The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

1995 Audit of
Anti-Semitic Incidents


B'nai Brith Canada has been at the forefront of the battle against anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry for more than a century. Through the League for Human Rights, B'nai Brith monitors the activities of hate groups in Canada and documents all reported incidents of anti-Semitism. The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, published annually since 1982 by the League for Human Rights, is a major vehicle for reporting our findings to the public.

In 1995, incidents of anti-Semitism continued to become more diffuse in nature. Whereas trends in hatred and bigotry directed at Canada's Jews between 1991 and 1993 were linked to specific activities, including the Gulf War and the rise of the Heritage Front and other neo-Nazi groups in Canada, the last two years have seen a more random pattern of anti- Semitism in this country.

Despite the decline of organized hate activity, several "mainstream" incidents of anti-Semitism in the last year proved to be equally disturbing. In September, two Toronto- based radio broadcasters made overtly anti-Semitic comments over the public airwaves. Although both commentators apologized for their remarks, the fact that they felt comfortable enough to air their biased views, as did several journalists in various communities and on campuses across the country, is a matter of serious concern for Canadian Jews.

In October and November, the Quebec referendum also produced a flurry of bigotry directed at the non-Francophone population of the province. Jacques Parizeau, who was then premier of Quebec, lashed out at "the ethnic vote" for the narrow losses of his separatist forces. In earlier stages of the referendum campaign, Pierre Bourgault, a communications advisor to Parizeau, cryptically warned Quebec Jews of "a dangerous situation" if they openly supported the federalist side.

The significance of these events cannot be overstated. While the comments made by the politicians or the broadcasters were by no means as virulently intolerant as the charged rhetoric of the neo-Nazi right, their remarks served as signals that expressions of hatred and bias against Jews and other minorities were acceptable in contemporary Canadian culture. For political leaders and media personalities to espouse views hostile to Jews gives a message to the general population: anti-Semitism continues to be part of the canon of our culture. The press and politicians set the tone and terms of debate in our free and democratic state. They have the responsibility to condemn, not to promote, racism. Unfortunately, in 1995, this ideal was seriously compromised.

Despite these cases, positive steps have been made in fighting anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry in Canada this year. The influence and impact of neo-Nazi groups continues to sputter as a result of the legal troubles of many of the movement's leaders and by a lack of available money. In 1995, George Burdi, Dan Sims and Wolfgang Droege all served time in jail, which served to hamper the recruitment efforts of the racist-right.

New legislation, including the controversial Bill C-41, passed the House of Commons and the Senate, clearing the way for sentence enhancement for perpetrators of hate-motivated crimes. This law recognizes the serious impact of crimes directed at minority communities, and provides for penalties which reflect the increased severity of the offenses.

Despite these positive developments, Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel is continuing his worldwide distribution of anti-Semitic books, tracts and electronic broadcasts from his headquarters in downtown Toronto. The pace of spreading hate and Holocaust denial via the Internet is speeding up, and Jewish-owned homes and businesses, as well as schools and synagogues, continue to be targets for vandalism and harassment.

The annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents has been praised by community organizations, police departments, and government agencies from across Canada as a valuable resource in the battle against racism and hate activity. By providing an analysis of the nature and extent of reported anti-Semitic activity in Canada, the Audit provides a model for data collection and analysis, and helps guide decisions in resource allocation, legislative development, and plans for formal educational initiatives to confront racist attitudes and to sensitize all Canadians to the problems of hatred and intolerance.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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