Special envoy on combatting antisemitism will be permanent role, Trudeau says

Canada’s special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combatting antisemitism is now a permanent role, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.

Trudeau made the remarks at an international forum on Holocaust remembrance and combatting antisemitism in Malmo, Sweden.

In November 2020, the government appointed Irwin Cotler, an international human rights lawyer and former minister of justice, to the role. Now, Trudeau said, Cotler’s office will be supported by dedicated resources.

“This is in line with Canada’s commitment to promote and defend pluralism, inclusion and human rights,” Trudeau said.

“Education and awareness will always be key to combatting Holocaust distortion, antisemitism and all other forms of racism.”

It’s the special envoy’s job to “work with the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of diversity and inclusion and youth and other implicated ministers to inform Government of Canada policy and programming,” according to the federal government.

Trudeau also highlighted actions taken by his government on Holocaust remembrance and fighting antisemitism, including convening a national summit on antisemitism in Canada and adopting the working definition of antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities,” the definition reads.

Trudeau spoke about fighting hate online — an effort Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, highlighted as being a priority for the European Union.

Trudeau said his government will work on a national plan to combat hate, calling antisemitism a “canary in the coal mine of evil.”

“Antisemitism isn’t a problem for the Jewish community to solve alone — it’s everyone’s challenge to take on, especially governments,” he said.

“And that’s why we’ll develop and implement a national action plan on combatting hate, working in concert with Jewish communities and our special envoy.”

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