Antisemitism in Canada

Antisemitism in Canada has affected Canadian Jews ever since Canada's Jewish community was established in the 18th century.[1][2]


Between 1930 and 1939, Canada rejected almost all Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe, taking in only 4,000 of the 800,000 Jews looking for refuge, as documented in the book None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933-1948, co-authored by the Canadian historians Irving Abella and Harold Troper and published in 1983.[3] The MS St. Louis sailed from Hamburg in May 1939, carrying 937 Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Nazi persecution.[4] The destination was Cuba, but officials in Havana cancelled Jewish passengers' visas. Jewish immigration was strictly limited in North America, so the passengers were denied entrance to Canada and the United States.[3][4]

Outbreaks of violence against Jews and Jewish property culminated in August 1933 with the Christie Pits riots; six hours of violent conflict between Jewish and Christian youth in Toronto, Ontario. Swastikas and Nazi slogans began to crop up on Toronto's eastern beaches, and Jewish swimmers were attacked.[5][6]

In 1934, Adrien Arcand started a Parti national social chrétien in Montreal patterned after the Nazi party. His party's actions resulted in anti-Semitic rallies, boycotts, propaganda and literature, and the inception of several other Nazi-like organizations throughout Canada. Also in 1934, all interns at Hôpital Notre-Dame in Montréal walked off the job to protest the hiring of a Jewish senior intern who had graduated from the Université de Montréal, Dr. Samuel Rabinovitch. The dispute was resolved after several days when the new intern resigned his position. The hospital administration did arrange another internship post for Dr. Rabinovitch in St. Louis, Missouri where he remained until 1940, after which he returned to Montréal and a medical practice.[7][8][9]

In 1938, a National Fascism Convention was held in Toronto's Massey Hall.[10]

Anti-semitic residential segregation was also prevalent during the 1930s and 1940s, and was accomplished through restrictive covenants. These were agreements among owners of properties to not sell or rent to members of certain races, including Jews, or were clauses registered against deeds by land developers that restricted ownership based on racial origin. At the time, restrictive covenants could be enforced by the courts.[10]

A 1943 Gallup poll put Jews in third place, behind the Japanese and Germans, as the least desirable immigrants to Canada.[10]

A 1948 article on antisemitism in Canada written for MacLean's magazine by Pierre Berton illustrates this racism: Berton hired two young women to apply for the same jobs, one under the name Greenberg, and the other under the name Grimes. While Grimes received interviews for nearly every application, positions available for Grimes were "already filled" when Greenberg applied, or Greenberg's applications were ignored. When Berton contacted several of these companies, he was told, "Jews did not have the right temperament," that "they don't know their place" or that "we don't employ Jews."[10]

Berton, during his research on Canadian anti-Semitism, sent two different letters to 29 summer resorts, one signed Marshall, the other signed Rosenberg. "Marshall" was able to book twice as many reservations as "Rosenberg." Some resorts did not reply to "Rosenberg", and some told "Rosenberg" they were fully booked.[10]


Antisemitism is still a concern in contemporary Canada.[11] The non-profit B'nai Brith Canada monitors incidents and issues an annual audit of these events.

In 1989, Alberta public school teacher James Keegstra was convicted under the Criminal Code for "wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group". Keegstra had taught in his classes that the Holocaust was a hoax and that Jewish people were plotting to take over the world, and would fail students who did not reproduce his beliefs in class or in examinations.[12] Keegstra appealed his conviction, claiming that the law infringed on his freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with the Supreme Court of Canada eventually ruling in R v Keegstra that the infringement was justified and upheld the law.

On November 2011 an antisemitic attack took place at the south Winnipeg high school when a teen approached a 15-year-old girl as they crossed paths near his locker and began talking to her. He pulled out a lighter and started flicking it near her head, saying, "let's burn the Jew".[13]

On April 12, 2012, several Jewish-owned summer homes in Val-Morin, Quebec were broken into and defaced with swastikas and anti-semitic messages.

According to the "2013 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents" written by the B'nai Brith Canada, there was a decrease of 5.3% in the number of antisemitic incidents during 2013. Despite that, cases of vandalism rose by 21.8% while violence increased by one incident and harassment cases dropped by 13.9%.[14] These incidents include antisemitic graffiti, paintings of swastikas in Jewish neighborhood, firebomb attacks, antisemitic statements, etc.[15] Antisemitic graffiti and swastika inscriptions has been also found during 2014.[16][17]

In March 2015, a Toronto police published the 2014 Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report. According to the report, the victim group most targeted in 2014 was the Jewish community, with occurrence of 30% of all the hate crimes in Toronto. The total number of reported incidents that occurred on antisemitic base was 52, which makes the Jewish community to the most targeted population to assaults.[18][19]

In June 2015, B'nai B'rith Canada published the "2014 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents". Contrasted with 2014 results, there was an increase of almost 30% in antisemitic incidents. The audit showed a peak of acts during July with the onset of operation Protective Edge in Gaza. According to the report, most of the incidents (1013) were defined as 'harassment', when the fewest (19) were under the category of 'violence'. As in previous years audits, Ontario leads the number of incidents reported at 961, or 59% of the total.[20] (See section on the "New antisemitism" in Canada below.)

Annual Incidents Figures by Category 2012-2014 [20]
Category 2012 2013 2014 2015
1. Vandalism 319 388 238
2. Violence 13 14 19
3. Harassment 1013 872 1370
TOTAL 1345 1274 1627

According to a phone survey of 510 Canadians conducted by the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) in 2013-2014, an estimated 14% (+/- 4.4%) of the adult population in Canada harbor substantial antisemitic opinions.[21]

On March 2016 the Toronto Police published its annual report of hate-crimes during 2015. According to it, the Jewish population is the group most targeted to hate-crimes, especially when it comes to mischief to property occurrences.[22] Moreover, in occurrences involve religion, most of the victims are part of the Jewish community (in 31 out of 58 cases). The report found that the Jewish community makes up only 3.8% of the religious population in the City of Toronto but was victimized in approximately 23% of the total hate/bias crimes in 2015.[22]

"New antisemitism" in Canada

In 2009, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism was established by major federal political parties to investigate and combat antisemitism - particularly what is referred to as the new antisemitism.[23] It is argued that this form of hate targets Israel, consisting of and fed by allegations of Israeli "war crimes" and similar claims. Anti-Israel actions that led to the formation of a Parliamentary Coalition included boycott campaigns on university campuses and in some churches, spilling over into attacks on synagogues, Jewish institutions and individuals. Activities such as "Israel Apartheid Week" at Concordia (Montreal), York University and the University of Toronto, and boycott campaigns targeting Israel (BDS) included what some considered as "forms of antisemitism".[24][25]

On September 9, 2002 at Concordia University a pro-Palestinian group sought to prevent a scheduled speech by the then former (and now current) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the event was cancelled as a result. [27]

At York University, in 2009, violent pro-Palestinian activists attacked Jewish students, shouting "Zionism equals racism!" and "Racists off campus!" One witness stated that the attackers "started banging the door and windows, intimidating Jewish students and screaming antisemitic slurs like "Die Jew," "Get the hell off campus," "Go back to Israel," and "F---ing Jew".[26] The students barricaded themselves inside the Hillel offices, where protesters reportedly banged on the windows and attempted to force their way in. Police were called to escort Jewish students through the protesters.[27][28][29][30][31]

In 2009 antisemitic graffiti was scrawled on a Jewish memorial in Ottawa, and attributed to a pro-Palestinian group.

Leading Canadian Jewish groups such as CIJA and Bnai Brith Canada took the lead in responding, while other organisations such as the Canadian branch of the New Israel Fund chose not to play a role. In August 2012, CIJA opposed the United Church of Canada (UCC) boycott and divestment campaign, and CIJA's CEO Shimon Fogel distinguished between criticism of Israeli policies and initiatives that single out Israel for economic coercion.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Manuel Prutschi, "Anti-Semitism in Canada", Fall 2004. Accessed March 29, 2008.
  2. ^ Dr. Karen Mock, "Hate Propaganda and Anti-Semitism: Canadian Realities" Archived 2008-08-27 at the Wayback Machine, April 9, 1996. Accessed March 29, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Abella, Irving; Troper, Harold (1983). None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933-1948.
  4. ^ a b "The Story: The Voyage". Voyage of the St. Louis. Washington, DC: United States Memorial Holocaust Museum. Archived from the original on 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  5. ^ Remembering Toronto's Christie Pits Riot Daniel Bitonti, The Globe and Mail, Aug.9, 2013
  6. ^ Remembering the Christie Pits riot Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star, Aug.10, 2013
  7. ^ Days of shame, Montreal, 1934 Peter Wilton, CMAJ Dec. 9, 2003 vol. 169 no. 12 p.1329
  8. ^ Doctor was central figure in 1934 hospital strike David Lazarus, Canadian Jewish News Nov. 25, 2010
  9. ^ Dr. Sam Rabinovitch and The Notre-Dame Hospital Strike - Hôpital Notre-Dame Museum of Jewish Montreal
  10. ^ a b c d e Adelman, Howard and John H. Simpson, eds. Multiculturalism, Jews and Identities in Canada. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1996.
  11. ^ "Anti-semitism incidents jump five-fold in Canada". 2010-04-11. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  12. ^ David Bercuson and Douglas Wertheimer, A Trust Betrayed: The Keegstra Affair, Toronto and New York: Doubleday, 1985
  13. ^ Turner, James (January 2, 2014). "Judge agrees lighter attack at a high school not racially motivated". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  14. ^ "2013 Audit of antisemitic incidents" (PDF). B'nai Brith. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  15. ^ "Antisemitic Incidents". CFCA. CFCA. Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Photo Galleries Racist, anti-Semitic graffiti found near Ottawa River". CBC News. Apr 19, 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  17. ^ "Swastika was scrawled at the entrance to Kiryas Tosh". CFCA. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  18. ^ Lungen, Paul (March 23, 2015). "Police find Jews most targeted for hate crimes". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  19. ^ "Police find Jews most targeted for hate crimes". CFCA. Toronto Police. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  20. ^ a b "2014 Annual Audit Of Antisemitic Incidents" (PDF). B'nei Brith. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  21. ^ "ADL global 100- Canada". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  22. ^ a b "2015 Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report" (PDF). Toronto Police Service. 2015.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2011-05-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "UToronto and York students launch BDS campaign -". 2011-03-20. Retrieved 2016-09-04.
  25. ^ "York University accused of allowing anti-Semitism to spread". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  26. ^ Shefa, Sheri (February 19, 2009). "Jewish students under 'siege' at York U". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  27. ^ Democracy takes a beating at York Archived July 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine by Atara Beck, The Jewish Tribune, February 17, 2009.
  28. ^ An eyewitness account of this week's aggressive intimidation of Jewish students at York University by Jonathan Blake Karoly, National Post, February 12, 2009.
  29. ^ Campuses awash in tension over Israel apartheid week By Craig Offman, National Post, March 3, 2009 (posted on
  30. ^ York University sanctions student groups over rally clashes, National Post, March 5, 2009
  31. ^ "Krisna Saravanamuttu and Jesse Zimmerman barricade Jewish students at York". Youtube. June 29, 2010. Retrieved March 27, 2015.


External links

Adrien Arcand

Adrien Arcand (October 3, 1899 – August 1, 1967) was a Montreal journalist who led a series of fascist political movements between 1929 and his death in 1967. During his political career, he proclaimed himself the Canadian Führer.

He was detained by the federal government for the duration of the Second World War under the Defence of Canada Regulations.

Beach O' Pines

Beach O' Pines is a private gated community located on the shores of Lake Huron in Lambton County, Ontario, Canada. It is located immediately outside of the community of Grand Bend, Ontario, and is bordered to the northwest by Lake Huron, the southwest by the Pinery Provincial Park, the northeast by the subdivision of Southcott Pines, and the southeast by the Old Ausable River Channel, Highway #21, and the subdivision of Huron Woods.

Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism

Formed in March 2009, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA) was a group of Canadian parliamentarians organized for the stated purpose of confronting and combating antisemitism in Canada. In particular, the CPCCA focuses on what it calls the "new antisemitism," which it sees as the revival of classically antisemitic beliefs in the guise of anti-Zionism.

The CPCCA comprised former and sitting Members of Parliament from the Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party and initially also from the Bloc Québécois. The coalition was not an official committee and was not established by the Canadian government or Parliament as a whole, but organized itself to conduct hearings and produce a report in the same manner as a parliamentary committee.

On July 7, 2011, the CPCCA released its final report on antisemitism in Canada.

Christie Pits riot

The Christie Pits riot occurred on 16 August 1933 at the Christie Pits (Willowvale Park) playground in Toronto, Ontario. The riot can be understood in the context of the Great Depression, anti-semitism, "Swastika Clubs" and parades and resentment of "foreigners" in Toronto, and the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany in 1933.

David Ahenakew

David Ahenakew (July 28, 1933 – March 12, 2010) was a Canadian First Nations (Cree) politician, and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Ahenakew was born at the Sandy Lake Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan. He and his wife, Grace Ahenakew, had five children.

Earth and High Heaven

Earth and High Heaven was a 1944 novel by Gwethalyn Graham. It was the first Canadian novel to reach number one on The New York Times bestseller list and stayed on the list for 37 weeks, selling 125 000 copies in the United States that year.

Set in Montreal, Quebec during World War II, the novel portrays a romance between Erica Drake, a young woman from a wealthy Protestant family in Westmount, and Marc Reiser, a Jewish lawyer and soldier from Northern Ontario. The young lovers are forced to confront and overcome the anti-Semitism of their society in their quest to form a lasting relationship.

Ezekiel Hart

Ezekiel Hart (May 15, 1770 – September 16, 1843) was an entrepreneur and politician in British North America. He is often said to be the first Jew to be elected to public office in the British Empire, though this assertion is discredited by the election of Francis Salvador to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1774.He was elected three times by the voters of Trois-Rivières to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada. Some members consistently prevented him from taking his seat by observing that as a Jew, he could not take the oath of office, which included the phrase "on the true faith of a Christian".

FAST – Fighting Antisemitism Together

FAST – Fighting Antisemitism Together, is a Canadian human rights activist group which opposes antisemitism and all intolerance. It was founded in 2005 and describes itself as "a coalition of non-Jewish Canadian community and business leaders dedicated to speaking out against humanity's oldest hatred."FAST was founded by Elizabeth and Tony Comper, former CEO and President of BMO Financial. The organization is unique in that its leadership is largely non-Jewish. FAST is a national non-profit organization with Nicole Miller as Executive Director in Toronto and regional directors in Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan/Manitoba region and Alberta.

FAST sponsors two human rights educational programs, online at no cost to educators and the public:

1. Choose Your Voice, a series of lesson plans and documentation for students in Grades 6, 7 and 8

2. "Voices into Action" - a teaching resource, curriculum-based for grades 9 to 12 and also used for adult education

Both programs were developed by curriculum experts at OISE-UT and teach people to speak out and take action against racism, antisemitism, homophobia, islamophobia and all intolerance. FAST won the Award of Excellence from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation in 2010 for Choose Your Voice and in 2016 for Voices into Action. Since 2005, Choose Your Voice has been delivered to more than 2.4 million Canadian students and Voices into Action has reached at least 630,000 Canadian students (high school and continuing education) since 2014.

Goldwin Smith

Goldwin Smith (13 August 1823 – 7 June 1910) was a British historian and journalist, active in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Imre Finta

Imre Finta (2 September 1912 – 1 December 2003) was the first person prosecuted under Canada's war crimes legislation. He was charged in 1987 and acquitted in 1990.

John Horne Blackmore

John Horne Blackmore (March 27, 1890 – May 2, 1971), a school teacher and principal by training, was the first leader of what became the Social Credit Party of Canada, a political party in Canada that promoted the social credit theories of monetary reform.

Ku Klux Klan in Canada

The Ku Klux Klan is an organization that expanded operations into Canada, based on the second Ku Klux Klan established in the United States in 1915. It operated as a fraternity, with chapters established in parts of Canada throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. The first registered provincial chapter was registered in Toronto in 1925 by two Americans and a Torontonian. The organization was most successful in Saskatchewan, where it briefly influenced political activity and whose membership included a member of Parliament.

Maurice Duplessis

Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis (French pronunciation: ​[d͡zyplɛsi]; 20 April 1890 – 7 September 1959) served as the 16th Premier of the Canadian province of Quebec from 1936 to 1939 and 1944 to 1959. He rose to power after uniting his Conservative party and the breakaway Action liberale nationale progressive faction of the Liberal party of Premier Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, to form a new conservative party, the Union Nationale.His era later was later labeled as La Grande Noirceur ("The Great Darkness") by its critics, but is also considered the greatest period of Quebec history by traditionalist conservatives who point out Duplessis government support of positive economic and social development based on strong family values in Catholic tradition, his support of private property rights vis-a-vis growing state and labour union challenges, and his strong opposition not only to Communism, but also to secularism, feminism, leftist separatism and other non-conservative political trends and movements that have changed and fragmented Quebec politics and society over the next 60 years, starting with the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s under his Liberal successor Jean Lesage.

During the Duplessis time, the Liberal opposition was unsuccessful in challenging Duplessis' power in 3 elections (1948, 1952 and 1956).

Duplessis championed rural areas, provincial rights, economic development, strong investment in Catholic education and anti-Communism, and had a hard stance with the trade unions.

Neo-Nazism in Canada

Neo-Nazism (French: le Néonazisme) is the post World War II ideology that promotes white supremacy and specifically antisemitism. In Canada, Neo-Nazism has existed as a branch of the far-right and has been a source of considerable controversy during the last 50 years.

Noble v Alley

Noble and Wolf v Alley [1951] S.C.R. 64 is a famous Supreme Court of Canada decision where the Court struck down a restrictive covenant that restricted ownership of a section of land to "persons of the white or Caucasian race".

None Is Too Many

None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933–1948 is a book co-authored by the Canadian historians Irving Abella and Harold Troper and published in 1983 about Canada's restrictive immigration policy towards Jewish refugees during the Holocaust years. The book helped popularize the phrase "none is too many" in Canada.

Norman Jaques

Norman Jaques (June 29, 1880 – January 31, 1949) was a Canadian farmer and federal politician. Jaques represented the electoral district of Wetaskiwin in the House of Commons of Canada from 1935 to 1949. Jaques was a member of the Social Credit Party.

R v Zundel

R v Zundel [1992] 2 S.C.R. 731 is a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision where the Court struck down the provision in the Criminal Code that prohibited publication of false information or news on the basis that it violated the freedom of expression provision under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Social Credit Board

The Social Credit Board was a committee in Alberta, Canada from 1937 until 1948. Composed of Social Credit backbenchers in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, it was created in the aftermath of the 1937 Social Credit backbenchers' revolt. Its mandate was to oversee the implementation of social credit in Alberta. To this end, it secured the services of L. Dennis Byrne and George Powell, two lieutenants of social credit's British founder, C. H. Douglas.

After requiring all Social Credit Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to sign loyalty oaths to it, the Social Credit Board proceeded to recommend radical legislation regulating banking, taxing banks, and restricting freedom of the press and access to courts. Most of this legislation was either disallowed by the federal government or ruled ultra vires (beyond the powers of) the province by the Supreme Court of Canada; these defeats and the advent of World War II made the Social Credit Board increasingly irrelevant. In its later years it became highly anti-Semitic, and it was dissolved by the government of Ernest Manning in 1948.

Core topics
Antisemitism and
Related topics
Religious antisemitism
Antisemitic laws, policies
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Antisemitic websites
Organizations working
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