Ontario, anti-Palestinian racism, in an updated anti-racism strategy is not a good look!

Send a  letter to Minister responsible for IHRA being implemented into Ontario anti-racism strategy.

A response through the Ontario Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) has revealed that the province of Ontario intends to implement the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition through an updated anti-racism strategy that is expected to be released this summer.

The IHRA is designed to silence criticism of Israel and of Zionism by equating this criticism with antisemitism.

Through the IPC mediation process, the Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism (MCM) confirmed in early July 2023 to Just Peace Advocates, that MCM  “will be revising the definition of antisemitism to the IHRA definition in the next Anti-Racism Strategy to align with the Order in Council the government approved and ordered on October 26, 2020.” The Ministry indicated “the Strategy is scheduled to be released in summer 2023.

Order in Council 1450/2020 was made by royal prerogative, hastily over a weekend behind closed door, and atypically is not tied to any legislation. Deputy Attorney General David Corbett clarified in a letter on November 13, 2020 to Just Peace Advocates that the order-in-council “reflects the decision of the government of Ontario to adopt that definition for matters within the discretion of a Ministry of the Crown.” (my emphasis). The deputy attorney general continued, “It does not otherwise alter any legal definition of antisemitism that may be set out in existing or future laws of Ontario, nor does it direct or require that entities that operate independent of the government adopt that same definition.”

This left more questions than answers, regarding the actual implementation of IHRA in Ontario. Initial access requests to several ministries including Cabinet Office were denied. Thus, in July 2022, a new freedom of access request was filed to attempt to determine if Ontario again had implemented IHRA and if so, the extent of that implementation.

After delays, limited records were released in December 2022, but these did not provide information to confirm or deny IHRA implementation. They did show that there had been some meetings with pro-Israel lobby groups for education purposes of Ontario government officials.

It took several attempts to even get confirmation if records had been withheld, but in the end were told over 300 pages were being withheld due to exceptions in the Act. Thus, an appeal was filed with the IPC in January 2023. We still are in process with the IPC in regard to the 300+ pages withheld, but this recent information makes it important to take action now.

Ontario is one more example of the IHRA being slipped into policy. The good news is that IHRA, despite all the pro-Israel self-congratulation, has not been legislated. However, an anti-racism strategy that endorses anti-Palestinian racism is an oxymoron at best.

Cosponsor: Oakville Palestinian Rights Association (OPRA)

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