Combating Antisemitism Act Passes Second Reading

Published on February 27, 2020

QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Will Bouma (Brantford-Brant) and MPP Robin Martin (Eglinton—Lawrence) co-sponsored a Private Members Bill to address the rise of antisemitism in Ontario. Bill 168 entitled Combating Antisemitism Act, 2020 passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature today.

 “The Jewish community remains the most frequently targeted group when it comes to hate crimes in Canada, with an incident taking place roughly every 24 hours, this is completely unacceptable.” Brantford-Brant, MPP Will Bouma said. “By unifying the government to be guided by the IHRA working definition, this bill will permit a whole-of-government response to the scourge that is Antisemitism.”

In December of 2018, Statistics Canada reported that the number of hate crimes reported to police jumped by 47% in 2017 from the previous year, targeting mostly Muslim, Jewish or black people. Hate crimes against Jews rose 63%.

Bill 168 requires the Government of Ontario to be guided by the working definition of antisemitism and the list of illustrative examples of it, adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance plenary on May 26, 2016, when it interprets Acts, regulations and policies designed to protect Ontarians from discrimination and hate amounting to antisemitism.

“I am proud to co-sponsor the Combating Antisemitism Act, and to stand with Ontario’s Jewish community on this important issue,” said Robin Martin, MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence. “Enshrining the IHRA definition of antisemitism in law is a critical part of Ontario’s whole-of-government approach to combatting all forms of hatred and intolerance.”

The Private Members Bill garnered support from organizations such as CIJA, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, B’nai Brith of Canada, League for Human Rights and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

"The passing of Bill 168 at second reading comes at a crucial time for Jewish Ontarians. Our community continues to be disproportionately targeted with hate by a broad spectrum of individuals and groups.  Moving this important initiative forward demonstrates that our legislators stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish community in confronting this insidious threat. We applaud MPPs Will Bouma and Robin Martin for their leadership and support.”  -- Noah Shack, Vice President, GTA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

“B’nai Brith Canada wholeheartedly supports Bill 168 and the adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism by the Province of Ontario and extends its gracious thanks to MPPs Will Bouma and Robin Martin for bringing this important bill forward. This is a milestone event. It would make Ontario the first province in Canada to adopt the world’s most expert and consensus-driven definition of antisemitism which has been adopted or endorsed by 24 governments and jurisdictions, globally, as well as the Secretary General of the OAS (Organization of American States). Only by defining antisemitism in its modern context can we collectively take the steps necessary to identify, prevent, and combat the phenomenon wherever it arises.” -- Michael Mostyn, CEO B'nai Brith Canada

“Antisemitic incidences and hate crimes have been growing in Canada at an alarming rate. It is critical that governments at all levels take an active approach to combating hatred towards the Jewish community. But hatred towards Jews can not be effectively addressed unless we can agree on what does, and what does not, constitute antisemitism.” --  Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

Bill 168 passed second reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy for review.