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Canadian Rights League Finds Highest Anti-semitism Ever

February 14, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada has reached its highest level in the nine years since figures were tabulated, according to the Quebec branch of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.

At a news conference called here to disclose the findings of its 1990 audit of anti-Semitic incidents, the league reported a total of 210 such acts, up from 176 last year — a 19 percent increase.

A news conference was held simultaneously in Toronto, where racist groups have been more active of late.

The report takes into account acts against individuals or institutions, including harassment, hate propaganda and vandalism of a racial nature, which are reported to the league, which is affiliated with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in the United States.

Acts of harassment were dramatically higher, up from 113 in 1989 to 150 in 1990, an increase of 33 percent. Acts of vandalism actually decreased, from 63 the previous year to 60 last year. But overall, the statistics have tripled since 1987, when there were 55 anti-Semitic incidents.

Regionally, Toronto experienced the highest incidence of anti-Semitic acts, 78 cases, of which 67 percent constituted harassment. There were 28 cases of anti-Semitic acts recorded in the rest of Ontario.

Montreal was tied with British Columbia for the second-highest rate of anti-Semitic acts, 34 such incidents.

The audit refers to “two disturbing trends”: that 1990 represents the third straight year of increased incidents and that anti-Semitic acts have dramatically risen in severity.

The league’s report theorizes that increases in anti-Semitic acts may have been affected by 1990 having been a year of social, political and economic upheaval both nationally and internationally.


Moreover, it was noted, in 1990 there was still confusion about the interpretation of the “hate propaganda” section of Canada’s Criminal Code. Canada’s high court did not uphold the validity of the anti-hate law until December 1990, by which time most of the anti-Semitic incidents had occurred.

At the Montreal conference, the league’s Quebec branch president, Concordia University Professor Stephen Scheinberg, said he believed the increase in incidents does not portend a dangerous alignment of neo-Nazi or white supremacist groups in Canada.

“To my mind, the majority of incidents are confined to marginal racist groups among the population,” he said. “But these groups are also getting better organized all the time, and we have to remain vigilant.”

He singled out several of the incidents, including cemetery desecrations in Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City over a six-week period last spring, and assaults on Hasidic Jews in Montreal’s Outremont suburb last October as among the major incidents affecting Jews locally.

Scheinberg said anti-Semitism in Canada during the 1930s and 1940s may have been much worse than today, but was not reported.

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