters). The group was described by Bernie Farber, executive director of the Ontario region CJC, as 'short on philosophy and long on violence'.
Another active neo-Nazi skinhead group in Toronto is the Polska Skins, based in Riverdale.
Douglas Christie (see also Legal matters), best known as legal counsel to alleged Nazi war criminal Imre Finta and Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel (see Legal matters), continues to hold meetings of his Canadian Free Speech League in British Columbia. After 400 protesters attended one of these meetings in a Victoria library in June 1998, a coalition of local groups filed a human rights complaint against Christie. Nonetheless, the library remains adamant about the right of the group to hold meetings in the library, despite the some C$30,000 needed to police these events. In the autumn of 1999 another meeting that took place in the glare of publicity attracted some of the country's most well-known racists and antisemites, including the former head of the British Columbia KKK, Marc Lemire (see Publications and media) and Doug Collins (see Publications and media and Legal matters).
In June 1998 a Nation of Islam (see USA) leader addressed a gathering at its new Toronto mosque. Don Muhammad's speech, which featured Holocaust denial and calumnies against Jews, provoked protests from, among others, Protestant church leaders.
The Audit of Antisemitic Incidents prepared by B'nai Brith Canada (BBC) showed an increase in reported incidents in both 1998 and 1999. The report uses two categories of incidents, vandalism and harassment: vandalism is defined as an act involving physical damage to property, including graffiti, swastika daubings, cemetery desecrations and other property damage, arson and other criminal acts such as thefts and break-ins where an antisemitic motive can be discerned; the broader category of harassment includes the distribution of hate propaganda, hate mail, media stereotyping, verbal slurs or other discriminatory acts against individuals, threats against individuals and property and any kind of physical assault.
The total number of incidents rose both in 1998 (from 212 in 1997 to 240) and in 1999 (from 240 to 267), although the number is still significantly lower than those recorded in 1994-5. Incidents of harassment rose from 154 in 1997 to 198 in 1998 and 205 in 1999, the second highest figure since reporting began. The most disturbing finding is that the number of assaults rose to 16 in 1999 from 2 in 1998. The reported examples of vandalism, however, declined in 1998 to 42 from the previous year's 58, although it rose again to 62 in 1999, a 47.6 per cent increase (though only a 7 per cent increase on 1997). Nonetheless even the higher figure represents the third lowest tally since 1993. The nature of the reporting process makes it difficult to draw any conclusions from short-term variations. On balance the data for 1998/9 are not particularly alarming, though they demonstrate the need for ongoing vigilance.
There are, however, some disturbing regional trends that are masked by the national figures. The bulk of incidents of both types occur disproportionately in Ontario, the largest province with about one-third of the country's population. On average for the two years, Toronto, the largest city, accounted for just under half of all the incidents, while over 13 per cent occurred in Ottawa and about 16 per cent in the rest of Ontario. Thus about 80 per cent of all the incidents took place in Ontario, which continues to be home to a number of far-right activists.
Several of the antisemitic incidents are worth noting. Ecole Maimonides, an Ottawa Jewish day school, was the scene of an arson attack of unknown motivation in October 1998, causing property damage only. In a Montreal suburb, also in October, there was serious vandalism against a Jewish-owned home, including antisemitic graffiti and significant property damage. Furthermore there was an incident of arson at a Toronto Jewish community centre during the Sukkot holiday. A Jewish-owned shop in Whitby, Ontario was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti in December 1998.
There were several attacks on Jewish cemeteries. Montreal's Back River Cemetery was the site of vandalism involving 43 overturned monuments in August 1998, although there were no signs of an antisemitic motive and nearby Christian cemeteries were also vandalized. Earlier that year, in April, two cousins caused serious damage to monuments in St Catharine's Jewish cemetery in Ontario. The cousins, with links to neo-Nazism, were apprehended and convicted of numerous acts of vandalism.
In June 1999 antisemitic graffiti were repeatedly sprayed on the walls of Levitts Kosher Foods in Montreal.
In July 1999 many residents of certain Montreal suburbs received catalogues of antisemitic items by post. The National Vanguard Books Catalogue offered hate literature, videos and tapes by mail order on subjects such as white supremacy, the virtues of Nazism, Holocaust denial and Jewish control of societal institutions.
Winnipeg's Jewish community experienced the worst cemetery desecration in memory in August 1999, when over 200 monuments were pushed over or uprooted at the Hebrew Sick Benefit Association Cemetery. About fifty stones had to be repaired or replaced with an estimated cost of restoring the cemetery of over C$100,000 (US$68,000). Five people between the ages of 15 and 21 were charged in the incident, which police were reluctant to describe as having been motivated by antisemitism as no 'calling card' - such as graffiti or slogans - was left behind by the perpetrators.
In October 1999 six headstones and a Holocaust memorial were spray-painted with antisemitic slogans at the Lambton Mills Jewish cemetery in Toronto. Volunteers organized by a Mohawk art restorer from the Native Canadians Six Nations community carried out the repair work, with help donated by Graffiti Removal Systems, a Mississauga company.
The attack that occurred in Toronto in August 1999 - when two older men (aged 66 and 79) on their way to Sabbath evening services were beaten with a pipe - was initially treated by police as a hate crime but later, after two men were arrested early in 2000, put down as a 'case of mistaken identity' involving a bad business transaction.
A large number of the incidents of antisemitic harassment are reported to BBC from students at both high schools and university throughout the country. In February 1999, for instance, there was a spate of antisemitic graffiti and swastika daubings at McGill University in Montreal, including on four of the seven floors of the McConnell residence hall. A worrying trend is an increase in reports of much younger schoolchildren unselfconsciously spouting antisemitic and racist notions, and in discriminatory graffiti appearing in elementary schools and playgrounds.
J. Philippe Rushton, a leading academic in the present resurgence of the pseudo-science of racial biology, is a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario in London. He and his university have the dubious distinction of being the largest recipient in the 1990s of grants from the Pioneer Fund (see USA), a grant-making trust founded in 1937 and involved in supporting almost every instance of racist biology since: from 1994-6 he received US$334,405. Rushton argues that behavioural differences between Whites, Blacks and Asians are the result of evolutionary variations in their reproductive strategies. Blacks, for example, are at the least successful position on the continuum because, according to Rushton, they produce large numbers of offspring and offer them little care; Asians, who have fewer children and indulge them, are at the other extreme. Rushton is a fellow of several mainstream professional bodies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American, British and Canadian Psychological Associations.
There was a controversy involving a 1997 graduate thesis at Quebec City's Université Laval. The student had written on Nazi Germany in a manner that at best amounted to apologetics. The CJC raised the question of the propriety of granting a degree on the basis of such a thesis, contending that the student had misrepresented historical facts. After a meeting in February 1998, the CJC and the university agreed that there should be tighter supervision of student research in the future. However, the university refused to withdraw the degree.
Paul Fromm, a former teacher in a Peel board of education school near Toronto, was dismissed in February 1997 when it was discovered he had attended meetings and participated in programmes of white supremacist and antisemitic groups. (Fromm - the founder of various far-right groups such as Canadians for Foreign Aid Reform (C-FAR) and Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFÉ) - had been officially reprimanded in 1993 for such activity.) He subsequently sent anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant material to all local school libraries claiming his right to free speech. The material circulated included copies of his newsletter Free Speech Monitor which contained references to a supposed world Jewish conspiracy (see also Publications and media). He has also been organizing speaking engagements in order to publicize his case: in 1999, for instance, he spoke at meetings in Prince George, Victoria and Vancouver (all in British Columbia). Fromm filed a grievance claim in a bid to overturn the board's decision which is presently in arbitration.
In March 1999 the Proulx task force submitted its report on religion in Quebecois schools. Its recommendations include the abolition of Catholic and Protestant status for public schools and the creation of secular public schools instead, in which religion would be studied from a cultural perspective. School boards are scheduled to respond to the government by July 2001.
In July 1999 the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ruled that the daily recitation of the Lord's Prayer in Saskatoon public schools was discriminatory and interfered with national freedom of religion provisions. (Saskatchewan had joined Canada under a 1905 act that required religion to be part of the public school curriculum.) After the ruling recitation of the Lord's Prayer was abandoned. The Saskatoon school board has begun public hearings on the matter. In the weeks following a spate of antisemitic harassment incidents were reported in the Saskatoon area.
Despite a similar ruling earlier in Ontario, pressure is mounting in some parts of the region, particularly Guelph and Perth, to bring back Christian prayers into the public schools. Nearly 100 municipalities in Ontario are supporting a resolution to this end for the provincial legislature. They argue that the climate in schools has deteriorated since readings from the Christian Bible and the Lord's Prayer were removed from school opening exercises.
New Brunswick's board of education voted 6-4 in October 1999 to replace William Ross, a retired school principal and the brother of antisemite and Holocaust denier Malcolm Ross, as a member of the board's curriculum advisory committee. The vote was prompted by the board's chairman Larry Batt discovering Ross's testimony at his brother's libel trial against cartoonist Josh Beutel (see Legal matters): 'From what I read, the Jewish people themselves are changing the figures and the number and reducing them, and they still say six million.'
In November 1999 the United Nations Human Rights Committee supported a complaint by Arieh Waldman, a Canadian citizen, claiming that public funding for Roman Catholic schools in Ontario, but not for Jewish schools, violated his rights under international conventions. In Ontario public schooling provides free education for all residents without discrimination, and public schools may not engage in religious indoctrination. However, under a 1867 statute, the province is obliged to fund Roman Catholic schools while other religious schools must be funded through private sources. In 1996 the Canadian Supreme Court held that Ontario was constitutionally obligated to fund Catholic schools. The UN, however, found that the 1867 statute to protect Roman Catholics no longer applies and that the present system is discriminatory. It requested that Ontario comply with the ruling within ninety days but there is no penalty if the province chooses to ignore it.
As the millennium approached, an increasing number of incidents occurred involving messianic fundamentalist Christian organizations posing as 'synagogues' in order to recruit Jewish converts. The members of these groups typically believe that the conversion of the Jews is one of the necessary preconditions for the Second Coming of Christ, linked for many with the millennium.
A counter-missionary organization called 'Jews for Judaism', which has emerged in response, estimated at the beginning of 1999 that there were at least fifty Christian proselytizing groups targetting Jews for conversion in Southern Ontario alone.
As well as setting up 'synagogues', the groups advertise in local papers in Jewish neighbourhoods, list themselves as synagogues in telephone directories and produce and disseminate pamphlets. The two principal publications to emerge are the Messianic Times and an antisemitic leaflet entitled The Last Call International.
The Messianic Times - founded in Toronto in 1990 by Zev Isaacs and now published in the United States - describes itself as 'the world's only international messianic Jewish newspaper', and is a glossy, carefully produced magazine that disguises well its Christian content and produces the illusion that it is somehow Jewish to believe in Jesus. The magazine, using the Canadian unaddressed ad-mail system, targetted by postal code, is widely distributed in many predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods in Toronto. One such mailing, in a blue wrapper with a Star of David, was timed to arrive just before Chanucah 1999.
The Last Call International is an antisemitic flyer that, in 1998, was delivered to a large number of Jewish homes in the Toronto area. It states that the Holocaust will happen again if the Jews do not repent: 'A mighty persecution is coming again, Jews are going to be taken in Concentration Camps . . . God is showing these things before it happens so we can turn up to him and repent.'
In December 1998 a full-page ad appeared in the mainstream national paper, the Globe and Mail, for the Chosen People Ministries, asking if it is 'reasonable to be Jewish and believe in Jesus'. Sixteen people of different ages and apparently different professions are pictured and said to have one thing in common: 'The most Jewish thing we have ever done is to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.' In the preceding months, the organization applied to have the menorah officially registered as their trademark. Both the Canadian Jewish Congress and BBC have filed an objection with Revenue Canada.
In May 1998 the United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination, called on its members to stop attempts to convert Jews (see Countering antisemitism).
The notorious Canadian Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel continues, despite being involved in various legal proceedings (see Legal matters), to publish and disseminate Holocaust-denial material worldwide, both on the Internet, on his weekly Canadian cable television programme and through the exports of his publishing house, Samisdat. He remains a leading figure of Holocaust denial throughout the world.
In late 1997 the student newspapers at two Canadian universities ran the ad submitted by Bradley R. Smith and his Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (see USA). The editorial staffs at both the Varsity (University of Toronto) and the Cord (Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo) apologized for carrying the ad and ran articles exposing it and countering its message.
Canadian law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, although both the Criminal Code and human rights legislation have established limits. Inciting hatred (in certain cases) or genocide is a criminal offense, although the Supreme Court has set a high threshold for such cases by specifying that these acts must be proven willful and public.
The media plays a role both in adding to and countering ethnic tensions in Canada. The benchmark of acceptability of racial stereotyping and other discriminatory language appeared to move backwards in the past few years, a mood echoed in the negative coverage of Roma refugees in recent years (see Racism and xenophobia).
In 1998 a local paper in the Toronto Beaches area, the Town Crier, published a blatantly antisemitic letter to the editor from a man who claimed, among other things to 'harbour negative views about the Jews'. After complaints, the editor explained that the paper's policy was to publish all letters if they were signed with the writer's name and address. Eventually, however, the paper agreed to publish an apology.
British Columbia journalist Doug Collins's book, Here We Go Again!, a collection of his columns originally published in the provincial newspaper North Shore News, was published by Colpress in West Vancouver in 1998. The book, like Collins's columns (adjudged to be antisemitic in a court of law in 1999, see Legal matters), contains attacks on Jews, homosexuals, feminists, non-white immigrants, people of colour and anti-racists, as well as endorsements of Holocaust denial and white supremacy.
In March 1998 Ernst Zundel's lover, Ingrid Rimland, who runs what is effectively Zundel's web-site from California (see Legal matters), published a trilogy of novels entitled Lebensraum! A Passion for Land and Peace (published by Zundel's publishing house Samisdat). Days later Canadian customs agents confiscated a shipment of the books at the US border, on the grounds that they violate Canada's anti-hate legislation.
Michel Vastel, a prominent columnist with Quebec City's newspaper Le Soleil, raised hackles in June 1998 for suggesting that Alliance Quebec (an Anglophone rights group) had too many Jews within its leadership ranks. Although Vastel apologized to the organization in a subsequent column, he remarked that Jews ought not to be represented more than proportionally 'among the dominant figures of that association'. The incoming Alliance president William Johnson denounced Vastel as an antisemite, and recalled an occasion, in a December 1996 radio interview, when Vastel objected to Jewish criticism of Lionel Groulx, the spiritual father of Quebec separatism, because of his antisemitism: 'I don't think it was right what the Jewish people did in crucifying Jesus Christ . . . I will not put the Jewish people on trial for that and they can lay off our Lionel Groulx.'
Gazeta, a Polish-language newspaper in Toronto, published a two-part article about Jews in its Christmas and New Year 1998/9 issues. The article employed classic antisemitic canards as well as the accusation that Jews collaborated with the Nazis against members of their own community. The author, Father Jan Kurdybelski, described the Jewish nation as 'perfidious and hated by God' and claimed that a tractate of the Talmud 'teaches how to swindle Christians in trade'. After the CJC pointed out to the editors that the article promoted hatred of an identifiable group, a violation of Canadian law, they agreed in April 1999 to retract the article and print an apology. Gazeta appears five times a week and has an average daily circulation of 3,500-4,000.
Montreal's La Presse twice employed the pejorative French term 'juiverie' for Jews in a February 1999 article about the Israeli election campaign. Both the CJC and the Canada-Israel Committee protested, as did the consul-general of Israel. The journalist who wrote the offending article had been cited in 1989 for a series of controversial articles that compared Israel to the Third Reich.
After a visit to Toronto in March 1999 the controversial British New Age author and former sportsman David Icke (see United Kingdom) returned in October to Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor. During this visit he delivered a five-hour lecture to some 400 spectators at a University of Toronto lecture theatre where he was met by a vigorous demonstration denouncing his conspiracy theories. Icke's speech reiterated the sentiments in his latest book, The Biggest Secret. but made no mention of the Jews. Icke said a group of 'reptilian shapeshifters' were controlling the world: 'Is it a Jewish plot? No, no, no. Is it a plot? Yes, yes, yes.' Icke's book, however, which was on display, claims that the Torah was written 'by a bunch of human-sacrificing, blood-drinking fanatics and black magicians whom you would not trust to tell you the time'. Several venues in Ottawa and Windsor had cancelled Icke's talk after protests by the Green Party and the Jewish community.
Canadian legislators and the judiciary have begun to implement the means to apply to the Internet the Human Rights Act that prohibits repeated communications by telephone that promote hatred (see Legal matters). These moves have provoked strenuous reactions from freedom of speech advocates who echo the US constitutional position of absolute freedom of speech.
The spread of hate over the Internet becomes an increasingly important phenomenon as Internet usage expands at a rapid rate. Commentators also suggest that the Internet has become the first choice for hate groups for propaganda and recruitment, replacing print media and recruiting at schools.
Among the racist web-sites identified as originating in Canada - including, as well as sites mentioned below, Digital Freedom Canada, Friends of Freedom, Scarborough Skinheads and Women for Aryan Unity - is a French one, Nationalistes Quebecois Aryens, originating in Montreal and linked to an American white-supremacist site. The site attacks Jews in specific terms and also encourages Quebecois hostility to minorities. It was shut down in January 1999 by its Internet service provider, TotalNet, after Canadian Simon Wiesenthal Center director Sol Littman complained to Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard. There was a similar development in Calgary in February 1999 involving the web-site of the Society for the Segregation of the Races, which Littman described as containing 'pure Hitler racism', and which was also shut down by its service provider, CadVision. In all, Littman claims to have identified some fifty racist web-sites in Canada that were each closed down by their service providers after the Wiesenthal Center informed them about the contents.
Another development concerns the use of on-line discussion groups and chat rooms. One of the former, the Now Magazine Readers' Forum, has been the site of numerous racist, sexist, antisemitic and homophobic messages for many months and, despite, complaints, Now Magazine maintained that screening the messages would be a violation of free speech rights and instead opted for issuing a disclaimer beneath each message. In April 1998 someone calling themselves 'Adolf Hitler' issued death threats against Jews in general and against Frank Dimant, BBC's executive vice-president in particular. In view of this more serious posting - a death threat is a criminal act in Canada - Now Magazine installed software allowing for the screening of postings by staff members. The technological complications of the Internet have meant that the perpetrator in this case has not been traced and no arrest has been made.
Most of Canada's far-right ideologues maintain websites both to disseminate propaganda and recruit new supporters. The Toronto-based Freedom-Site of Marc Lemire is linked to the web-sites of such organizations as the virulently antisemitic Heritage Front and the Canadian Patriots Network, as well as Paul Fromm's CAFÉ and C-FAR (see Antisemitic incidents: manifestations in education). Lemire, who is allegedly employed as Ernst Zundel's webmaster (see Legal matters), operates an e-mail newsletter and a telephone hotline. Lemire was a candidate in 1997 for the position of school trustee in a Toronto public school (ward P17). He received 2,285 votes representing 12 per cent of the total.
The service provider for the web-sites of several Canadian hate groups - including the Heritage Front, Liberty Net, the Euro-Christian Defense League and the virulently white-supremacist Charlemagnes Hammerskins (see France) - is Fairview Technology Center Ltd. owned by Bernard Klatt of Oliver, British Columbia. In the early months of 1998, the local media focused attention on Fairview, describing it as host to more than twenty illegal racist web-sites and responsible for the town of Oliver being dubbed 'the hate capital of Canada'. The Oliver municipal authorities cancelled a booking by Klatt in the town's community centre in March when they learned that the proposed meeting would host several of Canada's most notorious racists. At that time pressure was exerted on the phone company that Klatt was using, BC Tel, to discontinue access to the Internet to those web-sites that contain illegal racist material. BC Tel initially refused to so act and referred the matter to the provincial attorney general. When a local caretaker at a Sikh temple was killed by five racist thugs with reported links to far-right and skinhead groups (see Legal matters), increased pressure from human rights groups and the media succeeded in causing BC Tel to rethink its position. It then added a liability clause into Klatt's contract of service, making him responsible for any illicit material housed on his server; in response, Klatt decided not to renew the contract with BC Tel.
Bill C-41, which cites hate motivation as an aggravating factor upon sentencing, was enacted into law in September 1996 as an amendment to the Criminal Code. Bill C-41 recognizes the increased trauma for victims of crimes directed at minority communities and provides for penalties which reflect the hate-motivated nature of these offences. The effect of increased awareness of hate/bias crime by legal and law-enforcement agencies is being felt. Strong measures have recently been taken by several police hate crimes units and crown attorneys in applying the hate laws, and adopting training and public awareness campaigns to further the fight against all forms of racism and hate.
Since June 1997 Holocaust-denier and antisemitic publisher Ernst Zundel (see Holocaust denial) has been facing a tribunal inquiry of the Human Rights Commission regarding his Internet website, the so-called Zundelsite, based in California and nominally run by Ingrid Rimland, Zundel's lover (see Publications and media). The commission was acting in response to complaints that Zundel was posting material that exposed Jews to hatred or contempt and denied the Holocaust. The Commission contends that, despite the fact that the web-site is based in California, Zundel controls its contents and can be prosecuted under Canadian law. In June 1998 the Tribunal ruled that two of Zundel's expert witnesses - including Robert Countess from the Institute for Historical Review (see USA) - were unfit to appear, bringing to a total of four the number of 'experts' whose credentials have been refuted by the Tribunal. Other legal complications have delayed proceedings. In April 1999 a member of the Human Rights Tribunal hearing the case was removed from the panel by a federal court judge because of the perception of bias, halting progress in the case pending an appeal. The member, Reva Devins, had in 1988, while serving on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, praised a criminal conviction of Zundel.
Zundel's application for Canadian citizenship, lodged in 1994, decades after his arrival in Canada as a landed immigrant from Germany, is still pending. In May 1998 he lost his appeal to the Supreme Court to quash the findings of the Security Intelligence Service Review Committee (SIRC) that he constitutes a national security risk, which would be grounds not only for denying his application but also possibly for deporting him.
Zundel's third legal proceeding involves his being banned from the parliamentary buildings in June 1998 when he tried to hold a press conference there. In the words of House of Commons leader Don Boudria: 'Ernst Zundel doesn't belong in the temple of understanding and tolerance and democracy.' Zundel launched a lawsuit against the political parties and their leaders who had supported the ban. However, in February 1999, Justice James Chadwick dismissed the suit on the grounds that there was not reasonable cause of action and that the dignity and integrity of Parliament must be preserved.
Zundel's lawyer, Doug Christie (see Parties, organizations, movements), was also banned by House of Commons Speaker Gilbert Parent in January 1999, thereby preventing him from holding a press conference. Parent's action was backed by leaders of all five political parties represented in the House.
The long history of litigation involving former New Brunswick schoolteacher and Holocaust denier Malcolm Ross - who was finally removed from the classroom following a Supreme Court decision in April 1996 - continues to grow. In April 1998 Ross won a judgement of C$7,500 (US$5,100) against cartoonist Josh Beutel, who depicted Ross as a Nazi in a cartoon used during a 1993 teachers' workshop (see also Antisemitic incidents). Judge Paul Creaghan, presiding over the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench, ruled that Beutel had libelled Ross since, despite being a racist and antisemite, Ross had not been proved to be a Nazi and that indeed there were meaningful differences between Ross and the Nazis. Victor Goldberg, president of the Atlantic Jewish Council of CJC, attacked the judgement: 'the judge has sent out a message that hatemongering is a legitimate opinion in our society'. Beutel has launched an appeal.
Doug Collins and the North Shore News, a local community newspaper in the province, were fined C$2,000 (US$1,360) by the province's Human Rights Tribunal for publishing several antisemitic articles in 1994 (see also Publications and media). The decision was handed down in February 1999. They were also ordered to apologize for promoting hatred against Jews, to refrain from publishing further attacks on Jews, and to publish a summary of the decision. The Tribunal found that the four articles in question 'collectively and through repetition of anti-Semitic themes, take on a vicious tone that taps into a centuries-old pattern of persecution and slander of Jews'. Thus the articles were likely to expose Jews to religious hatred or contempt. The complaint was brought by Victoria businessman Harry Abrams as a follow-up to an earlier case in which Collins had avoided an adverse judgement. Collins, represented by Zundel's lawyer Doug Christie (see above), decided to appeal the Abrams decision on the grounds that the British Columbia Human Rights Act section dealing with the promotion of hatred is unconstitutional, while the newspaper protested the alleged loss of its rights under freedom of the press.
In May 1998 a British Columbia Supreme Court judge ruled in favour of Eileen Pressler and her husband Claus in their libel suit against a Salmon Arm anti-racist activist and psychology professor at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan University College, David Lethbridge. Eileen Pressler is the founder of the Council on Public Affairs and was the editor of its newsletter, CPA Digest, in the early 1990s. In a programme broadcast on Westcom's CHBC television station, Lethbridge had repeated allegations about a property that the Presslers' owned intending to be used as a paramilitary training-ground and meeting venue for far-right groups, allegations that the judge found to be unfounded. However, the judge also described views expressed in CPA Digest as going 'beyond what is acceptable in a free and democratic society. They engender hatred of identifiable groups in violation of the Criminal Code. Thus they are beyond the pale of the law.'
In the autumn of 1999 five men from the Vancouver area - Robert Kluch, Radoslaw Synderek, Daniel Miloszewski, Nathan LeBlanc and an unnamed minor - were sentenced to between 15 and 18 years in prison after being found guilty of manslaughter following the killing of the caretaker of a Sikh temple in Surrey (British Columbia) in April 1998. Police claim that the five beat Nirmal Singh Gill, 65, to death after attending a white-supremacist gathering, and that they have links to various hate groups (see Parties, organizations, movements and Publications and media). The fatal assault took place weeks after LeBlanc was expelled from the Canadian armed forces. (He had served at the base that was home to the all-volunteer Canadian Airborne Regiment, disbanded in 1997 after a government report exposed the violently racist nature of its activities, including the torture and killing of four Somali citizens by members of the regiment on duty in Somalia in March 1993.) At the sentencing trial a 'Plan B' of the five was revealed in which they discussed killing 100 Indo-Canadian children at an elementary school.
A Canadian Forces naval officer, Andrew Liebmann, claimed in a lawsuit that he was denied a key posting during the Gulf War because he was Jewish. In September 1998 a judge of the federal court found his contention to be true but denied him any relief on the grounds that the action in question had not violated the Charter of Rights. However, the court criticized the military's policy of taking into account 'the cultural, religious, or other sensitivities of the parties to the conflict and the host country' for being poorly drafted.
In September 1998 eight neo-Nazi skinhead members of the Northern Hammerskins from Montreal and Quebec were arrested in connection with a record 240 criminal charges following a series of violent attacks on anti-racist activists in downtown Montreal between March and July of that year. In October three of those charged were found guilty of the charge, and the Quebec judge ruled the attack to have been motivated by racism and passed extended sentences based on Bill C-41 (see above). An appeal is due to be heard in February 2000.
In April 1998 racist agitator Quinn McFarlane - who already had a record of eight assault convictions - was given a conditional discharge for another assault on a journalist. Two months later, in June, McFarlane was sentenced to eighteen months in prison for an earlier assault on a black man in Toronto, the judge invoking Bill C-41 in passing an enhanced sentence. In April 1999 a Toronto appeal court reversed the conditional discharge of the previous year and imposed a sentence of 12 months in prison.
McFarlane is also among the seven skinheads facing charges from the anti-Roma protest in August 1997. In April 1999 lawyers representing the skinheads filed an application to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that the courts were unfairly singling out the skinheads while ignoring inflammatory anti-Roma comments by others, such as Gordon Chong, a Toronto councillor (see Racism and xenophobia). The defence subpoenaed Bernie Farber and implied during questioning that he had undue influence with the police, the attorney general and the chief counsel of the Crown law office, the latter two being Jewish. In November Farber was disqualified by a Ontario provincial court judge from appearing as an expert witness at the trial on the grounds of possible bias. One of the me, Walter Froebrich, pleaded guilty in April 1999 and was sentenced to a ninety-day conditional sentence with a one-year probation.
Neo-Nazi skinhead George Burdi (see Parties, organizations, movements) has run into a number of problems with the law. In February 1997 an Ontario appeals court upheld his one-year prison sentence for his 1993 attack on a woman who protested against his racist activities. Furthermore, in order to escape Canada's anti-hate laws, Burdi's Resistance Records, which records skinhead rock music, began distributing its neo-Nazi and racist materials from an office in Detroit, across the border from Burdi's home in Windsor. In September 1997 police in Detroit raided his office and seized some 200,000 CDs, cassettes and subscription lists. Burdi's business records and computers were also seized by police from his Windsor home. Following these raids, Burdi and colleagues Joseph Talic and Jason Snow were charged with willfully promoting hatred and conspiracy to promote hatred. In October 1999 he pleaded guilty to the charges and was given a one-year conditional sentence, which may be served in the community, prohibiting him from involvement with racist activities.
In September 1999 an Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the use of denominational prayers in public institutions is a violation of the freedom of religion statute of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case was brought by Henry Freitag of Penatanguishene, a town north of Toronto, who objected to the town council opening meetings with the Lord's Prayer. Despite the ruling, various institutions in the province continue to open proceedings with Christian prayers.
In May 1998 Canada's largest Protestant denomination, the United Chuch of Canada, issued a report entitled Bearing Faithful Witness: United ChurchJewish Relations Today in which it calls on its members to stop attempting to convert Jews to Christianity (see Religious antisemitism). The moderator of the United Church, the Rev. Bill Phipps said: 'Christianity does not supersede Judaism.' The widely-praised report acknowledges the close links between Christianity and Judaism, and condemns interpretations that lead to antisemitism.
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in January 1999, a first for a Canadian head of government. He was accompanied by the CJC president Moshe Ronen and national director Jack Silverstone, both sons of Holocaust survivors. Afterwards the Canadian Polish Congress protested that it had been left out of the visit to the death camp. In ceremonies at the camp, Chretien called the visit 'the most moving pilgrimage I've ever made in my life'.
In March 1999 BBC hosted the Second International Symposium on Hate on the Internet, attended by approximately 150 delegates from France, Sweden, Germany, Israel, England, Australia and the United States.
In the summer of 1999 the Canadian branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center initiated two-day Internet training sessions for police personnel. The main emphasis of the training is to familiarize police officers with search engines, chat rooms and web-sites that preach messages of hatred.
Ken McVay, founder and director of the Nizkor Project - a web-site that has played a significant role in debunking Holocaust denial for over a decade (www.nizkor.org) - said in October 1999 that the project has only sufficient funding to last until the end of the year. Angered by encountering Holocaust denial on the Internet in the early 1990s McVay set out definitively to refute its claims one by one. The site grew from 27 pages in 1995 to over 5,000 pages, including the entire transcript of the Adolf Eichmann trial. Donations to the Nizkor Fund can be made via its administrator, the League for Human Rights of BBC.
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