The Hon. Lynne Yelich, Canada’s minister of state (foreign affairs and consular), right, with two fellow panelists, moderator Melissa Eddy, New York Times correspondent in Berlin, and Miroslav Lajcák, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign and European affairs, Slovak Republic. (photo from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada)
On Nov. 13, the Hon. Lynne Yelich, Canada’s minister of state (foreign affairs and consular), concluded her participation at the High-Level Commemorative Event and Civil Society Forum on the 10th Anniversary of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE’s) Berlin Conference on Antisemitism.
The Berlin Declaration was proclaimed 10 years ago; it spelled out a series of commitments for OSCE member states, including Canada. Canada is deeply engaged in the fight against antisemitism, both at home and abroad, and remains committed to enhancing Holocaust education, remembrance and research.
Yelich participated in a panel that reviewed efforts over the past 10 years in addressing antisemitism throughout the OSCE. The panel analyzed ways that member states can counter contemporary antisemitism and discussed recommendations put forward by civil society groups.
Yelich reiterated that Canada encourages all states to take a similar, zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism. “As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Declaration on antisemitism, we must acknowledge that antisemitism continues to be a sad reality,” she said.
The complete address delivered by Yelich at the conference, as it was written, follows:
It is both a pleasure and a privilege to represent Canada at this important event in Berlin today and to reflect upon what has been achieved in fighting antisemitism throughout the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe over the past 10 years.
As a matter of priority and principle, Canada supports efforts to combat all forms of racism and discrimination. However, the Government of Canada understands that hatred can manifest itself in specific ways requiring specific responses.
We recognize that antisemitism constitutes a unique form of racism, whose extreme manifestations have led to some of the darkest hours in the history of mankind. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, antisemitism is “a pernicious evil that must be exposed, confronted and repudiated whenever and wherever it appears, an evil so profound that it is ultimately a threat to us all.”
As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Declaration on antisemitism, we must acknowledge that antisemitism continues to be a sad reality.
Our Nationally Standardized Data Collection Strategy on Hate-Motivated Crime indicates that Jews are the most likely religious group to be targeted for hate crimes, even though Jews constitute less than one percent of the Canadian population.
Too often, not enough is done to ensure our societies, and especially our younger generations, remember the lessons of the Holocaust.
On April 23, 2013, the Government of Canada announced that a site had been selected in our capital city of Ottawa to build Canada’s National Holocaust Monument. This monument, to be inaugurated in fall 2015, will encourage people to reflect upon the events of the Holocaust, remember the victims and pay tribute to the survivors. It will also encourage people to reflect on the responsibilities each of us has to protect human rights and dignity.
In the same spirit of education, reflection and prevention, the recently opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Man., houses a permanent exhibition devoted to the Holocaust.
With respect to law enforcement and protection, the Canadian government continues to develop its systems for collecting data on hate crime. Combined with law enforcement training, these systems allow the authorities to better address violence against groups at risk, including the Jewish community.
In this context, to help protect communities against hate-motivated crimes, we created a program called Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program. Renewed in February 2013, this program allows not-for-profit organizations to apply for funding to allay the costs of security infrastructure improvements for places of worship and community centres vulnerable to hate-motivated crime.
Canada is also at the forefront of the fight against antisemitism on the international stage.
In November 2010, Canada hosted the second Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism Conference. Parliamentarians from around the world came together to develop mechanisms to combat antisemitism and address antisemitic propaganda in the media and on the Internet.
By unanimous consent, parliamentarians issued the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism, which seeks commitments from governments to collect and report data on hate crimes, including antisemitism; to monitor and share best practices; to propose a common working definition of antisemitism; and to engage further with the United Nations on this issue.
Through our Office of Religious Freedom, established within Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and headed by Andrew Bennett, Canada works internationally to combat antisemitism and other forms of intolerance on the basis of religion or belief, including by supporting projects implemented by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
The Government of Canada also recognizes the scourge of the “new” antisemitism. This sometimes-violent movement, which often portrays itself as anti-Zionism, rejects the right of the Jewish people to a homeland. We made our stand clear when Canada – the first country to do so – decided to withdraw from the United Nations Durban Review Conference because of profound concerns about the manifestations of antisemitism that had marred the first Durban Conference, as well as the participation of such overtly antisemitic regimes as Iran in the planning of the review conference.
As we collectively seek ways to improve our response to antisemitism, Canada encourages all states to take a similar, zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism. This can include supporting the principles of the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism and the Ottawa Protocol; further developing data collection systems on hate crimes; and fully implementing the provisions of the 2004 OSCE Berlin Declaration on antisemitism.