“History teaches us that difficult conversations about religion must start from respect and inclusion, not hate and division.”
by Alan Simons
“Jewish Canadians have long been subjected to legalized forms of antisemitic discrimination. ‘None is too many’ was the response of a high-level Canadian government official when asked how many Jewish people should be accepted as immigrants, at the time of the Nazi persecution of Jewish people. Signs posted along Toronto beaches stated ‘No Dogs or Jews Allowed.’ Many hotels and resorts had policies prohibiting Jewish people as guests. There were restrictions on where Jewish people could live or buy property. In 1951, a Jewish man challenged a restrictive covenant preventing property from being sold to anyone of ‘the Jewish, Hebrew, Semitic, Negro or coloured race or blood.’ The Supreme Court of Canada declared the covenant void because, among other reasons, it was unclear.’”
– The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
CTV News reported this past April: “Incidents of antisemitism were on the rise for a fifth straight year in Canada, despite an overall decline in the number of incidents worldwide, according to a Jewish advocacy group.
“The analysis, which was conducted by Amanda Hohman and Aidan Fishman of B’Nai Brith Canada, suggests antisemitism ‘is becoming mainstream,’ based on a number of highly public incidents that occurred in 2017. “While final numbers for 2017 have not been compiled, there is no doubt that the five-year trend of elevated levels of antisemitism is continuing,” Hohman and Fishman write. Their perspective on Canada is included in a draft analysis of worldwide antisemitism in 2017, which was released by Tel Aviv University’s Kanton Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.
“Hohman and Fishman say Canada has seen a rise of antisemitism in all its forms online, at public protests, in politics, on university campuses and in several ‘brazen’ public assaults. Anti-semitic incidents and attacks spanned the political spectrum, ranging from the far-right to the far-left, with significant contributions from Islamic and Arab nationalists as well.
“The report also cites a number of antisemitic messages at protests over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
“Hohman and Fishman also highlighted problematic incidents at McGill University, Ryerson University and McMaster University.”
“All levels of government need to do better in order to stem the tide of anti-Semitism, which remains one of the most pervasive forms of hatred and discrimination in Canada,” Hohman and Fishman write.”
What has this all to do with the upcoming Ontario Provincial Election?
This Thursday, June 7, 2018, in the Province of Ontario people will head to their polling stations to cast their vote. The three primary political parties are The Progressive Conservatives (PC); the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Ontario Liberal Party (LP) which, since 2003 has formed the government of Ontario.
However, the Liberal’s under the leadership of Kathleen Wynne, the party that won 58 seats in the Legislature at the last election and had formed a majority government, Wynne last week astonishingly conceded defeat and threw in the towel, five days before the election, much to the chagrin of the vast number of volunteers who are utterly demoralized after having spent an inordinate amount of time working feverishly to support their local riding Liberal candidate.
As of now, the consensus is the Ontario Liberals will be thoroughly annihilated and might only be fortunate enough to get five seats.
What does this all mean for Ontario Jews?
Well, the choice is now basically between the left-wing NDP, and the right-wing Conservatives whose leader Doug Ford, the brother of Toronto’s infamous Mayor Rob Ford, has in the past come out strongly as a (Canadian) Trump supporter.
This is the same Doug Ford who The Canadian Jewish News (CJN) in 2014 reported, “tried to show his family’s affinity for the Jewish people, but ended up doubling down on Jewish stereotypes by saying: ‘You know something? My doctor – my Jewish doctor, my Jewish dentist, my Jewish lawyer – hold on, my Jewish accountant.” The crowd erupted into loud boos.
“This was not the first time that Ford engaged in racial stereotyping. A year earlier, in an interview with the Toronto Sun, Ford tried to engage the Jewish community by reminding the reporter that “they’re supportive, very supportive – they’re business people.”
The CJN also reported in reference to the current provincial election:
“There is more to Ford’s intolerance than the manner in which he sees racial minorities. Only a few weeks ago, he welcomed Tanya Granic Allen, possibly the most regressive and backward Progressive Conservative candidate, into the fold. And while Ford was forced to “fire” her a few weeks later, he can hardly claim not to have known about her bigoted proclivities, which were widely disseminated on social media.
“Allen has lamented same-sex marriage as society’s demise. She once characterized Muslim women wearing niqabs and burkas as ninjas and bank robbers. She also claimed that she survived the “abortion Holocaust” and has compared both the founder of Planned Parenthood and Canada’s first female magistrate, Emily Murphy, to Hitler.”
As to the NDP, a left-wing social democratic political party, they also have their party demons. CBC News reported on May 25, 2018, “Ontario NDP under fire for candidate’s Hitler-themed social media post.”
They added, referring to a 2013 social media meme shared by the NDP candidate in Toronto’s Scarborough–Agincourt, Tasleem Riaz:
“The Facebook post features a quote that is commonly attributed to Hitler overlaid over a photo of the tyrannical despot giving a Nazi salute to a gathered crowd. A title above the image reads, ‘The Ruler said about Rule.’ The phrase below it — “If you don’t like a rule … just follow it … reach the top … and change the rule,” is attributed to Hitler, though there’s no direct historical evidence the Nazi dictator ever uttered it.”
To which NDP candidate Tasleem Riaz replied:
“I am an interfaith advocate, and I have devoted my life to interfaith religious tolerance and freedom. I work closely with the Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Sikh and Muslim communities in my neighbourhood. In every way, I find Hitler, the hate he spewed, and the genocide he committed to be abhorrent.”
Bernie M. Farber is a Canadian writer, commentator, and the former chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress and a social activist. On his Facebook site this morning he had this to say about the upcoming Ontario Provincial Election:
“I have been sickened over the last 500 days watching the slow erosion of ethics, morals and decency in the United States that is Donald Trump. Many of us here in Ontario have sat back, perhaps a bit too smugly, thanking our lucky stars that we don’t live in America. Yet in two days this could all change! While it’s a very close election here, there remains a possibility that Doug Ford, a strong follower and supporter of Trump could become Premier. To be sure there are differences in a very Canadian way but the similarities are too stark and frankly too scary. When Trump was running for office he had the backing of all the white supremacist Neo-Nazis and White nationalists from former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke to other less well-known extremists. Ford has the same white supremacist support in Ontario.
“Trump was also supported by the hard right racist rump of the Republican Party, bigots, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes and antisemites. Ford has that same rump support here in Ontario. When he ran for office scandals began to emerge about Trump that should have torpedoed his campaign. We are seeing a similar scandal scenario playing itself out now here in Ontario with Doug Ford. If the nightmare plays itself out that Ontario smugness will be quickly wiped from our faces. And sadly as in America, we will only have ourselves to blame.”
I don’t know if Ontarians have recently been sitting back with a smug look on their faces. Certainly, there was a time. But now the vast majority of those smug faces who have suffered from potential potty accidents since Trump was elected and who equate Ford with Trump and who regard this election as their last hurrah to express their personal racially inspired vindictiveness towards anything left or right of centre, will somehow get their reckoning. I would like to believe that.
Yes, Ford in striking the first match, with a large ‘C’ for right-wing Conservatism, has shown within all political parties in Ontario there’s a society out there that’s utterly alarming, who now aren’t frightened to outright express their racially inspired and antisemitic views. These are the people in our society who we should focus on and should have been for years. This election has merely driven them out of their hibernated state. They have been looking for all the food they can eat and this election has supplied it to them, lock, stock, and barrel.
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Photo credit: Bernie Farber – Sassy Wire.
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