October 13, 2021
Ottawa, Ontario — Today, while attending the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada will be making permanent the role of the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Trudeau referenced intolerance coming from the far right and far left and reiterated Canada’s commitment to combating antisemitism at home, including the expansion of education materials, online harm legislation, and support for the International Holocaust Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
The Honourable Irwin Cotler currently serves as the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and its Jewish Federation partners have been advocating for this role to be made permanent for several years. Along with the Prime Minister, Ambassador Stéphane Dion, and Special Envoy Irwin Cotler, Richard Marceau, CIJA’s Vice-President External Affairs’ and General Counsel attended the International Forum as a part of the Canadian delegation.
In response to the announcement, Shimon Koffler Fogel, CIJA President and CEO issued the following:
“Today represents a milestone for the Jewish community and Jewish Federations across Canada who have been advocating for making the role of Special Envoy permanent, with dedicated resources. We are pleased to see that the government has heeded our advice, and we thank them for being our allies in the fight against the scourge of antisemitism and for their continuous and unambiguous support for the IHRA definition of antisemitism, an important tool to combat Jew-hatred.”
Joel Reitman, National Co-Chair of the CIJA Board of Directors, added:
“This is a positive development in the struggle against antisemitism. It accompanies the Government’s commitment to fighting hate and intolerance and sets the tone for combating Jew–hatred for years to come. Having the position of Special Envoy and appropriate resources to support it entrenched in the Ministry of Heritage demonstrates that the government’s new mandate includes a renewed commitment to combating antisemitism.”
- CIJA Public Policy Priority backgrounder
- CIJA Policy Brief: Defining Antisemitism and the IHRA definition
- The IHRA working definition is the most widely accepted definition of antisemitism in the world, having been adopted by dozens of democratic countries. In 2019, it was adopted by the Government of Canada as part of its new anti-racism strategy. It has also been adopted by provincial governments of Ontario and New Brunswick, and in 24 cities across Ontario and Quebec.
- Statistics Canada data consistently confirms that the Jewish community is the most frequently targeted religious minority when it comes to hate crime. In 2019, Statistics Canada reported 296 hate crimes targeting the Jewish community.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA