The 2022 federal budget, delivered in the House of Commons on April 7, contained over $70 million directed to projects in the Jewish community and combatting antisemitism.
The budget also indicated the government intends to amend the Criminal Code “to prohibit the communication of statements, other than in private conversation, that willfully promote antisemitism by condoning, denying or downplaying the Holocaust.”
Saskatoon-Grasswood Conservative MP Kevin Waugh had introduced a private members bill that would make Holocaust denial a crime on Feb.9.
The budget committed $5.6 million over the next five years to the office of the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. Irwin Cotler, who currently holds that position, commended Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland for a budget that fulfilled the pledges Canada made at an international summit on antisemitism in Malmo, Sweden last year.
“The historic announcements in today’s budget, respecting Holocaust remembrance and combatting antisemitism translate the commitment to remembrance into a remembrance to act,” Cotler said in a news release.
The budget also promises funding for several large building projects in the Jewish community, with $20 million earmarked for the new Montreal Holocaust Museum and $2.5 million for Toronto’s renovated Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. Money was also allocated for the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre redevelopment plan, although the budget did not specify an amount.
The initiatives were welcomed by Jewish advocacy groups. “This is an important budget for Canada’s Jewish community,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “The government of Canada committed to fighting antisemitism. They have translated that commitment into funding for meaningful initiatives to combat antisemitism to the benefit of all Canadians.”
Michael Levitt, CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center concurred. “Once passed, this funding and amended Criminal Code will have a lasting positive impact in the Jewish community and the fight against antisemitism,” he said in a news release.