Jewish community troubled over plea deal in case stemming from May 2021 threats
Two defendants were arrested while driving around Jewish neighbourhood with knives and uttering threats toward Jewish community
MONTREAL, QC – February 22, 2023 – The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Federation CJA are troubled following the appearance on Monday of the second of two defendants arrested in May 2021, and initially charged with willful promotion of hatred, who pled guilty only to the charge of uttering threats at the Montreal Courthouse. Those in the courtroom were left to infer that the additional charge of willful promotion of hatred has been dropped in a plea deal, thereby eliminating the possibility for the court to evaluate the defendant's actions through the lens of hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code. The judge will render sentencing this spring.
On the evening of May 17, 2021, the two defendants filmed themselves driving through Jewish neighbourhoods loudly shouting antisemitic slurs and threats to passersby. In one of their videos, posted on social media, they explained they were going to Côte-St-Luc because “that’s where all the Jews are.” The incident resulted in the two individuals being charged with uttering threats and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. After evaluation by authorities, an additional charge of wilful promotion of hatred (section 319 (2) of the Criminal Code) was levied against the second defendant.
“This development is quite troubling,” said CIJA Quebec Vice President Eta Yudin. “Dropping this charge means the hateful intent behind the defendant’s actions won’t be acknowledged. Section 319 is there to ensure that perpetrators of hatred are held accountable.
“Targeting Jews or anyone for who they are, for how they identify is against the values of our society. Those who seek to foment or act on hate and antisemitism must face serious consequences. We hope that the sentencing will reflect the severity of his actions and include strong protections for our community,” said Yudin.
At the time of the incident, Federation CJA security was quick to act and coordinate with police who arrived rapidly on the scene and arrested both for uttering threats. Officers found both in possession of knives. The Montreal Police Service’s hate crime unit was tasked with the investigation. The first defendant had his day in court in December 2022, where he agreed to a Peace Bond with strict conditions in place to protect the Jewish community both in person and online.
“Perpetrators of hate must know that promoting antisemitism or any form of hatred will never be ok. That driving around armed and threatening the Jewish community is unacceptable. Federation CJA and the Community Security Network will continue to work with police forces to ensure the safety of our community. We look toward the justice system to send a clear message with the sentencing that there are real consequences to such actions,” said Federation CJA CEO Yair Szlak.
CIJA and Federation CJA will continue to follow this case closely and will attend the sentencing this spring.
- Press release: Clear Conditions to Protect Jewish Community Imposed Against an Individual Behind May 2021 Threats
- Statistics Canada police-reported hate crime data for 2021 revealed, once again, Jewish Canadians remain the most targeted religious minority for hate crime and second overall.
- There are ten times more hate crimes against Jews reported than any other religious group across the country.
- In Canada, according to Statistics Canada, more than one hate incident targeted Canada’s Jewish community every single day in 2021, on average. That’s more than nine per week or 40 per month.
About the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada. CIJA is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect Jewish life in Canada through advocacy and to advance the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community.
About Federation CJA
For over one hundred years, Federation CJA has been at the heart of the organized Jewish community in Montreal. In partnership with a vast network of agencies and organizations locally, nationally, and internationally, Federation CJA builds and sustains this community by providing leadership and by supporting the delivery of services and programs to care for the vulnerable and those in need, to ensure a bright Jewish future, to represent communal interests, and to positively affect issues in the wider society.
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