Canada might ban Holocaust denial. Here’s why that probably won’t curtail antisemitism

Canadian Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland presenting the 2022 federal budget in the House of Commons on April 7, 2022.

Canada’s most recent budget earmarks $70 million dollars for the Jewish community, with a specific focus on fighting antisemitism and Holocaust denial. Millions of dollars are designated for educational projects like Holocaust museums. But way down, on page 275, is a promise that essentially makes Holocaust denial outright illegal.

The move would see Canada join 17 other countries that have already banned Holocaust denial, including France, Belgium and, of course, Israel. But the arguments against criminalizing Holocaust denial are myriad. The United States and United Kingdom don’t for fears it would impinge on freedom of expression. Canadian columnists have argued singling out Jews for special treatment could have the opposite effect, sparking more antisemitic conspiracies. Meanwhile, in countries that have outlawed it—again, France and Belgium—antisemitism still runs rampant.

To break down its meaning, we’re joined by Belle Jarniewski, executive director of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada in Winnipeg and director of the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre. She helps break down the bill and argues that any legislation is toothless without a core ingredient: Holocaust education.

What we talked about:

  • Read Canada’s 2022 budget
  • Read “Role of Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism to be made permanent, Trudeau tells conference” at thecjn.ca
  • Read “Liberals have decided to start from scratch on their bill to combat online hate” at thecjn.ca
  • Participate in the survey about the National Action Plan on Combatting Hate
  • Listen to the Bonjour Chai episode, “Holocaust denial could be criminalized in Canada with a new proposed bill. But would it work?”, at thecjn.ca

Credits

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.