Canadian parliamentary antisemitism inquiry hears first witnesses

    Canadian MP's hear testimony about global antisemitism from
    internationally respected experts

OTTAWA, Nov. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism opened a series of domestic hearings today with two panels of international parliamentarians and experts:

    Panel One:
    -   Rt. Hon. Dr. Denis MacShane
    -   Prof. Gert Weisskirchen

    Panel Two:
    -   Hon. Canadian MP, Irwin Cotler
    -   Dr. Charles Small Director
    -   Dr. Gregg Rickman

The purpose of the inquiry is to probe into the growing problem of antisemitism both domestically and internationally, and provide practical and uniquely Canadian recommendations as to how to combat it. "Most people think of antisemitism in terms of white supremacists and neo-Nazis; they infer it is a problem of the past, but unfortunately they are mistaken," said CPCCA Inquiry Panel Chair Mario Silva who noted: "Antisemitism has become an increasing problem especially in Europe, and we want to make sure that doesn't happen here."

The committee has invited witnesses with a variety of experiences and backgrounds; from the international experts who appear today, to the testimony of witnesses who have experienced antisemitism in Canada first hand. The Panel has also invited a number of non-governmental organizations which propose mechanisms that civil society can use to combat antisemitism.

"We want Canadians to learn from the experience of other countries that are fighting to eliminate antisemitism," said Inquiry Panel Vice-Chair Scott Reid. "The phenomenon seems once again to be on the rise, and this panel of international experts will help us to determine to what extent Canada is in danger of experiencing the same thing."

In an effort to better understand the phenomenon of campus antisemitism in Canada the Presidents of twenty five major Canadian Universities have been invited to testify before the Inquiry Panel on the 24th of November. "We are very pleased that Ryerson University President Dr. Sheldon Levy, former President of Concordia Fred Lowy and Université de Montréal President Luc Vinet have agreed to appear before us," said Silva. "We hope that the Presidents will help us in understanding the issue and devising practical solutions."

The committee has invited over forty individuals and organizations to appear before them during their hearings in November and December, and has received more than 150 written submissions. For an updated list of witnesses, dates and locations of hearings visit the Coalition's website at


In February 2009, parliamentarians from around the world gathered in London for the inaugural conference of the Inter-parliamentary Committee for Combating Antisemitism. The conference brought together over 125 legislators from nearly 40 countries for two days of presentations and discussions on the increasing problem of antisemitism. The conference produced a resolution "The London Declaration for Combating Antisemitism" calling on all governments to face the problem of antisemitism, especially its manifestations in the media and academia. Under the leadership of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, and International Steering Committee Chair Professor Irwin Cotler, a delegation of 11 Canadian Members of Parliament attended the conference in London. They returned with the desire to form a Canadian coalition to fight antisemitism here.

Antisemitism is not a new problem; however recorded incidents of antisemitism have been on the rise internationally. Furthermore, the problem is now being manifested in ways never experienced before. While accusations of blood libel or petty vandalism are still issues for the Jewish community, new fears have arisen especially for those who support the State of Israel. For example, on some university campuses, Jewish students are being threatened and intimidated to the point that they are not able to express pro-Israel sentiments freely, or are even fearful to wear a Jewish skull cap or Jewish star of David around their necks. Antisemitism represents a break from Canadian values, which promote the rights of all individuals to practice their religion, educate themselves, and express themselves with security and freedom.

The CPCCA (Canadian Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism) was formed in March of 2009 and brings together 22 Parliamentarians from all parties in the House of Commons for the stated purpose of confronting and combating antisemitism in Canada today. The group is broken into two committees: the Inquiry Panel (chaired by MP Mario Silva) and the Steering Committee (chaired by MP Scott Reid).

The Inquiry was launched on June 2nd, with an open call for written submissions by the Canadian public. After receiving nearly 200 written submissions, the committee will begin its public hearings starting on the 2nd of November. At the conclusion of the hearings, the committee will produce a report to the Government of Canada, and anticipates that the Government will respond to this report no later than the fall of 2010.

The CPCCA is not affiliated with the Government of Canada, any NGO, or any advocacy group. It is associated with the Inter-parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, the international steering committee which organized the conference in London in 2009.

    Mandate of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition for Combating


The CPCCA is a coalition of concerned parliamentarians aiming to confront and combat the global resurgence of Antisemitism. It recognizes that Antisemitism by its nature is fundamentally opposed to the multicultural identity of Canada and to the Canadian values of Human Rights and Human Dignity. It harnesses the goodwill of parliamentarians in all parties, in both Houses of the Parliament of Canada, in the struggle against this oldest and most enduring of hatreds.


The CPCCA is an all-party Parliamentary group which will remain independent of both the Government of Canada and NGOs or Advocacy Groups. Committee membership is restricted to current Members of Parliament. It aims to undertake two primary objectives:

    1.  To conduct an Inquiry into Antisemitism in Canada, with the following
        as its terms of reference:

        -  To identify and define the nature of Antisemitism in Canada today.
        -  To analyze, as far as evidence allows, the extent of the problem.
        -  To make practical recommendations as to how the problem can be

        As such, the committee will independently review evidence, hear
        witnesses, and attend briefings from a variety of sources. It will
        then publish a report based on its findings and present it to the
        Government of Canada for response.

    2.  If asked, to coordinate and host the Second Annual Inter-
        parliamentary Conference to Combat Antisemitism to be held in Canada
        in 2010. The conference will gather parliamentarians from around the
        world interested in fighting Antisemitism. It will focus on
        Antisemitism as a modern issue and will build upon the foundations
        and recommendations of the February 2009 London Declaration passed at
        the first conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition to Combat

    CPCCA Inquiry Panel Hearings

    Hearing 2: Monday, November 16th 2009 (11:00 am - 2:00 pm, room 269 West

    Hearing 3: Monday, November 23rd 11:00 am - 2:00 pm (room 269 West Block)

    Hearing 4: Tuesday, November 24th 8:00 am - 11:00 am (room 863, 131 Queen

    Hearing 5: Monday, November 30th 11:00 am - 2:00 pm (room 269 West Block)

    Hearing 6: Tuesday, December 1st 8:00 am - 11:00 am (room 214 Wellington

    Hearing 7: Monday, December 7th 11:00 am - 2:00 pm (room 269 West Block)

    Hearing 8: Tuesday, December 8th 8:00 am-11: 00 am (room 863, 131 Queen


For further information: For further information: Mario Silva, MP, (613) 992-2576,,

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