Photo credit: Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives
It is our privilege to honour Keith Landy with a profile on CIJA Showcase. We are very grateful to him for everything he had done for the Jewish community and for Canada. See our statement on his passing here.
Born in Coventry, England, his family moved to South Africa, before immigrating to Canada. He acquired his degree from the Law School at the University of Windsor and is senior and founding partner in the Toronto law firm of Landy, Marr, Kats LLP.
A lifelong advocate for the Jewish community and for the human rights of all Canadians, Keith Landy has an extensive background in community service.
Serving as national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) from 2001 to 2004, Keith had previously held various positions at CJC including Chair of CJC Ontario Region. He served as a Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress and, in 2008, was named Chair of CJC’s War Crimes Committee. He was counsel for CJC at both the Somalia Inquiry and at the Supreme Court of Canada in Human Rights Commission v. Malcolm Ross and New Brunswick Teachers Federation. As Chair of CJC Ontario, Landy successfully lobbied for passage of the Holocaust Memorial Day – Yom Hashoah Act by the Ontario Legislature. He has also served as a delegate to the United Nations’ World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia in Durban, South Africa. In April 2004, he was a member of the official Canadian governmental delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on antisemitism.
In 2004 he was invited to become a Governor of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews (CCCJ). Keith has served on CIJA’s Toronto Council since 2015 and represents CIJA and the Canadian Jewish Holocaust and Survivors at the Conference on Jewish Material Claims.
Keith Landy was a recipient of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. In 2005, he received The Lincoln Alexander Award from the Law Society of Upper Canada honouring his commitment to public and community service and to the people of Ontario for his work for human rights and religious tolerance. Keith has been married to Janice for forty years. They have two children, Michelle and Josh, three grandchildren to spoil so far.
Interview with Keith Landy
On February 15th, 2017, our friend and colleague Len Rudner had a chance to interview Keith Landy at his home in Toronto. Len, who has a long history with CIJA, CJC, and Mr. Landy, asked a number of questions about Keith’s many contributions to Canada and the Canadian Jewish community. The answers in this interview have been edited for brevity.
Tell us how you got involved in Canada’s organized Jewish community.
I came to Canada when I was 19 years old. I became very active in the Jewish community working with Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) doing Israel Advocacy. I was introduced to CJC by Rose Wolfe; she brought me into Congress. My involvement was with Joint Community Relations Committee (JCRC), which was a combined organization of CJC and B’nai Brith. This was the first time the two organizations worked together to combat antisemitism.
As Chair of the CJC’s Ontario Community Relations Committee, you had to deal with many different issues. Which is the one that stands out most or of which you are most proud?
Representing the community gave me the most pride. At one point, the Jewish leadership was led by three South Africans: Lorraine Sandler (Federation), Lawrence Hart (B’nai Brith), and me. This was very unusual back then.
Before you moved to Canada, you lived in South Africa. What was it like to be a representative at the Durban Conference?
It was my first time back to South Africa since the Apartheid years. It was highly unusual and hard in a sense to see what life was like after 30 years. Durban was a hate-fest but until then it was a tremendous place of opportunity.
Being at Durban with CJC and B’nai Brith was an opportunity to put our differences aside and join the fight together on behalf of Jewish communities.
In 1998, you lobbied the Province of Ontario to pass the Holocaust Memorial Day Act. Do you remember when the act was passed?
This was an opportunity to offer something positive in the midst of what was going on in Canada. It was an opportunity to work with the Ontario Legislature to ensure Holocaust Memorial Day was recognized, and it led me to continue, in a sense, to work with Canadians to create something lasting and a legacy for Canada.
When CIJA was created, you were asked to represent CIJA and the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD) on the board of the Claims Conference. Why?
They had the confidence that I could help and bring a voice to the table due to my previous history of working with the Claims Conference as President of the CJC.
When at CJC, you worked on the Helmut Oberlander case. What are your thoughts on this?
This was the biggest disappointment for me and for Canada. Canada did not do what it should have done; they should have kicked him out.
You were honored by your legal peers with the Lincoln Alexander Award. What was it like to receive this award from your peers?
My Jewish community contributions were greater but both are equal in providing me a sense of accomplishment and pride.