Antisemitism in Canada
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Part of Jewish history
Antisemitism in Canada
Up until the 1930s
In 1807, when Ezekiel Hart was elected to the legislature of Lower Canada, he was sworn in using a Hebrew Bible not a Christian Bible. An objection was raised that Hart had not taken the oath in the manner required for sitting in the assembly — an oath of abjuration, which would have required Hart to swear "on the true faith of a Christian". Hart was expelled from the assembly due to his religious beliefs.
In 1910, Joseph Plamondon encouraged the public to attack Jewish storekeepers and businesses in Quebec City. The shopkeepers took legal action against Plamondon, but were awarded minimal costs four years later.
On March 14, 1938, Dr. H U. Granow, the German consul-general in Ottawa, wrote to the Department of External Affairs requesting laws that would require "race or colour" to become a factor of legal consequence in issues such as the exercise of civil and political rights, marriage, sexual relations, professions, school and university acceptances, and immigration.
During the 1930s and 1940s, several societal models reflected anti-Semitism. In British Columbia and Saskatchewan, laws denied voting rights on the ground of religion in provincial and federal elections. Those disqualified from voting were also disqualified from jury duty, public office and volunteering in war.
Between 1930 and 1939, Canada rejected almost all Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe, taking in only 4,000 of the 800,000 Jews looking for refuge. MS St. Louis sailed from Hamburg in May 1939, carrying 937 Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Nazi persecution. The destination was Cuba, but officials in Havana cancelled Jewish passengers' visas. Jewish immigration was strictly limited in North America, so the passengers were denied entrance to Canada and the United States.
William Lyon Mackenzie King, Frederick Blair, Thomas Crerar, Vincent Massey, Ernest Lapointe, Thomas Dufferin Pattullo, Wilfrid Lacroix, Hervé-Edgar Brunelle, Charlotte Whitton, Maurice Duplessis, Norman Robertson were all actively involved in the Antisemitic Xenophobia that resulted in the turning away of the MS St. Louis.
The Great Depression encouraged a search for scapegoats among so-called "foreigners" including Canadian-born Jews, and the rise of Hitler in Germany, along with international anti-semitic propaganda, justified prejudice and exclusionary practices against Jews in Canada.
Outbreaks of violence against Jews and Jewish property culminated in 1933 with the Christie Pits riots; six hours of violent conflict between Jewish and Christian youth in Toronto, Ontario. Local synagogues were set on fire, swastikas and Nazi slogans began to crop up on Toronto’s eastern beaches, and Jewish swimmers were attacked.
In 1934, Adrien Arcand started a Parti national social chrétien in Montreal patterned after the Nazi party. His party’s actions resulted in anti-Semitic rallies, boycotts, propaganda and literature, and the inception of several other Nazi-like organizations throughout Canada. In 1938, a National Fascism Convention was held in Toronto's Massey Hall.
The outbreak of World War II saw more anti-Semitic practices. Units in the Canadian Forces rejected Jewish volunteers, and the Canadian National Selective Service discriminated against Jews when assigning workers to munitions factories. A post-War Gallup poll placed Jews second behind the Japanese on a list of most undesirable immigrants.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, employment discrimination against Jews in Canada was rampant. During this time, prohibitions stopped Jews from becoming lawyers, pharmacists, miners, loggers, or fishermen, and denied them minimum wage rights and welfare benefits. Typical employment applications asked for racial origin and religion, and if a Jew was inadvertently hired due to misrepresentation, he or she could be fired. There were few Jewish teachers, professors, architects, principals, engineers or accountants. Many institutions set quotas on how many Jews they would hire, or hired none at all (such as the City of Toronto, which refused to hire Jewish police officers and transit workers). Often owners and managers displayed signs such as “Gentiles Only,” or “No Jews or Dogs Allowed.”
A 1948 article on anti-Semitism in Canada written for MacLean’s magazine by Pierre Berton illustrates this racism: Berton hired two young women to apply for the same jobs, one under the name Greenberg, and the other under the name Grimes. While Grimes received interviews for nearly every application, positions available for Grimes were "already filled" when Greenberg applied, or Greenberg’s applications were ignored. When Berton contacted several of these companies, he was told, “Jews did not have the right temperament,” that “they don’t know their place” or that “we don’t employ Jews.”
Clubs and resorts in Canada also denied Jews access using "exclusive" policies. The St. Andrews Golf Club in Toronto displayed a sign that read, "This course is restricted to Gentiles only. Please do not question this policy." A Montreal resort boasted a sign that read "Christians Only" and someone "walked along the beach with a megaphone, politely inquiring whether there was a Jew present despite the warning, and asking him to leave as quickly as possible."
Berton, during his research on Canadian anti-Semitism, sent two different letters to 29 summer resorts, one signed Marshall, the other signed Rosenberg. "Marshall" was able to book twice as many reservations as "Rosenberg." Some resorts did not reply to "Rosenberg", and some told "Rosenberg" they were fully booked.
Anti-semitic residential segregation was also prevalent during the 1930s and 1940s, and was accomplished through restrictive covenants. These were agreements among owners of properties to not sell or rent to members of certain races, including Jews, or were clauses registered against deeds by land developers that restricted ownership based on racial origin. At the time, restrictive covenants could be enforced by the courts.
Antisemitism is still a concern in Canada. On April 12, 2012 several Jewish-owned summer homes in Val Morin were broken into and defaced with swastikas and anti-semitic messages.
In 2009, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism was established by major federal political parties to investigate and combat antisemitism, namely new antisemitism. However, antisemitism is less of a concern in Canada than in most countries with significant Jewish populations. The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith monitors incidents and issues an annual audit of these events.
According to the CFCA database, there are more than twenty antisemitic incidents in Canada. These incidents include antisemitic graffitis, paints of swastikas in jewish neighborhood, firebomb attacks, antisemitic statements, etc. 
- Manuel Prutschi, "Anti-Semitism in Canada", Fall 2004. Accessed March 29, 2008.
- Dr. Karen Mock, "Hate Propaganda and Anti-Semitism: Canadian Realities", April 9, 1996. Accessed March 29, 2008.
- "The Story: The Voyage". Voyage of the St. Louis. Washington, DC: United States Memorial Holocaust Museum. Archived from the original on 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
- Adelman, Howard and John H. Simpson, eds. Multiculturalism, Jews and Identities in Canada. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1996.
- "Anti-semitism incidents jump five-fold in Canada". thestar.com. 2010-04-11. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "Antisemitic Incidents". CFCA. CFCA. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Davies, Alan T (1992), Antisemitism in Canada: history and interpretation, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, ISBN 0-88920-216-8