The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

1995 Audit of
Anti-Semitic Incidents

Legal/Legislative Initiatives

In 1995 the League continued strong efforts to achieve passage of Bill C-41, which included amendments to the Criminal Code directing judges to take hate motivation into account during sentencing. The League was one of the few organizations selected to present its position verbally to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, and during the debate in the House, League research and statistics were cited by several speakers to strengthen their positions on the question of Bill C-41.

The League was also invited to make a presentation to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in the final stages of the deliberations on Bill C-41. It was immediately following this presentation that the Senator who chaired the Committee was angrily approached by a number of hostile observers in the meeting room. One of them actually threatened the League representatives, shouting "it's because you Jews are always pushing things that what happened in Europe happened. If you keep this up, it could happen here." Feedback from the Committee indicated that these comments helped to convince members even more of the need for the inclusive revisions to the law. Bill C-41 passed by both the House and the Senate in 1995.

Further to the astonishing revelations of white supremacist activity in the Armed Forces following the murder of a Somalian teenager by Canadian peacekeeping forces, as highlighted in last year's Audit, in 1995 the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces in Somalia was begun. B'nai Brith was granted full standing in the Inquiry, as an organization with expertise in hate and bias crime, hate group activity, human rights violations, and the psychological factors of racists and victims.

At the preliminary hearings in 1995, the League presented an overview of issues of harassment; conflict of interest in the chain of command when reporting through the ranks; assessment, selection and training; presence of racists in the Armed Forces; and the distinction between international humanitarian and human rights law. The League has since cross-examined several witnesses at the hearings and assisted in bringing out important points on the lack of investigation and relative indifference to racism and white supremacists in the First Airborne in conjunction with the deployment to Somalia.

The League had intervenor status in the Malcolm Ross case, which was heard in the Supreme Court in the fall of 1995. The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission appealed the New Brunswick Court of Appeal's overturning of the tribunal decision to remove Ross from the classroom on the basis of the poisoned environment created by his publishing and disseminating Holocaust denial material and other anti-Semitic and hateful propaganda. We eagerly await the Supreme Court decision on Ross.

The League was pleased to be granted leave to intervene in the pending Keegstra appeal, lest the Supreme Court re-open the issue of the constitutionality of the hate laws, which were upheld as constitutional in 1990. The Keegstra appeal will be heard early in 1996.


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