Canada should say no to racism at the United Nations (20th anniversary of Durban Conference)

The legacy of Durban… Would be nice if there would be greater focus on China’s treatment of its religious and other minorities:

By bringing together all nations — democratic and non-democratic alike — the United Nations provides opportunities for both: For states that respect human rights, the UN can provide a forum for promoting that respect, while for states that violate them, the UN becomes a forum in which to defend, divert, and obfuscate.

One diversion tactic the latter use is to point human-rights standards elsewhere. They might use the vocabulary of human rights, but these words mean what they want them to mean.

The 2001 World Conference against Racism is a prime example. By singling out Israel, the concluding document was itself racist. The document called the Jews of Israel foreigners, even though Jews have lived continuously in Israel since prehistoric times.

The document further referred to their presence in the region as colonial occupation, even though colonization of the area had ended with the termination of the British mandate in 1948. The document blamed the plight of the Palestinians on Israel alone, as if all the terrorist organizations targeting the Jews of Israel, not least the Palestinian governing authority, had nothing to do with it.

While the strategies employed by rights-violating states at the UN to smother criticism are various, a notable component is an inordinate focus on Israel. Israel is small and geopolitically insignificant. A raft of states in the Arab and Muslim world are opposed to its very existence. Non-democratic states who are neither Arab nor Muslim, but who want to make sure the UN busies itself with anyone but them, are quick to join Arab/Muslim states in elaborate, prolonged, exaggerated criticism of Israel.

Zionism stands for the existence of Israel as the realization of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people. Anti-Zionism stands opposed. There is a confluence of agendas of the anti-Zionists states and the other non-democratic states. Anti-Zionists, having failed in their attempts to destroy Israel through force — in 1948, 1967, and 1973 — have switched to terrorism and delegitimization through demonization. A primary vehicle for this delegitimization strategy is the United Nations.

Jews are the prototypical victims of racism. They are a people whose victimization has been so awful, it gave racism itself, before the Holocaust a widely accepted ideology, a bad name. Yet, they themselves are labelled by anti-Zionists (in a typically tyrannical vocabulary inversion) as racist. Non-democratic states that repress their minorities and who truly are racist are more than happy to jump on this anti-Zionist bandwagon barrelling toward Israel and away from them.

We can be thankful that Canada and several other states walked out of the Durban Conference. But the anti-democratic/anti-Zionist coalition at the UN never misses a trick. It embraced a Durban Review Conference in Geneva in 2009, and a 10th-anniversary event in New York in 2011. Canada boycotted both, as did other rights-respecting states.

At the end of last year, the UN General Assembly decided by resolution that in September 2021 it will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration. Canada voted against this resolution, as did several other rights-respecting states. The anniversary celebration this fall is expected to call for the full implementation of the declaration.

Feb. 22 is the first day of the next session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. On opening day, a high-level panel is scheduled to discuss the upcoming 20th anniversary. Canada should there express again its concerns about the Durban document and make clear its intention not to attend the celebration.

Canada, despite all the obfuscation of the cabal of anti-Zionist and other non-democratic states, should work through the United Nations to combat real racism. One component must be standing continuously against the Durban perversion of the anti-racist agenda to serve racist ends, with Jews yet again the intended victims.

The fight against racism is too important to ignore. Through their resurrection of the Durban Document and their pretend accusation as racist of a people devastated by racism, truly racist states attempt to avoid the criticism they so justly deserve. Canada at the United Nations should continue to say no to racism, real racism, and no also to this 20th anniversary.

Sarah Teich is a senior fellow with the Macdonald Laurier Institute. David Matas is senior honorary counsel to B’nai Brith Canada.  He was rapporteur for the Jewish Caucus at the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism.  

Source: Canada should say no to racism at the United Nations

Matas and Cotler: Legal steps must be taken against China for initial inaction

In order to safeguard global public health, the world must take action against the Government of China for its role in this global pandemic crisis. The Chinese Communist Party of China (CCP) and the Government of China, which the party directs, bear a large measure of responsibility for the global spread of COVID-19.

In the early days of the pandemic’s spread and during the Lunar New Year travel season, the Chinese government downplayed the severity of the illness and its spread. Human Rights Watch said in January that Chinese authorities had “detained people for ‘rumor-mongering,’ censored online discussions of the epidemic, curbed media reporting, and failed to ensure appropriate access to medical care for those with virus symptoms and others with medical needs.” Amnesty International warned soon after that the withholding of information was putting at risk the medical community’s ability to combat the virus.

There is authoritative and compelling evidence – including a study from the University of Southampton – that if interventions in China had been conducted three weeks earlier, transmission of COVID-19 could have been reduced by 95 per cent.

Meanwhile, an analysis of Chinese censorship around COVID-19, by the Munk School’s Citizen Lab, found that “Censorship of COVID-19 content started at early stages of the outbreak and continued to expand blocking a wide range of speech, from criticism of the government to officially sanctioned facts and information.”

The Chinese government’s wrongdoing and the suffering of its victims within its borders and internationally calls out for justice and accountability. There are clear and compelling legal remedies that should be considered to effectively address and redress this matter.


The International Court of Justice through a request for an advisory opinion from the United Nations General Assembly

The United Nations Charter provides that the UN General Assembly may request the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an advisory opinion on any legal question. Any UN member state can ask the General Assembly to make such a request to the ICJ, and China would not be able to veto such a resolution. The General Assembly could therefore request that the ICJ determine whether the actions of Xi Xinping’s China regarding coronavirus were in breach of its international legal obligations.

United Nations Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council can pass a condemnatory resolution, or even establish a commission of inquiry into China’s actions regarding the coronavirus. If such initiatives are unlikely to muster the necessary majority of votes by member states of the council, independent statements can be made at the council’s regular sessions. Under agenda item 4 — “human rights situations that require the council’s attention” — any country, whether a member of the council or not, can deliver an oral statement. The wrongdoing of the Chinese government in the global spread of the coronavirus should be a matter of continuing concern at future sessions of the Human Rights Council.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, currently Dr. Dainius Puras, can consider individual complaints, issue annual reports and conduct country visits. Accordingly, he should be asked to address China’s culpability in the spread of COVID-19.

There is a sense of urgency to such a prospective path towards accountability, as the current Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health will be replaced at the Council Session taking place between June 15th and July 3rd.

China was appointed in April to the Consultative Group of the Human Rights Council. The group advises the President of the council on the appointment of special rapporteurs and holds final approval over council appointments. It is therefore unlikely that the council, with a member of the Chinese Communist Party as part of its makeup, would appoint to any specialized mechanism a person who may be critical of the government of China.

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) was critical in 2003 of the Chinese Communist Party for its secrecy, dishonesty and cover-up concerning the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Guangzhou, Guangdong of 2002. However, the behaviour of the WHO in the current pandemic is disappointing.

One might have hoped that the Chinese government has learned the lessons of its failures from the time of the SARS outbreak. Instead, of China reforming its policies and practices, it is the WHO that has altered its approach, failing to stand up to China.

The WHO has an important ongoing mandate and responsibility for our health and security which becomes particularly urgent in a time of a global pandemic, such as SARS in 2003 and now with COVID-19. Therefore, the WHO must be a particular focus of accountability efforts and encouraged to do the right thing, which is also the smart thing, for global public health and effectively confronting the Coronavirus.

International Health Regulations

The International Health Regulations were adopted in 2005 by the World Health Assembly of the WHO, to protect humanity from the international spread of disease. The unprecedented global impact of COVID-19 has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of these regulations.

In particular, there are no effective mechanisms when a state party violates regulations. All measures are subject to the approval of the violating state party, an unrealistic expectation when it comes to Xi Jinping’s China.

Yet, these regulations should not be rendered inoperative merely because of the necessity of agreement from Xi Xinping’s China to make them effective. An effort should be undertaken to render these regulations operable, and the very pursuit of this objective will underpin accountability efforts, promote a truthful narrative and mitigate Chinese propaganda.

International Court of Justice through the World Health Organization

The Constitution of the WHO provides that any dispute concerning the application of the constitution not settled by negotiation or by the World Health Assembly shall be referred to the International Court of Justice. A dispute regarding whether Xi Xinping’s China violated the International Health Regulations would likely constitute a dispute that could be referred by any WHO member state to the International Court of Justice.

The World Health Assembly

More broadly, the systemic challenges of the WHO must be addressed, and its next gathering from May 17 to 21 in Geneva presents such an opportunity. Ironically, the assembly may be unable to meet due to the failings of the WHO and the International Health Regulations in combatting the spread of COVID19.

In the World Health Assembly, as in the United Nations General Assembly, Xi Xinping’s China does not have a veto. This an opportunity for the international community to prioritize public health and pursue justice regarding the pandemic.

The Biological Weapons Convention

The Biological Weapons Convention obligates state parties, of which China is one, not to retain biological agents other than for peaceful purposes. A biological agent has been defined under the Convention to mean any organism which can cause death, disease or incapacity. 

Repressing or misrepresenting information about the virus, detaining health practitioners who seek to sound the alarm, and arguing publicly against global travel restrictions, are forms of retention of the virus that have harmed global peace and security.

Any state party to the convention could therefore make a complaint to the U.N. Security Council. Given that the convention has 183 state parties, that includes nearly every country in the world. The UN Security Council, on receipt of a complaint of violation, must investigate the matter and produce a report.


Magnitsky laws

Magnitsky laws for global justice and accountability, named for murdered Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky, allows for the public listing of serious human rights violators – naming and shaming them – and subjecting them to visa bans and asset seizures, thus challenging the cultures of corruption and criminality, and the impunity that underpins them.

There are six countries with this law. None of them have targeted any rights violators in Xi Xinping’s China. More countries should enact such laws, and all those with Magnitsky legislation should consider implementing them to pursue justice and accountability for those responsible for perpetrating and perpetuating COVID-19.

Universal jurisdiction laws on crimes against humanity through prosecution 

Many countries have laws which allow for the domestic prosecution of those who have committed crimes against humanity abroad. While these laws typically apply to permanent residents and citizens, some may also apply to visitors.

The accused would have to be found in the territory of the country in order for the local courts to have jurisdiction. While it varies by country – with some allowing for the private initiation of prosecutions – it is most often the exclusive decision of public prosecutors. Prosecutors are, however, usually reluctant to engage in such prosecutions, due to the prohibitive costs and evidentiary obstacles inherent in a case where the criminality and material evidence is abroad. Where private prosecutions are possible, they should be vigorously pursued.

There are other states, beyond China, that have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 through bad public policy and poor governance. Any liability response should be compelling and comprehensive, holding all wrongdoers to account. Yet, in doing so, the intentional and particularly intensive wrongdoing of China should be duly considered.

The denial, coverup and counter-factual narrative surrounding COVID-19 – underpinned by the use of global political pressure abroad and the repression of whistleblowers and medical heroes at home – has become standard operating procedure for the Communist Party of China. Immunity and impunity invite repetition.

In order to safeguard global public health, the world must act. Short-term political or economic considerations encouraging the indulgence of wrongdoing in Xi Jinping’s  China come with a long-term cost. Preventing another pandemic and protecting humanity necessitates pursuing justice and accountability for the Communist Party’s actions.

Source: Legal steps must be taken against China for initial inaction

A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

Strange bedfellows:

An upcoming Toronto conference is going to feature anti-Islam speakers, anti-hate advocates and some of the most recognizable Jewish organizations in Canada.

The “national teach-in” on hate and racism is organized by a group called Canadians for the Rule of Law, which argues on its website that “‘political correctness’ is distorting valid criticism” and “‘Libel chill’ is preventing the sharing of ugly facts.” The teach-in seeks to expose those who perpetuate these problems to the detriment of Canadian democracy.

To that effect, the March 17 conference will scrutinize “(A) the radical left; (B) radical Islamists; and (C) the radical right,” in that order of priority. The teach-in was supposed to take place at an important synagogue in Toronto until it pulled out last week over security concerns.

B’nai Brith Canada, one of the country’s most prominent Jewish advocacy groups, has agreed to their CEO Michael Mostyn moderating one of the panel sessions, while Robert Walker, the head of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, a pro-Israel group that works primarily on campuses, is also speaking at the event next March.

Though the conference features a number of well-known, mainstream anti-hate advocates such as Donald Carr, who sits on the board of CFTRL, David Matas and Anita Bromberg, a significant number of organizers and featured speakers are active in Canada’s anti-Muslim or alt-right circles.

Perhaps most notable among these are Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, and Christine Douglass-Williams, who was fired from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation board for being an active writer to Jihad Watch, a leading Islamophobic platform. McVety had a national TV show pulled off the air in 2010 for his remarks against the LGBTQ community. His college hosted a Rebel Media event in Feb 2017, emceed by prominent far-right propagandist Faith Goldy. He also hosted the popular anti-Islam activist and then Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders in 2011. At the time, McVety described the spread of Islam in Canada as a “demographic jihad.” “Islam is not just a religion, it’s a political and cultural system as well and we know that Christians, Jews and Hindus don’t have the same mandate for a hostile takeover,” he said in 2011.

“No reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion.”

John Carpay, who heads up Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, will also be at the conference. He spoke at a Rebel Media event in Calgary last month about the threat of totalitarianism in Canada partly by comparing the Nazi swastika to the “rainbow flag,” a comment he later said was “unintentionally” made. Rebel also fundraised on behalf of Carpay’s centre and some of its initiatives.

B’nai Brith Canada’s media liaison Marty York qualified his organization’s overall involvement when asked whether the decision to send its CEO to participate was made with the consideration that it features such a prominent anti-Muslim presence.

“Mr. Mostyn is moderating one single session on hate speech, which is something he does regularly,” York told VICE News. “He found out who the panelists are going to be and he was comfortable with their identities. Whoever else is involved during the day in other sessions, I’m not even sure if he even knows.”

He said Mr. Mostyn saw “no reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion” on hate speech in his one session.

“So there seems to be a smear by association campaign going on, and if that’s the case it’s very unfortunate.”

He added that B’nai Brith Canada “supports the rule of law” in Canada and thus “has no qualms at all about” Mostyn’s participation, regardless of who else is involved throughout the day-long conference.

David Matas, a noted human rights specialist and Senior Honorary Counsel for B’nai Brith, says he’s troubled by the anti-Muslim presence in the planned conference, but didn’t know until friends and colleagues emailed him their concerns.

“This all sort of just popped up and I have to go through all of it and make a decision collectively with my colleagues,” he says. “I admit that from what I’ve seen, there are obviously concerns that we need to discuss and I may end up not participating, but we have to look at all the information first.”

Robert Walker, executive director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, cited addressing “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Zionism” as the main reasons for his involvement in the conference, preferring to offer no comment on the anti-Muslim participants.

“There are obviously concerns that we need to discuss.”

Hasbara is an initiative run out of Aish Hatorah, a major international network of Jewish educational centres and synagogues.

“Contemporary anti-Semitism often masquerades behind different masks, such as anti-Zionism, which is denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland,” he told VICE News. “I do not and cannot speak for other panelists or speakers.”

Among the conference’s main topics is “Actions Against BDS,” or the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the state of Israel.

The conference was originally supposed to take place at the prominent Beth Tikvah synagogue in North York. But in an email to VICE News, Rabbi Jarrod Grover of the synagogue noted that it has pulled out of the arrangement, leaving CFTRL without a host.

Grover stated that the decision to pull out was based primarily on security concerns for participants and to avoid a “media circus” — not over any ideological concerns.

“I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law.”

“We like dialogue and free speech, but we are a religious, not a political organization,” he wrote. “I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law, despite the fact that I obviously have different beliefs than many speakers at this conference.”

According to the Canadian Jewish News, the decision to pull out came after Karen Mock, president of the progressive Jewish group JSpace Canada, reached out to Rabbi Grover to discuss “potential damage control” over media interest in the event due to “the Islamophobia and bigotry associated with some of these groups and individuals.”

A response for a media request to CFTRL’s general inbox was replied by board member David Nitkin, who rejected the request on the basis that VICE News is an “alt-left” publication. Carr did not respond to requests for comment. He told the Canadian Jewish News that the event will go on, and “we reject any attempt by those who wish to stifle free speech.”

Nitkin is also a leading organizer and board member of the anti-Islam group, Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms (C3RF), which indicates in its mission statement that “Islamophobia” is a concept invented by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies to infiltrate Canada and implement Shariah law. It is listed as a “community supporter” of the conference, along with ACT! Canada, which is a prominent anti-Islam group.

Source: A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

Some fears of Islam justified: Lawyer [David Matas]

Sun Media continues to cover the perspectives of those concerned without comparable coverage of those in support of M-103. Both perspectives need to be covered.

My (faint) hope is that the Canadian Heritage committee will come up with a consensus on a working definition, one that puts that particular canard behind us, and allows focus on the day-to-day practical issues:

A celebrated Canadian human rights lawyer urged MPs to be careful in their use of the term Islamophobia, saying “fear of some elements of Islam is mere prudence.”

David Matas, an Order of Canada recipient who began his career as a clerk for the Chief Justice of Canada in the 1960s, delivered testimony Wednesday before the M-103 committee hearings in his capacity as senior counsel to B’nai Brith Canada.

“Not every fear of Islam is Islamophobia,” Matas said to the House of Commons Heritage Committee, noting that anyone who is not afraid of the various radical Islamic terrorist outfits in the world is “foolhardy”.

“Islamophobia does not appear in a vacuum,” Matas told MPs. “It grows out of a fear of incitement and acts of hatred and terrorism coming from elements of the Islamic community.”

The Winnipeg-based lawyer, who ran for office years ago as a Liberal, recommended the committee take a “dual focus” approach on both those victimized by Islamophobia and those within the Islamic community inciting hatred and terrorism.

Following Matas’ testimony, Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, urged the committee to aim towards a more precise definition of Islamophobia.

M-103 was nominally designed to denounce, and study, all forms of racism and discrimination, but has faced extensive controversy for singling out Islam.

Fogel pointed to a Toronto District School Board booklet’s definition of Islamophobia that included mere dislike of political Islam as worthy of censure.

“This incident exposes significant problems with relying on ad hoc, inadequate definitions of Islamophobia,” said Fogel.

On Monday, Muslim author and Sun columnist Farzana Hassan told the committee her concerns about how the term is used in other countries to suppress criticism from within the faith.

Source: Some fears of Islam justified: Lawyer | St. Thomas Times-Journal

If Donald Trump were campaigning in Canada, could he be charged for hate speech?

Good comparative analysis:

On Monday Donald Trump called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on.” Despite universal outrage, the billionaire presidential candidate has only doubled down on his vow, the latest in a string of anti-minority comments ranging from the offensive to the downright absurd. Even respectable commentators have started calling him a fascist.

These comments are in bad taste at best and hateful at worst, why are there no legal repercussions for Trump making them? 

The short answer is because it’s the United States. The U.S. has extremely strong protections for free speech, which is only considered hateful if it will incite direct and immediate violence. Trump pontificating at a podium or in an interview doesn’t qualify. Until he starts an angry mob, he’s free to say whatever he likes.

So for argument’s sake, what if this were happening in Canada? Would anything be different?

Trump’s most recent comments might offend you, but they likely still couldn’t be prosecuted under Canadian law. Though hate speech laws in Canada are broader than they are south of the border, speech needs to meet some very specific requirements to be considered hateful here, too.

Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code states that hate speech “incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace” and where the comments are made in a public place.

This would pose two problems for charges under hate speech law.

“[T]he immediacy of the breach of the peace would make it extremely difficult to convict someone for saying what Trump said,” said Faisal Kutty, a Toronto lawyer and human rights activist.

Trump also isn’t making any outright claims despite the subtext of his statements, said Richard Moon, a law professor at the University of Windsor.

“That’s the main problem with trying to fit his current statement under the hate speech law: it doesn’t have any real hateful content in the sense of making a claim about the nature of character of Muslims,” said Moon. “Of course, why should they be excluded other than, presumably, on the belief that they are somehow dangerous? But he leaves that slightly open.”

But I’ve seen and heard people call his comments hate speech. What does that mean?

That’s due to the technicality of law. While his comments might be considered hateful, the burden of proof under the law is higher. The comments must meet specific criteria to be prosecuted, and his comments likely don’t meet these standards.

What about some of his other comments? He’s said a lot more extreme things in the past.

Some of his previous remarks could more easily be prosecuted, like his remarks about Mexican immigrants during his announcement speech on June 16: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“That is the very stuff of hate speech, and a claim like that made in Canada might well constitute hate speech contrary to the Criminal Code,” Moon said.

So why are Canadian and American hate speech laws so different?

It’s probably due to a lot of factors, but part of it traces back to the founding of the country. America is old, and so are some of the laws, said David Matas, a Winnipeg-based lawyer and author of Bloody Words: Hate and Free Speech.

“In the United States you’ve got a bill of rights which is very old.  It comes from the 18thcentury. Everywhere else, the concept of rights is post-Holocaust, post-Declaration of Human Rights. Being ahead of the gun at the time has left them far behind when it comes to the 21st century.”

Source: If Donald Trump were campaigning in Canada, could he be charged for hate speech?

Using culture and religion to combat incitement: David Matas

From David Matas’ talk at the recent CRRF Webinar, ‘The Power of Words’ (see earlier post CRRF Webinar: Multiculturalism and The Power of Words) and the particular need for the voices of insiders:

The effort to combat human rights violating discourse must be the work of both insiders and outsiders.  Leaving the efforts to others, the outsiders, is a recipe for failure.  Leaving the efforts to outsiders creates an artificial impression of foreign cultural or religious imposition which undermines the advocacy of universality of the standards.

For insiders to assume sole responsibility has the same effect. By leaving the struggle to insiders alone, we create the impression that incitement is an issue for the particular religion or culture alone rather than for us all.

Insiders have a special risk and a special role.  Only insiders can be accused of treason or apostasy.  Only insiders can speak with authority to what the culture or religion truly is.

Ideally, leadership in the struggle against human rights violating discourse should come from within, from the leaders of the cultural or religious community. Solidarity should come from without.  Universality must be more than a word.  It must be demonstrated in fact.  We who are outsiders should be supporting those in every religious and cultural community who stand against incitement emanating from that community.

There is a direct linkage between incitement and other human rights violations.  War propaganda leads to war. Incitement to terrorism leads to terrorism.  Incitement to discrimination leads to discrimination.  Both incitement to genocide and hate propaganda lead to genocide.

There is a direct linkage between the abuse of the religious and cultural idioms to propagate terror, war, genocide, hatred and discrimination and the terrorism, war, discrimination and mass killings in which some members of the culture or religion engage. In some situations, and I see this often in my refugee practice, the opponents in-country of this propaganda emanating from their own culture or religion become primary targets of the propagators.  Standing against incitement in a country without respect for the rule of law means you yourself will become a target for the inciters.

In that situation global solidarity is essential, both within and without the culture or religion from which the incitement emanates. We need to cross the cultural, linguistic, geographic and religious divide not just to show the universality of rights and solidarity with the victims but also as a simple practical matter.  Whether inside or outside the culture or religion, only those outside the country where violations are rampant can there be unequivocal public opposition to human rights violating discourse.

To a certain extent, this problem exists even in countries benefiting from the rule of law.  In countries with the rule of law, those opposed to incitement within their culture or religion may not face the risk of physical harm.  But in a situation where the discourse of incitement in the culture or religion is prevalent, opponents to the discourse within the culture or the religion may face ostracism and scorn.  They risk becoming pariahs in their own communities.

How many of us are prepared to confront our parents, our siblings, our neighbours, our community leaders when they engage in discourse which would be objectively labelled incitement to genocide, hatred, discrimination, terrorism or war? How many of us would hesitate to risk personal relationships in order to stand up against incitement uttered by someone close to us?  How many of us would rather leave the confrontation to a stranger?

Yet, the reality is that a challenge from someone from the same community or culture is likely to have more impact on the genocide/ hate/ terrorism/ war/ discrimination promoter than a challenge from someone culturally or religiously remote. It may be easy for an inciter to shrug off outsiders. It is harder to shrug off your own.

I have avoided giving examples partly because it is invidious to give one or two, partly because it would more than exhaust my time and your patience to be comprehensive, but mostly because I am confident that every one participating can think of examples on his or her own.  While each of us should be thinking about how we can help others in other cultural or religious communities to address the problem of incitement, primarily we should be thinking of what we can do each in our own cultural or religious community to combat this scourge.

Using culture and religion to combat incitement

CRRF Webinar: Multiculturalism and The Power of Words

 Short summary and links to the presentations by David Matas and myself:

words letterpress photo
The first Directions webinar was held on October 6th at 11 am EST.

The webinar featured members of our journal’s Editorial Advisory Panel, Andrew Griffith and David Matas. Andrew and David spoke about their research as it relates to The Power of Words, with a specific focus on multiculturalism in Canada. Their presentations and questions from participants are posted below.

The webinar was moderated by Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux.

The Winter 2015 issue, The Power of Words responds to the question, “Is our lexicon a positive force or part of the problem?”

Published in print and online January 2016, The Power of Words speaks to the importance of reviewing and evolving science terminology in response to changing demographics and settlement trends. The concept of hyphenated Canadians, terms such as ‘visible minorities’ and ‘newcomers,’ and even the idea of ‘race relations’ require ongoing reassessment, and are being challenged and re-examined in the context of our changing society. How do language and lexicon in policy, in the media, and in daily interactions influence our experiences, identities, attitudes, and relationships? How can discourse create and perpetuate unbalanced power relations, marginalizing certain groups and individuals? How can we use language to promote positive race relations in a harmonious Canada?


Andrew Griffith’s presentation >

David Mata’s presentation >


Did you miss the webinar, or would you like to listen to the discussion again? Check out the audio recording of the webinar here.

Source: Articles and Announcements – Webinar: Multiculturalism and The Power of Words

For a slightly expanded version of my presentation (an additional slide contrasting the words of Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau):

CRRF Power of Words – My Deck

Sign up today! CRRF Directions: Webinar – ‘The Power of Words’ 6 October

Join David Matas and myself in a discussion of the ‘power of words’ to shape discourse around citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism.

Sign-up: CRRF Directions: Webinar – The ‘Power of Words’ Tuesday, 6 October 11 am

Tories speed up plan to give minister power to strip citizenship – The Globe and Mail

More debate on the proposed revocation measures, particularly with respect to revocation for fraud and Ministerial decision-making. The previous revocation process was largely unworkable:

Mr. Alexander told CTV this week the existing revocation process is “one of the most time-consuming, document-intensive bureaucratic processes I’ve ever seen.” His spokeswoman, Codie Taylor, said the unilateral system is meant to “reduce duplication and bureaucracy. We are making the citizenship system more efficient, which will result in decreased backlogs and improved processing times.”

Canada can’t leave a person stateless under international treaty law, so the rules apply only to dual citizens. The law also puts the onus on those accused to prove they’d be left stateless – not on government to prove they wouldn’t. Mr. Alexander also now has the sole right to grant “discretionary” citizenship, though the government says it will not make public the list of those who get it.

The changes in Bill C-24 omit Sections 10 and 18 of the existing Citizenship Act, which dealt with revocation and a subject’s right to appeal to court. While court will no longer be an option in some cases, Winnipeg immigration lawyer David Matas noted other cases actually will be sent to a higher court than before. “This new legislation, as far as I can see, is an improvement,” he said.

Tories speed up plan to give minister power to strip citizenship – The Globe and Mail.