Canadians ‘must not be complacent’ as antisemitism, hatred rise: Trudeau – National

Canadians cannot be complacent as antisemitism and hatred grow across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

Speaking at a Holocaust Remembrance Day memorial in Ottawa on Friday, the prime minister warned that in times of peace, people “look back at this atrocity, bewildered at how it could ever have been permitted to happen.”

“We wonder what could ever have driven people to such cruelty. But hate never overtakes us all at once. It creeps up inch by inch,” Trudeau said.

Lately, he added, “we have seen hateful and anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from dark corners of our society.”

“Canadians were horrified to see Nazi flags brought to Ottawa last year. It had a chilling effect,” he said, referencing the Nazi flag flown during the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests in February.

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“Hate is being amplified online and on other platforms. And so we cannot and must not be complacent. All Canadians, especially those of us here who are leaders, need to stand up and call it out plainly and loudly.”

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According to Statistics Canada, hate crimes targeting the Jewish community have been on the rise. In 2021, there was a 47 per cent increase in police-reported hate crimes against Jewish people. Of the 884 religion-based hate crimes reported to police that year, 487 of them targeted the Jewish community.

On top of that, there have been high-profile incidents of antisemitism in popular culture in the last year. Rapper Kanye West publicly praised Adolf Hitler in a spate of antisemitic posts online that spurred a fierce wave of condemnation.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also spoke at the ceremony, and called on Canadians to fight the “evil” that led to the Holocaust “every day.”

“We must, every time we hear these utterances of hatred and antisemitism, speak out strongly and unequivocally against them,” he said. “When we do that, and only then will we live up to the privilege and the honour it is for us to live here as Canadians.”

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Click to play video: 'Honouring International Holocaust Remembrance Day'

Honouring International Holocaust Remembrance Day

A study commissioned by Canadian charity Liberation75 last year found that one in three students of the 3,000 surveyed believed the Holocaust was fabricated or not reported accurately.

Earlier this month, Ottawa police charged two high school students with public incitement of hatred, criminal harassment, and mischief following an incident in which they were accused of displaying a hate symbol and using antisemitic language.

“It was hellish,” said B’nai Brith Canada in a statement on Friday marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Yet, today, the type of hatred and antisemitism that inspired the Holocaust is surfacing at an alarming rate worldwide, including in Canada. History often repeats but it is our mission to make sure this ugliness does not return. Never again.”

— with files from Global News’ Caryn Lieberman

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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