Transcript: Read Trudeau’s opening remarks from the National Summit on Antisemitism

The CJN is covering Canada’s ongoing National Summit on Antisemitism and will be posting stories as the meeting concludes. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helped open the day-long event on July 21, the first such pan-governmental effort. The following is a direct transcript of his remarks, with a video of the first hour below.


Hello everyone. Bonjour à tous.

Special Envoy (Irwin) Cotler, members of our caucus, leaders and members of Canada’s Jewish communities, and everyone joining us—thank you for being here.

Today’s Summit is important, it’s necessary, and I’m glad we can all come together to discuss and identify how we can move the dial on combatting antisemitism.

Before I begin, I want to say a few words about my friend Rabbi (Reuven) Bulka who passed away recently.

With his kindness, optimism, and devotion, he encouraged people to ask themselves: what can we do to make the world a better place? Today and every day, let’s be inspired by his memory as we work to build a more inclusive Canada. And may his memory be a blessing. 

Comme vous le savez, lors des dernières semaines, j’ai visité plusieurs communautés à travers le pays pour parler de notre relance après cette pandémie.

Partout où je vais, je partage la vision de notre équipe pour rebâtir un Canada encore plus fort qu’avant.

Un Canada avec une économie prospère.

Un Canada où l’on protège l’environnement.

Et un Canada où tout le monde est respecté et en sécurité.

Today we’re here to continue to fight—and reject—antisemitism in all of its forms.

The rise in hate-motivated crimes against the Jewish community in the past few months is not only alarming, it’s completely unacceptable.

As Jewish-Canadians, too many of you have told me you’re feeling isolated and vulnerable.

You’ve shared that this spike in violence, and this harassment, has left people in fear to publicly and proudly live Jewish lives.

Every Canadian deserves to be—and feel—safe.

And I want to reassure you that our government will always stand with you against this hate.

Quand quelqu’un est attaqué dans notre pays en raison de son origine, de sa religion, ou de la couleur de sa peau, on en sort tous diminués.

La recrudescence des crimes motivés par la haine nous inquiète tous.

Et on va toujours être là pour combattre l’antisémitisme au Canada, et partout dans le monde.

No Canadian should fear to practice their religion.

Of course, good intentions are not enough. That’s why we have, and will continue, to fight hatred in our country.

As you know, we adopted the working definition of antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. And we will continue to firmly defend it.

In line with our commitment to promote and defend pluralism, inclusion, and human rights, we also appointed Irwin Cotler to advance Holocaust education, preserve the stories of survivors through younger generations, and combat antisemitism, among other responsibilities.

And we’re not stopping there.

Earlier this year, we listed additional far-right extremist groups as terrorist entities. This will help police forces stop these groups’ dangerous activities.

In recent years, we also quadrupled funding for the Security Infrastructure Program to help protect communities at risk.

Just this morning, we announced that 149 projects representing over $6.4 million have been recommended for development.

This is the largest investment for a given year in the history of the program. And it will enhance the security of many synagogues, Jewish schools, and community institutions across the country.

With the right investments, we will keep people safe.

Back in February, I spoke to Rabbi Adam Scheier whose synagogue in Montreal had been vandalized with hateful graffiti.

Thanks to cameras that were installed with the help of this program, a security guard was able to catch the perpetrator quickly before he could do more harm.

All these measures make a real difference in our fight against antisemitism.

But frankly, in an ideal world, we shouldn’t need programs like this. Because in an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any antisemitism, period.

So yes, we need to continue to do more as a government, but we also need to have this conversation as a society.

And that’s why we’re here today.

Because antisemitism isn’t a problem for the Jewish community to solve alone—it’s everyone’s challenge to take on.

We know that these past few months have been difficult, particularly with the distress and tension caused by the conflict in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

Canada stands firm in its support for Israel’s right to live in peace with its neighbours within secure boundaries, and for Israel’s right to defend itself.

We condemn the indiscriminate barrage of rocket attacks fired by Hamas into populated areas of Israel, putting civilians and children at risk.

We remain committed to supporting progress towards a two-state solution, and continue to oppose unilateral actions that jeopardize the prospects for peace. And we will stand firmly with the Israeli and Palestinian peoples in their right to live in peace and security, and with their human rights respected.

The implications of the conflict also reverberated around the world with an unacceptable spike in antisemitism, including here in Canada.

In June, Special Envoy Cotler led Canada’s delegation at the IHRA Athens Plenary. He worked with partners to garner unanimous support for a statement on the increase in antisemitic violence and hate speech stemming from the violence between Hamas and Israel.

Earlier this month, Minister (Marc) Garneau made an official visit to Israel, and I recently spoke with the new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, as well as with Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

We discussed our common goal to build on Canada and Israel’s long history as close friends and allies, based on our shared democratic values and the many ways in which our countries can work more closely together, including to combat antisemitism all around the world.

Même si on souhaite de tout cœur en finir avec l’antisémitisme une bonne fois pour toute, la conversation d’aujourd’hui ne sera pas la dernière.

On va être là pour lutter contre la haine et la radicalisation en ligne.

On va continuer de travailler avec nos partenaires provinciaux et municipaux.

Et on va toujours rester à l’écoute des communautés juives partout au Canada.

Parce qu’on est plus forts ensemble.

My friends, the progress we’ve made as a country didn’t happen by accident, and it won’t continue without effort.

Our government will always support the Jewish community.

Today, we’re here to listen.

We’re ready to do the work needed and to continue taking action. Together, I know we will build a better Canada—a Canada where everyone is safe, no matter who they are, and no matter where they live.

The best is yet to come.

This website—the one you’re on right now—is just the tip of the iceberg. The CJN is building a whole new platform, which will be launching summer 2021. Jewish Canadians will be able to find community events, listen to relevant podcasts, connect with national networks and, of course, read breaking news stories, in-depth analysis and unique perspectives that matter. Subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on social media, to be the first to see our newest iteration go live.