Jewish Canadians ‘on high alert’ amid rising antisemitism, Gould says

Click to play video: 'Minister Gould says she feels ‘deep sadness’ over recent antisemitic attacks in Montreal'
Minister Gould says she feels ‘deep sadness’ over recent antisemitic attacks in Montreal
Protests and demonstrations have erupted across Canada since the start of Israel-Hamas conflict in October, many of which have been peaceful. But officials have become concerned about a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in light of recent escalations, including attacks on a Montreal synagogue and two Jewish schools, as well as a violent clash on Concordia University’s campus. ‘The West Block’ host Mercedes Stephenson speaks with Government House Leader Karina Gould on what help the feds are providing to ensure communities feel safer, potential consequences for violent hate attacks, her concerns as a Jewish woman, and more – Nov 12, 2023

The Israel-Hamas conflict has contributed to a rise in acts of antisemitism and Islamophobia across Canada, and the effects are hitting home with Government House Leader Karina Gould.

In an interview on The West Block, host Mercedes Stephenson asked Gould how the global rise of antisemitism is affecting her, not as an MP or cabinet minister but as a Jewish woman.

“I think the very first thing that I feel is just incredible sadness. You know, speaking with friends and colleagues and folks around the country, I think a lot of people, particularly Jewish people right now, are feeling very worried here in Canada,” Gould replied.

“I think there’s a there’s a recognition, there’s a lot of hurt and there’s a lot of pain coming out of what’s happening in the Middle East … whether you’re Jewish or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian there’s a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety.”

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Click to play video: 'Montreal-area synagogue target of firebomb attack'
Montreal-area synagogue target of firebomb attack

There have been a number of high-profile, and sometimes violent, acts of antisemitism and political violence making headlines in Canada over the past week.

This includes two firebombings at Montreal synagogues late Monday night and early Tuesday morning, and two Jewish schools in that city being shot at overnight on Wednesday. No one was injured in either incident and police are investigating.

Also on Wednesday, three people were injured and a 22-year-old woman was arrested, according to Montreal police, after a violent clash broke out between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrators over the conflict in the Middle East at Concordia University.

In Toronto, Indigo’s flagship location was vandalized on Friday morning with red paint and posters accusing the company’s Jewish founder of “funding genocide.”

Click to play video: 'Indigo bookstore vandalized with red paint, posters accusing Jewish founder of ‘funding genocide’'
Indigo bookstore vandalized with red paint, posters accusing Jewish founder of ‘funding genocide’

Gould says the situation has left her and others feeling that the nature of antisemitism in Canada has changed and threats to the Jewish community have increased.

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“This is a very scary time for a lot of people. I think the community is resilient in many ways, but certainly people are on high alert,” she told Stephenson.

“We’ve seen a huge rise in antisemitism. We’ve seen a huge rise in Islamophobia as well. And both of those things are in many ways two sides of the same coin,” she added.

“People are hurting a lot. But I think it’s also incumbent upon folks to not look at their neighbour and see anything but a Canadian right now.”

Gould pointed to an extra $5 million that was announced earlier in the week to enhance the security infrastructure program for faith groups to install things like security cameras and alarm systems at places of worship and community centres as a means of the government monitoring these threats.

“I think we need to take these threats very seriously to make sure that we don’t see an escalation where someone, God forbid, gets hurt or even killed here in Canada,” Gould said.

“I think particularly what we saw awfully in the last week in Montreal has put that at the forefront, that we need to take these threats very seriously to the Jewish community and to communities right across the country.”

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