The year 2017 was record-breaking for anti-Semitism in Canada, according to a recent audit by the League for Human Rights — B’nai Brith Canada.
The audit found that incidents of vandalism more than doubled across the country.
Quebec now has the dubious distinction of ranking second in Canada for the number of reported anti-Semitic acts.
“Today we have a skin-head graffiti with a swastika attached where the dot on top of the ‘i’ goes,” Erasing Hate founder Corey Fleischer told Global News as he was removing paint from a Laval building.
What started as an addictive hobby for the Montreal man has turned into a worldwide movement of people spotting, reporting and removing hate speech in the form of graffiti.
“With social media we have tens and tens of thousands of people here in Montreal and all over the world reporting hate every single day,” Fleischer said.
“I wake up to many messages every morning.”
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Experts estimate that only 10 per cent of incidents are reported to authorities. Still, Quebec was home to 474 incidents of harassment and vandalism in 2017, which represents 27 per cent of all anti-Semitic incidents in Canada.
“This was a whopping year for Quebec and anti-Semitic incidents,” B’nai Brith’s Quebec’s regional director Harvey Levine said.
“We’re over the top again and certainly the highest number ever recorded in the 36 years of doing the audit.”
According to B’nai Brith Canada’s Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2017, Ontario is ranked the No. 1 region in Canada with a total of 808 reported incidents.
The majority of violent incidents reported across the country took place in Ontario, specifically 13 out of 16. Alberta is third on the list with 206 incidents.
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There were no reported incidents of violence in Quebec or Alberta, but the audit found that incidents of vandalism from coast to coast more than doubled from 2016 to 2017.
Local equal-rights advocates are calling for more police training, especially in areas outside city centres.
“Our concern is a lot of municipalities in this country or right here in Quebec don’t have a policy, don’t have the training, don’t have the tools to respond effectively to a report of an anti-Semitic act,” Fo Niemi, the director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, said.
B’nai Brith has eight recommendations to tackle anti-Semitism
- Institute dedicated hate crime units in every major city
- Provide enhanced training for hate crimes officers
- Publish the attorney-general’s guidelines for sections 318 and 319
- Develop an action plan to counter hate online
- Declare a zero-tolerance approach to government funding of anti-Semitism
- Introduce anti-slapp legislation in all provinces
- Hold universities accountable for campus anti-Semitism
- Adopt a national action plan for anti-Semitism
At Tuesday’s news conference to unveil the audit, B’nai Brith representatives established that increasing education may very well be the most effective way to put a stop to anti-Semitic activity.
It’s a solution that the man behind Erasing Hate couldn’t agree with more.
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He regularly tours elementary and high schools to raise awareness and is currently gearing up for his first TedxLaval on May 23 as part of his mission to silence hate speech.
“The only way in order to change the future and to change what’s go on is through education,” Fleischer said.