Canada launches panel to probe anti-Semitism

TORONTO (JTA) — Canada has established an all-party parliamentary commission to probe anti-Semitism.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism will be under the leadership of two members of Parliament, Conservative Scott Reid and Liberal Mario Silva. Eighteen other lawmakers from across party lines will sit on the body.

The commission will begin by accepting written submissions of up to 2,000 words from any individual or group no later than July 31. This will be followed by hearings in the fall to gather testimony, culminating in a final report by the spring of 2010.

"Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world on a scale not seen since World War II," said panel member Joyce Murray, a Vancouver-area member of Parliament, in a news release. She said the inquiry "will be an important tool in understanding the extent of the problem in Canada, and how to combat it."

The panel is an outgrowth of the London summit of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism held in February, to which Canada sent the largest delegation.

The summit issued the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism, which urged legislators around the world to "establish inquiry scrutiny panels that are tasked with determining the existing nature and state of anti-Semitism in their countries and developing recommendations for government and civil society action."

Anti-Semitism "is of great concern to all Canadians," said Silva, an openly gay Toronto-area lawmaker who believes the commission’s findings could be applied to other hate crimes.

He told xtra.ca, a gay Web site, "When you see communities under attack, you need to be more active, and it’s true that when somebody says today it’s the Jewish community, tomorrow it could be the gay and lesbian community. In fact, the gay and lesbian community has been attacked for many years."
 

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