January 28, 2020
Press Release: Federation CJA and CIJA Deeply Troubled by Montreal Mayor’s Inaction on Antisemitism
Montreal, QC — Today, the Montreal municipal council was expected to vote on a motion calling on the city to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
The motion, introduced by Official Opposition Leader Lionel Perez, coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp on January 27. The debate was postponed last night to this morning.
During the debate, Mayor Valérie Plante proposed to refer the motion to the Commission de la présidence du conseil, suggesting that the City of Montreal should develop its own definition of antisemitism. Mr. Pérez rejected the proposal and withdrew the motion.
In response, Gail Adelson-Marcovitz, President of Federation CJA, and Reuben Poupko, Co-Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Québec (CIJA-Québec), issued the following:
“We are deeply disappointed that Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante did not support the adoption of the most widely-accepted definition of antisemitism, a tool endorsed by reputable international bodies and adopted by dozens of democratic countries, including Canada, to enhance the fight against resurgent antisemitism. Indeed, Canada and many other countries recently chose to restate their commitment to IHRA and its definition of antisemitism.
“The Mayor failed to seize the opportunity and show leadership on International Holocaust Remembrance Day to demonstrate that the City of Montreal is committed to combating antisemitism today, which is rapidly increasing around the world.
“The IHRA definition is the most widely accepted definition of contemporary antisemitism, carefully developed over two decades by experts on antisemitism in cooperation with dozens of liberal democracies. We commend Mr. Pérez for refusing to submit the internationally-sanctioned and widely adopted IHRA definition to a review and rewording by a municipal commission lacking expertise on the matter.
“In order to effectively combat resurgent Jew hatred, public authorities need a working definition that clearly identifies antisemitic incidents in their respective jurisdictions. We will continue to work with the municipal council and the City of Montreal to raise awareness about antisemitism in all its contemporary forms and the necessity to use the IHRA definition as a reference and educational tool.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, including Montreal’s Federation CJA.