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Study Shows 10% Canadians Believe Jews and Other Minorities Have Too Much Power

Ten percent of Canadians believe Jews and other minorities have too much power in Canadian society; a poll by the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada has revealed.

The survey, conducted for the League by the Conseil de Recherche sur l’Opinion Publique (CROP) on Canadian attitudes toward ethnic groups, is of particular significance during this election period in Canada as results indicate that voting behavior may be affected by the ethnicity of those running for office.

The analysis of the poll is one of three studies published in the League’s Review of Anti-Semitism in Canada 1983, a three-part examination of the nature of anti-Semitism and racism in Canada. In addition to the CROP survey the Review contains an examination of the Keegstra Affair — a specific occurrence of anti-Semitism in this country and an audit of incidents of anti-Semitism reported to the League in 1983.

The CROP poll, conducted in 1983 with a national sample of 2,000 respondents, examines Canadians’ attitudes towards Jews, Poles and Italians, three minority groups with comparable demographic, historical and socio-economic positions in Canada. Preliminary results suggest a strong link between the level of contact an individual has with members of ethnic groups and the tolerance they have toward them.

Designed by the League to collect data on the relationship between anti-Semitism and racism in Canada, the poll was first conducted by the League’s Research Project on Anti-Semitism centered at Concordia University and headed by Prof. Frank Chalk. Further results of the study will be published this fall as part of a new series of research papers to be called League for Human Rights Reports.

LESSONS OF THE KEEGSTRA AFFAIR

The article on James Keegstra, the Alberta teacher accused of instructing anti-Semitic theories to high school students in Eckville, Alberta, traces the development of the Keegstra affair from its origin in 1968 when he became interested in the rightwing Social Credit Party to the events in early 1983 when he was dismissed from his teaching position in Eckville. Keegstra blamed the “Zionists” for the decision.

Two months after his dismissal he was elected vice president of the Alberta section of the Social Credit Party. Under growing public criticism, he was suspended shortly afterwards. Nevertheless, he is now running for public office on the Social Credit Party ticket in Alberta. He had been mayor in Eckville from 1978 until the fall of 1983, when he was defeated.

Written by Alan Shefman, national director, field services of the League, the article focuses upon the lessons that have been learned from the Keegstra Affair. Shefman suggests that governments have learned the most from the events taking place in Alberta, as the issue of hate propaganda has once again become significant.

This is witnessed in the recent proposals by the federal government to strengthen the hate propaganda sections of the Criminal Code. The section on the Keegstra Affair is also a vivid illustration of the extent to which extreme manifestations of anti-Semitism still exist in Canada.

The audit of anti-Semitic incidents, which focuses on data reported to the League in Ontario and Quebec, (these provinces contain more than 80 percent of Jews in Canada) shows a decline from 63 incidents in 1982 to 48 in 1983. Despite the decline in the number of incidents, the data reveals an increase in the seriousness of the incidents, with 33 percent more acts of vandalism directed at Jewish institutions in 1983 than in 1982.

The potential encouragement over the decline in incidents is tempered by the fact that other anti-Jewish activities which are not reflected in the audit, appear to be on the rise. This includes the growth of racist groups in Canada and the proliferation of hate propaganda.

Finally, the decline over the two years, which corresponds to data collected by the League’s cooperating agency in the United States, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, may be due to a decline in media attention on Israel which was at a peak during the 1982 Lebanon crisis.

“The Review was first published in 1982 in response to requests from scholars, government agencies, Jewish leaders and organizations for data on incidents of anti-Semitism in Canada,” said Phil Leon, acting national chairman of the League. “This year’s Review examines the problem of anti-Semitism from three different perspectives. We hope that such an approach will provide a greater body of information on anti-Semitism and racism than currently exists. Only an understanding of the many aspects of the problem will help us solve it.”

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