Canada's hate laws don't speak equally for all Canadians

Special to Shunpiking Online

"At any time in the past, the federal government could have passed a [sweeping anti-racism] resolution in the wake of an anti-Sikh, anti- African or anti-Arab hate crime, but in Canada, offences against Jews are deemed more important and newsworthy."


(30 April 2004) -- On April 5, the United Talmud Torah elementary school in Montreal was firebombed. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Shortly after the event, Jewish leaders met with Prime Minister Paul Martin and demanded action against "anti-Semitism." They got it " -- a multi-million-dollar, multi- year federal anti-racism plan. As expected, the B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress expressed their approval.

In the Globe and Mail, Canada's only credible national newspaper, the firebombing earned a banner headline; the story and picture covered the entire front page above the fold, and then some. Martin even solemnly intoned, "This is not our Canada."

The key point here is the implicit equation of "anti-Semitism" with [anti-]racism. Sadly, this is our Canada, and nowhere is this fact made more obvious than in the utterances of Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, Israel's de facto agent in Cabinet. In a speech made six days before the firebombing, he said:

"Hate crime against any identifiable group constitutes an assault on the inherent integrity and worth of the human person. It constitutes an assault on the equal dignity of all persons. It constitutes an assault on the rights of minorities and ... the fragility of our multicultural democracy. In the House of Commons, we recently passed a unanimous resolution condemning anti-Semitism. And I stated on behalf of the Government that we will not be silent: we will bring the requisite moral, political, and juridical leadership to bear to combat hate crimes."

Note the conspicuous moral "sandwich" "hate crime" = "anti-Semitism" = "hate crime." At any time in the past, the federal government could have passed a resolution in the wake of an anti-Sikh, anti-African or anti-Arab hate crime, but in Canada, offences against Jews are deemed more important and newsworthy.

In March, vandals entered the Al-Mahdi Mosque in Pickering Ontario, sprayed "Jesus Rules" on the walls, broke tables and chairs, and set fire to it. Since September 2001, CAIR-CAN has documented hate activity against 15 Islamic institutions and mosques, including attempted arson, destruction and defacement of mosque property, as well as threatening graffiti. Attacks such as the one in Pickering reinforce community fear and anxiety because mosques are not simply places of worship, but also social and community centres [as are synagogues, temples, and churches... Editor].

Is this our Canada? Apparently so, since the government did not deem this attack to be worthy of comment. As Trent University Professor Michael Neumann noted, crimes against Jewish targets get front-page treatment, but attacks against Arabs and Muslims are often given summary treatment and buried on the inside pages, if they are reported at all. It seems that equal respect for the suffering of Muslims and Jews would embarrass the pro-Israel lobbyists.

Disseminating hate propaganda and advocating genocide entered the Criminal Code in the mid-1960s following the recommendations of the Cohen Commission. At the time, groups like the Natural Order Party and the Canadian Nazi Party were growing, so the measures seemed reasonable. And several defences for legitimate expression were also included, in order to prevent malicious prosecution.

However, these guarantees are coming under attack. In mid-March, B'nai Brith Canada came out with an audit of "anti-Semitic" incidents and recommended that the government no longer allow truth to be a defence against the charge of promoting hate.

So, anyone who says, for example, that Israel is illegitimate and practises genocide toward Palestinians can be charged, even though both these statements are demonstrably true. The same goes for anyone who decries the pervasive Zionist influence on government policy or the media. When an interest group exploits the law instrumentally to define what is right, we no longer live in a free society, and this brings me back to the firebombing.

As far as trigger mechanisms go, it was insignificant; in fact, there is no evidence to suggest that it justified a nationwide anti-racism program. But while Canada's Jewish community has powerful lobby groups to protect it, those same groups may be partly responsible for exposing it to violence. Thus, Cotler's fraudulent equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Jewishness breeds the very "anti-Semitism" he purports to abhor. Of course, fomenting "anti-Semitism" and exaggerating anti-Jewish activity reinforces the image of Jewish suffering, which in turn makes anti-racism campaigns useful tools with which to indoctrinate us with the Zionist version of reality.

Hate-crime legislation has been a failure because hate is not defined and because the law is not applied equally. For the sake of our freedoms, these sections of the Criminal Code should be repealed until such time as the law can speak for all Canadians.

* Greg Felton is a regular contributor to Shunpiking Online and will be a panelist at the forthcoming Halifax International Symposium on media and Disinformation. He is an award-winning investigative reporter and columnist on Middle East affairs from British Columbia. He writes a media column for the monthly Arabic/English newspaper al-Shorouq, contributes to, and is the author of the upcoming book Enemies of Necessity, an examination of how anti-Arab/anti-Muslim propaganda drives U.S. Middle East policy. He may be reached at:

Comments to : Copyright 2004 New Media Services Inc. The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of shunpiking magazine or New Media Publications. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. Copyright of written and photographic and art work remains with the creators.