Can you imagine how different Canada would be without the contribution of our community?
Reflecting on Canada’s 150th anniversary, I am struck by just how much Jewish Canadians have achieved, individually and collectively.
Since Aaron Hart, the first Jewish Canadian, came here more than 250 years ago, Jews have often led the way in building a better, more inclusive Canada for all.
Aaron’s son, Ezekiel Hart, became the first Jewish Canadian elected to political office, prompting Quebec to become the first place in the British Empire to extend full political rights to Jews – 26 years before Great Britain.
Over the course of Canada’s history, Jewish Canadians have left an indelible mark in fighting discrimination and advancing social justice. We have led the way in building the vibrant, diverse mosaic that is now a defining feature of this great country.
I am proud that CIJA strives to contribute to this important legacy, as our achievements on Parliament Hill this past session demonstrate.
CIJA was at the forefront of pushing for equal protections from hate and discrimination for Transgender Canadians, which became law with the passage of Bill C-16.
CIJA was also a driving force in urging MPs and Senators to ban discrimination based on genetic information, which became law with the passage of Bill S-201.
CIJA spearheaded a multi-faith coalition to support Bill C-305, which increases penalties for hate crimes targeting community centres and schools. This bill, which has won unanimous support, faces one final vote in the Senate before it will become law.
We were also successful in calling for the expansion of the federal Security Infrastructure Program. The doubling of funds available and the broadening of security measures covered will help at-risk communities better protect their places of worship, community centres, and schools.
We could not have reached these milestones, and many others, without the support of our active and engaged community. These are your achievements.
Whether you participated in a CIJA lobby day on Parliament Hill, or joined more than 55,000 Canadians in taking action through CIJA’s online platforms, I thank you.
You should feel tremendous pride in what we have been able to achieve together on Parliament Hill this year.
I hope we can continue to count on you to take action when Parliament resumes in the fall.
In the meantime, please click here to share this video of our collective success with others on Facebook, and encourage your friends to join you in becoming active in Canadian Jewish advocacy.
My very best wishes for a pleasant summer.
David J. Cape
Chair, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs