Ensuring Equality in Canadian Society
Jewish Canadians have a proud tradition of standing up for religious freedom and against hate-motivated crime and discrimination.

Key Points

  • Jewish Canadians have a proud tradition of standing up for religious freedom and against hate-motivated crime and discrimination.
  • Explicit reference of vulnerable, identifiable groups in the Criminal Code increases the likelihood that police or crown attorneys will correctly identify a criminal act as hate- or bias-motivated.
  • The Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code should be amended to recognize and penalize hate crimes targeting transgendered Canadians, protecting them in the same way as other vulnerable groups identified by religion, race or sexual orientation.
  • We encourage parliamentarians to support Bill C-16: An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
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The Jewish community has long been a leading advocate for equality in Canadian society, encompassing the particular needs of our own community and extending to support other vulnerable groups facing similar challenges. We have a proud tradition of standing up for religious freedom and against hate-motivated crime and discrimination. Our community has long been at the forefront of efforts to secure these principles in law for the benefit of all Canadians.

In June 2013, the Quebec Soccer Federation announced a requirement for Sikh players to remove religious headgear during league-sanctioned games. In recognition of the Jewish community’s historic
 experience with religious restrictions, and reflecting the need to speak up when freedom of religion faces unwarranted constriction, CIJA intervened with the Quebec Soccer Federation, the Quebec and federal Ministers of Sport and FIFA, calling for a reversal of the decision.

This episode had implications reaching far beyond the relatively small segment directly affected, bringing forward the issue of what constitutes “reasonable accommodation” of religious practices. From the Jewish community’s perspective, it marked an opportunity to raise our communal voice on an issue with which we have traditionally been engaged.

In further expression of this commitment to human rights advocacy, CIJA also endorsed Private Member’s Bill C-279: An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Gender Identity) in the previous session of parliament. This bill would have provided members of the transgendered community enhanced legal protection equal to that received by other groups, such as the Jewish community, victimized by hate crimes and violence.

Past experience demonstrates that explicit reference in the Criminal Code increases the likelihood that police or crown attorneys will correctly identify a criminal act as hate- or bias-motivated. Our community understands this dynamic all too well, and CIJA continues to advocate for amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to recognize and penalize hate crimes targeting transgendered Canadians, protecting them in the same way as other vulnerable groups identified by religion, race or sexual orientation.

In this regard, we encourage parliamentarians to support Bill C-16: An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

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