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September 14, 2022 4:14 pm

Antisemitism Should Be Topic in Upcoming Quebec Elections, Jewish Groups Says

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Protestors in downtown Montreal at a rally opposing Bill 96, a law imposing the French language. Photo: Reuters/Christinne Muschi

A Canadian Jewish group is calling on political parties in Quebec to make the fight against antisemitism a major issue in the province’s upcoming October 3 elections.

Citing statistics reporting a 67% rise in religiously motivated hate crimes across Quebec, 55% of which targeted the province’s 90,000 Jews, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said it has “provided Quebec’s political parties with concrete proposals to fight hate and are now waiting to see what they propose in response.”

“Despite the fact that Quebec is an open and tolerant society, there are still hateful individuals who have not understood this message,” a CIJA Quebec Vice President Eta Yudin explained on Monday. “All Quebecers have the right to feel sage in their homes, and that includes those of Jewish faith and descent.”

The recommendations CIJA issued include enhanced law enforcement responses to hate crimes, annual reports on incidents of discrimination issued by schools, and moderation of online hate speech. CIJA also urged political parties to explore adding a unit on the history and contributions of Jews in Quebec to the province’s educational curriculum.

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“Quebec’s Jewish community represents more than 250 years of belonging and contributions to our common nation,” Yudin continued. “The history of Quebec’s Jewish community is integral to Quebec’s history, and that must be recognized in the way Citizenship Education will be taught.”

CIJA’s statement comes weeks after the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) released survey results showing that Jews in Quebec “feel less accepted and less hopeful for the future of the next generation” than three years ago, when the National Assembly passed Bill 21 — also known as the “Secular Law — which prohibits civil servants to wear religious apparel of any kind.

Bill 96, a law declaring that “the only official language of Quebec is French,” followed Bill 21.

Since Bill 21’s passing, Jews have reported that their superiors mistreat them at work and that open hatred is a persistent problem, causing them to withdraw from political and social life. 38.5% of Jewish women said they are less willing to engage with the wider society, and nearly 60% of both Jewish men and women said they no longer feel like “full-fledged” members of society, ACS reported.

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