Pierre Poilievre laid out the federal Conservative plan to address hate crimes during a visit to Toronto’s Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue with a pair of Jewish politicians

Pierre Poilievre, with MP Melissa Lantsman and York Centre candidate Roman Baber at Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue, Toronto, Nov. 23, 2023

Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre called for an Iranian military group to be designated as a terrorist entity, and pledged to make it easier for community groups to access funds for security infrastructure, as he explained his plan to address hate crimes in Canada.

Antisemitic incidents and crimes have jumped dramatically since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and the resulting war in Gaza.

In Montreal, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a synagogue and shots have been fired at Jewish schools. In Toronto, the city’s largest Jewish school was evacuated after a bomb threat and students on university campuses across the country have been threatened.

“After terrorist attacks in synagogues and schools in Montreal, against innocent Muslims in Quebec City and London, harassment of other communities of faith across this country, including burning down of churches, enough is enough,” Poilievre said at a news conference at Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue in Toronto, on Nov. 23.

Flanked by deputy Conservative leader, Thornhill MP Melissa Lantsman, and York Centre’s nominated candidate Roman Baber, the aspiring prime minister laid out a five-point policy to combat hate crime.

The plan does not include targeting the pro-Palestinian protests that have become a regular feature in Canada’s largest cities.

“People have the right to demonstrate, as long as they do so peacefully. The line is drawn when someone is violent toward someone else, when they prevent a business from legitimately operating,” Poilievre said.

“At the same time, when we see things we don’t agree with, I have freedom of expression to condemn those things. When I see chants that I don’t agree with, I condemn those chants. We live in a free country and that means people are free to say things I don’t like and I am free to condemn them.”

Among the Conservative Party’s policies was a call to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military, as a terrorist entity.

The group is the “most sophisticated, well-financed terror group on Planet Earth,” Poilievre said. It coordinated the Oct.7 attacks on Israel, and is an ally of Hezbollah, which has been designated in Canada as a terrorist group.

The militia was also responsible for shooting down a civilian airliner in 2020, killing 85 Canadian citizens and residents on board.

In Canada, the government has listed 10,000 officials with the IRGC as ineligible to enter Canada and enacted sanctions against the organization. An arm of the IRGC, Quds Force, has been designated a terrorist group.

The United States designated the IRGC as a terrorist group in 2019.  

Citing a recent news report, Poilievre said 700 IRGC agents are operating in Canada and “terrorizing” the Persian and Jewish communities.

Poilievre also pledged to cut the red tape involved in the federal Security Infrastructure Program, which provides funding to community centres and places of worship for items such as cameras, reinforced glass and other upgrades.

Dominic LeBlanc, minister of public safety, announced that $5 million was added to the program earlier this month.The Jewish Community Council in Montreal has called for easier and quicker access to funds, following recent attacks on synagogues and schools there.

Canada also must establish a national task force to co-ordinate the fight against terrorism, Poilievre said.

“The risk we have is that federal intelligence bureaucracies in Ottawa may be aware of a potential risk, but if they don’t tell local police of where that risk could manifest itself, the attack could happen before anyone has a chance to prevent it.”

He also called for the establishment of a national foreign agent registry and for the government to re-evaluate the risk of a terrorist attack.