The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

1995 Audit of
Anti-Semitic Incidents


Despite the setbacks suffered by the racist right, with many of their leaders in and out of court and serving jail sentences, hatemongers continued to be active in Canada in 1995. Holocaust denier, Ernst Zundel continued to distribute anti-Semitic hate propaganda at home and abroad, primarily over the Internet. Charles Scott, "Aryan of the Year" openly toured British Columbia trying to attract more people to his racist cause. And open gang and hate group activity was evident in smaller Ontario towns such as Pickering, Oakville, Brampton, and St. Catherines.

Christian missionary groups seemed to be picking up their proselytizing and targeting of Jewish communities, in particular, usually not revealing their true identity or intention until an unsuspecting organization or institution has accepted their booking or their material for distribution.

Still, the majority of incidents reported to the League for Human Rights were instigated by individuals with no apparent affiliation to organized groups. In 1995, as in recent years, Canadian Jews routinely received hate letters espousing everything from Holocaust denial, to conspiracy theories, to death threats, to advocating the destruction of the State of Israel.

Two major concerns expressed by the League in 1994 have come to fruition. The first is the use of the Internet and other electronic communication networks for the distribution of hate propaganda. At present in Canada, no mechanism exists to implement existing legislation to regulated racist and anti-Semitic transmissions via computer. The League has launched a Task Force to address this and other creative ways to counter the ever-widening effects of hate on the internet, including active educational programming and materials.

Secondly, in 1994 we predicted that it was only a matter of time before new organizations emerged, tapping into the pool of racist race, fuelled by the increasing backlash against immigration, multiculturalism and equity hiring programmes. Ignorance of policies, and anger at rising unemployment leave a fertile ground for scapegoating of minorities. Backlash against inclusive human rights policies leave victims feeling even more vulnerable.

And vocal opposition to strengthening and broadening human rights legislation, albeit legitimate opposition in the parliamentary context, gave license for right-wing extremists to come out of the woodwork and perpetrate crimes of gay bashing and vandalism. Mean- spirited comments from political leaders in Ontario and Quebec about immigration, 'ethnics', 'special interest groups' , and stereotyping 'welfare cheats', create a climate of tension, scapegoating, and fear-mongering that is a breeding ground for more extremist activity. Even though some of the better-known racist groups seem to be weakened at this time, it would be naive to assume that large-scale organized hate will not resurface in Canada.

As we move into 1996, we are encouraged by the legislation passed last year for sentencing enhancement for hate motivated crime, and by the proliferation of hate/bias crimes units in police forces across the country. But law making and law enforcement is only part of the battle against hatred in Canada. We have said before that it is essential to promote multicultural anti-racist education to heighten awareness of racism and to provide practical non-violent skills to counteract it. But important programs of this nature have been eroded and even eliminated completely through government cutbacks, weakening the strides that have been made in this area in the last few years. At the same time, incidents of violence and harassment have increased in schools and communities.

More than ever, now is the time to strengthen community coalitions and launch informed and coordinated community action to ensure that all Canadians strive to refute the hatemongers and to build upon and promote the diversity that has made Canada the great country it is today. We cannot afford to allow all of the advances we have made in human rights and equality be eroded any further.

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

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