Fighting Antisemitism: A GTA Challenge and Municipal Election Priority

Oct 16, 2018 | Antisemitism, Community Partners, Toronto

Monday, October 22nd is municipal election day in Ontario.

Make sure to vote!

With municipal elections typically garnering a low voter turnout, we encourage community members to learn about the issues and candidates and make a priority of voting on Monday.

You can have a big impact on who will make the decisions that affect our community as mayor, on council and in particular as school board trustee. Click here to access the City of Toronto’s online tool for information about the candidates in your area. For a list of the candidates running in Vaughan, click here, and for Markham click here.

In the Greater Toronto Area, we are urging all municipal officials to advance our three-point plan to combat antisemitism:

  1. The City of Toronto should take steps to prevent extreme groups from using prominent public spaces to promote hate.

    In rare circumstances, city officials must be able to deny the use of prominent city sites (such as Nathan Phillips Square) for these types of events, such as Al Quds Day or white supremacist rallies. The city is currently reviewing its policies in this area. We encourage candidates to support this process and work collaboratively to ensure it leads to an effective result.

  2. The City of Toronto and York Region should do more to assist the Jewish community and other at-risk groups to cover essential security costs.

    Synagogues spend thousands every year hiring paid duty police officers to provide protection during the high holidays. It makes no sense that at-risk non-profit organizations pay the same rate for these services as corporations hiring police to staff a film shoot or a revenue generating event. We encourage candidates to support the goal of providing a meaningful discount to non-profit community institutions that hire paid duty police. As well, the city should help fund concrete security barriers, such as large planters and street furniture, outside Jewish facilities at key locations.

  3. Toronto Police Service and York Region Police should adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

    This definition includes clear parameters for what is – and is not – hateful toward Jews. This includes real-world examples that help distinguish antisemitic rhetoric from legitimate political discourse. Having been adopted by various governments and authorities around the world, including Global Affairs Canada, this definition now serves as the international standard for defining antisemitism. By using it as a practical guide, police will be better positioned to identify and combat hate motivated crimes targeting our community.

It is not too late for grassroots community members to take an active role in municipal politics. With a number of openly antisemitic and white supremacist candidates running for office in Ontario, some with explicit ties to Neo-Nazis, it is more important than ever to get involved. In addition to voting on election day, we encourage you to Contact CJPAC and volunteer with the campaign of your choice.



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