MONTREAL (May. 24)
Attorney-General Leon Casgrain of the province of Quebec today assured a Jewish delegation that the people of Quebec, irrespective of their racial or religious affiliations, are aroused at the attempt by vandals, last sunday, to set afire the new synagogue in Quebec City a few hours before its dedication.
“Neither the civil nor the religious authorities can countenance such acts, and as soon as the guilty parties are apprehended, they will be prosecuted according to the law,” the Attorney-General said. “This province is one where freedom of religion exists in its complete form. Therefore acts such as occurred here Sunday are condemned by all citizens who have respect for the rights of all minorities who respect the laws of the province,” The police are investigating the case and police officers will continue to guard the synagogue building, he informed the delegation.
The influential Montreal Star, labelling the incident as obvious arson, writes, Incidents of this kind have a Nazi odor about them, and it is regrettable that they should occur in a province like Quebec where freedom of religion is not only an honored tradition but a hard won right. All right-thinking persons in the province, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish, will deplore the incident and extend sympathy to the congregation who have so persistently and valiantly asserted a right accruing to them by virtue of the very fact that they are Canadians.”
The Rev. Dr. C. E. Silcox, director of the Canadian Conference of Christians and Jews, declared that the incident “gives additional proof that Hitler has too many disciples right here in Canada.” He expressed the hope that Cardinal Villeneuve, head of the Catholic Church in the province of Quebec, would issue a forceful denunciation of anti-Semitic activities. “The act of vandalism against the synagogue is the logical sequence of the ‘achat-chez-nous’ movement (which urged a boycott of Jewish shops), the bitter anti-Semitic propaganda before the war and the un-Christian petitions circulated by French Canadian organizations against allowing any Jewish refugees to enter Canada,” Dr. Silcox said.
It was announced today that Congregation Beth Israel Ohev Sholem, which built the synagogue, has raised an additional $42,000 to repair the extensive damages resulting from the fire. The construction of the synagogue had been fought by Quebec municipal authorities and anti-Semitic groups since it was first projected in 1932. Permission to erect the structure was obtained only after a protracted court battle.