B'nai Brith Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
B'nai Brith Canada
B'nai Brith Canada Logo.png
Legal statusActive
PurposeAdvocacy, Education, Network, Social Work
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 15 Hove St.
Region served
4,000 members (2007)[1]
Official language
English, French
Michael Mostyn
Parent organization
B'nai B'rith International

B'nai Brith Canada (BBC) (English: /bəˌn ˈbrɪθ/, from Hebrew: בני ברית b'né brit, "Children of the Covenant")[2] is the Canadian section of B'nai B'rith (the Canadian organization uses no apostrophe in "B'rith"), the oldest Jewish service organization in the world. It is committed to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and combating antisemitism and bigotry.


The Mission of B'nai Brith Canada, as stated in the preamble to its constitution:

B'nai Brith has taken upon itself the mission of uniting person of the Jewish faith in the work of promoting their highest interest and those of humanity; of developing and elevating the mental and moral character of the people of our faith; of inculcating the purest principles of philanthropy, honour and patriotism; of supporting science and art; alleviating the wants of the poor and needy; visiting and caring for the sick; coming to the rescue of the victims of persecution; providing for, protecting and assisting the aged, the widow and the orphan on the broadest principles of humanity.[3]

Early history[edit]

B'nai Brith Canada has had a presence in this country since its earliest days, with roots stretching back to 1875. It is Canadian Jewry's most senior human rights advocacy organization and is the only national independent voice speaking out on behalf of grassroots Jewish Canadians.

In 1875, Lodge No. 246 was the first lodge founded in Toronto Canada, followed soon after by another in Montreal. Many community leaders were associated with these lodges. Over time, a team of dedicated volunteers and professional staff engaged in combating antisemitism, bigotry and racism in Canada and abroad in addition to wide-ranging educational and social programming, community and volunteer services, and human initiatives. These and other activities undertaken are meant to reflect the organization's commitment to "People Helping People."[3]

Just as B'nai Brith has grown and evolved over the years in order to respond to the particular needs of the time, so has Canadian Jewry undergone many transformations. Throughout, B'nai Brith has consistently employed its successful advocacy model of strong community, results-oriented grassroots activism.

20th century to present[edit]

In the first two decades of the 20th century B'nai B'rith launched three of today's major Jewish organizations: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Hillel and BBYO (originally B'nai B'rith Youth Organization). Later they would take on a life of their own with varying degrees of autonomy.In September 2014, Ontario lawyer and former Conservative Party candidate Michael Mostyn[4] was appointed CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, succeeding Frank Dimant upon his retirement after 36 years with the organization.[5]

Role in the 2007 by-election[edit]

In the 2007 by-election in Outremount the group which accused Jocelyn Coulon of being anti-American and anti-Israel because of his views on Middle East issues such as the Hamas-Israel-Lebanon conflict.[6][7] The Quebec-Israel Committee however, stated that B'Nai Brith's statements were exaggerated and that Coulon had every right to be the Liberal candidate. These issues were thought to be important because the Jewish community in Outremont made up 10% of the riding population.

Criticizing the Manitoba Human Rights Commission[edit]

In January 2004, Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association, filed a formal complaint against B'nai Brith Canada under the "discriminatory signs and statements" section of the Manitoba Human Rights Code. After speaking with several people who attended a Winnipeg conference on terrorism hosted by B'nai Brith Canada in October 2003, she wrote that the event was biased against Muslims and would encourage the response teams in attendance to engage in racial profiling. The Manitoba Human Rights Commission (MHRC) accepted the complaint and began an investigation that would last five years. In 2009, the MHRC issued a report that dismissed the complaint due to a lack of evidence.[8] MHRC vice-chairwoman Yvonne Peters subsequently wrote that "the full investigation of the complaint that took place was warranted" and that "the decision was based solely on the insufficiency of the evidence with respect to this particular section of the Human Rights Code."[8][9]

In 2008, David Matas, B'nai Brith's senior counsel, sharply criticized the MHRC for its conduct during the investigation, stating that: "The [Manitoba] Human Rights Commission itself is supposed to be promoting human rights, but in our view in this process it's violating some pretty basic rights: a secret proceeding, a faceless accuser, failure to disclose documents. These are basic procedural rights that are being violated."[9] Writing in the National Post, Joseph Brean made several criticisms of the investigation: The MHRC accepted the complaint despite the fact that the complainant, Shahina Siddiqui, did not actually attend the event. B'nai Brith Canada was never told of the identity of the individuals whose claims Shahina Siddiqui based her complaint on. It has never been revealed what exactly is alleged to have been said at the conference. Tracy Lloyd, an MHRC investigator, spoke with seven anonymous witnesses, including one as late as November 2006. However, only one, a City of Winnipeg employee, shared Siddiqui's criticism that the conference was "one-sided." One of the witnesses, a diversity relations officer, stated that it was "pretty professional," and said police in general are capable of putting almost anything they hear into proper context. The MHRC commissioned a "secret expert report" but refused B'nai Brith's request to know the expert's identity, mandate or material provided. The secret report has still not been made public.[8][9]

Following the release of the MHRC report, Matas accused MHRC vice-chairwoman Yvonne Peters of taking a contradictory position, stating that: "So what they're saying is that a full investigation is warranted even when there's no evidence, as long as the accusation is within the jurisdiction of the board. There's a lot of problems with this. What basically happened is that Siddiqui heard a rumour. She makes a complaint, as a result of which the commission goes on a five-year fishing expedition. They don't find anything. We're co-operating with them. And then they dismiss the complaint. That's not a proper procedure, in my view."[8] Matas also criticized the procedures of the MHRC, stating that they will "take an allegation, without evidence, and just run with it to see if it's true." The previous year, Matas in a submission in a Moon Report on Internet hate speech, Matas charged that Canada's human rights commissions have demonstrated "a disastrous combination of investigative zeal and substantive ignorance." Although Matas stated that he does not believe Siddiqui acted in bad faith, he added that: "The people who run these procedures have to have a more objective viewpoint than the people who make the complaint."[8]

Hassan Diab complaint[edit]

In July 2009, B'nai Brith Canada issued a press release[10] denouncing Carleton University for hiring Hassan Diab, who was alleged by French authorities to have been responsible for the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing. Diab was living under virtual house arrest at the time (he had been granted bail but under very strict conditions) due to an extradition request from France. Diab, who has denied any involvement with the synagogue bombing, has not been convicted of any crime. Within a few hours of the B'nai Brith Canada complaint, Carleton University announced that it would "immediately replace the current instructor, Hassan Diab" in order to provide students "with a stable, productive academic environment that is conducive to learning." B'nai Brith executive vice-president Frank Dimant later stated that "the university did the right thing."[11]

Lesley Hughes lawsuit and settlement[edit]

In 2008, the Liberal Party of Canada drop and revoked the membership of Winnipeg Centre Candidate Lesley Hughes after she was accused on anti-Semitism by the group, the Canadian Jewish Congress and Conservative MP Peter Kent over a 2002 article about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center . [12]She later sued them for defamation and in 2013, they issues a public statement saying Hughes is not an anti-Semite and settled it out of court.[13]


According to an article in The Forward, B'nai Brith Canada had 4,000 full-dues paying members in 2007.[1]

Governance and financial issues[edit]

In 2007, a group calling itself Concerned Members of B'nai Brith Canada charged that a new constitution had been passed despite a majority of members having voted against it at a general meeting. Henry Gimpel, a former Toronto lodge president, told The Forward that "[t]here's too much of [B'nai Brith Canada] being run by one person."[1] Frank Dimant, CEO of BBC, responded to the criticism over the constitution by saying that BBC followed proper governance procedures and that B'nai Brith International's Court of Appeal determined that the constitution was properly enacted. Gimpel and seven other BBC members were expelled in June 2008 for what a disciplinary committee determined to be "conduct unbecoming a member." Gimpel referred to the committee as a kangaroo court.[14]

On July 8, 2015, the Toronto Star reported that Dimant has demanded an annual retirement payout of $175,000, representing 75% of his former salary, which the B'nai Brith believes is too lucrative and will require the struggling charity to direct fundraising dollars to pay for Dimant's pension. Dimant has stated that the payout was approved by the organization's board, however, the Star cites an unnamed source as stating that the deal was arranged with little oversight while Dimant was still in charge. In the year following Dimant's retirement, B'nai Brith Canada put its "state of the art" care facility for Alzheimer's patients under insolvency protection while also trying to sell it. The project, initiated and led by Dimant, is a $16 million facility opened in 2013 but that been unable to attract enough patients, due to high fees for patients of $7,500 a month and the fact that it was not designed to be wheelchair accessible; the facility is losing $50,000 a month and owes $11 million to creditors.[15]

The Toronto Star article also claimed that other issues left by Dimant's former management of B'nai Brith are a lack of records and record keeping and failure to always issue charitable tax receipts and poor corporate governance with approximately 50 people who had believed they were on various boards of B'nai Brith organizations learning that this is not the case, as Dimant's management had failed to file the correct paperwork with government agencies.[15]

Due to financial difficulties, including a decline in charitable donations in recent years, B'nai Brith also ceased publication of its newspaper, Jewish Tribune in 2015, and is selling its headquarters which carries two mortgages totalling nearly $4 million, though the building itself is assessed at slightly over $3 million.[16] It was reported by The Forward in 2007 that the organization was struggling financially and mortgaged its head office in order to raise $850,000 to meet expenses.[1]In 2015, the organization indefinitely suspended publication of Jewish Tribune and announced the sale of its heavily mortgaged headquarters at 15 Hove Street.



B'nai Brith Canada owned and operated the weekly Jewish Tribune as a subsidiary publication.[17] The newspaper claimed a circulation of over 62,000 copies a week which would make it the largest Jewish publication in Canada.[18] Publication was suspended in early 2015.[19]

Hezbollah terror designation[edit]

On November 29, 2002, B'nai Brith Canada sued the Canadian government for "failing to crack down on the fundraising efforts of Hezbollah", by not adding Hezbollah's charity wing to the list of banned terrorist organizations; the military wing of Hezbollah was already listed, but not the entire organization.[20] About a week later, Canada made the decision to designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.[21]

Anti-Hate Hotline[edit]

B'nai Brith Canada operates a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week 'Anti-Hate Hotline'. The hotline receives calls from those who feel they have suffered from antisemitism or discrimination and is one of the sources of the organisation's statistics for its Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents.

Radical Islam Advertisement[edit]

On November 9, 2009, B'nai Brith Canada ran a full page ad in the National Post comparing radical Islam with Nazism. Frank Dimant, CEO of B'nai Brith, said "overall, feedback from the ad has been very positive." At the same time, the ad drew the ire of the group Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims.[22]

Investigations of Antisemitism in the Media[edit]

B'nai Brith Canada has a notable track-record in uncovering instances of hate speech and antisemitism in the media. In February 2016, B'nai Brith exposed the Windsor, Ontario newspaper 'al Forqan' for calling terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as "sacred duty of jihad.[23]" In July 2016, B'nai Brith Canada, together with the London Police Services, exposed 'al-Saraha,' a London, Ontario newspaper for denying the Holocaust.[24]

Agencies and programs of B'nai Brith[edit]


  • 24-hour, 7-day-a-week Anti-Hate Hotline
  • Affordable Housing
  • Alzheimer's Residence, Toronto
  • Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents
  • Campus Outreach Program
  • Canadian Israel Public Affairs Committee (CIPAC)
  • Centre for Community Action
  • Communications Department
  • Community Volunteer Service Programs
  • Government Relations Office
  • Institute for International Affairs
  • Jewish Canada Information Service
  • League for Human Rights
  • Legal Desk
  • National Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research
  • Network of B'nai Brith Lodges
  • Operation Thank You: Educational Initiative Honouring Canadian Troops in Afghanistan
  • Sports Leagues
  • Young Leadership Development Groups


It was on B'nai Brith Canada's recommendation that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was awarded B'nai B'rith International's Presidential Gold Medal to honor what it described as his commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.[26]

Award-winning film producer Robert Lantos has been a long-time supporter of B'nai Brith Canada and in 2008 was awarded the organization's Award of Merit.[27] Among the other Canadian notables to have received the Award of Merit of B'nai Brith Canada are Lindsay Gordon, Blake Goldring, Frank Stronach, Tony Comper, Al Waxman, Wallace McCain, Lloyd Axworthy, Mayor Jean Drapeau, George Cohon, Leo Kolber, former Liberal Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin, hockey legend Jean Béliveau, Paul Tellier, former Ontario Premier Bill Davis, Ambassador Allan Gotlieb, Monty Hall, Izzy Asper, Guy Charbonneau, former Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon, former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Herb Gray, former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed, Edward Samuel "Ted" Rogers, former Alberta Premier Ernest Manning, and Calin Rovinescu.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d Gordon, Sheldon (November 12, 2007). "B'nai Brith Canada Faces Revolt". Forward. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  2. ^ Sara E. Karesh, Mitchell M. Hurvitz (2006). Encyclopedia of Judaism. Infobase Publishing. p. 61.
  3. ^ a b Selick, Abel (1964). History of B'nai B'rith in Eastern Canada. Montreal: Apex Press Limited. p. 118.
  4. ^ "Mostyn, Michael". Decision 2006 candidate bios. The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2019-02-24.
  5. ^ "B'nai Brith Canada to sell its national HQ". Canadian Jewish News. June 8, 2015. Archived from the original on July 1, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2010-06-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b c d e 'No basis' for B'nai Brith hate charge Archived 2014-01-03 at the Wayback Machine by Joseph Brean, National Post, March 12, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c B'nai Brith accused of hate speech by Joseph Brean, August 29, 2008.[dead link]
  10. ^ B’nai Brith Canada raises the alarm over Carleton’s reinstatement of alleged synagogue bomber (Canada) Archived 2012-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, B'nai Brith Canada. July 28, 2009.
  11. ^ B’nai Brith complaint preceded university’s job withdrawal Archived 2009-08-23 at the Wayback Machine, Edmonton Journal
  12. ^ Sep 26, CBC News · Posted:; September 26, 2008 11:43 AM ET | Last Updated:; 2008. "Liberals ask candidate to step down over 9/11 comments | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2019-02-24.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  13. ^ Jan 29, CBC News · Posted:; January 29, 2013 3:34 PM CT | Last Updated:; 2013. "Defamation lawsuit involving Winnipeg journalist settled | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2019-02-24.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  14. ^ Paul Lungen, "B’nai Brith expels members for ‘conduct unbecoming’", Canadian Jewish News
  15. ^ a b Donovan, Kevin (8 July 2015). "State of the art Alzheimer's facility in Toronto lacks money, patients". Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  16. ^ "B'nai B'rith Canada Plans To Sell Headquarters". Forward. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. July 9, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  17. ^ Jewish Tribune Archived 2010-01-07 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Jewish Tribune circulation Archived 2009-10-26 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "B'nai Brith Canada's weekly to suspend print edition". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. January 30, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  20. ^ B'nai Brith Sues Canadian Government Over Hezbollah, CTV News
  21. ^ https://www.meforum.org/meib/articles/0301_l3.htm
  22. ^ "B’nai Brith ad raises survivors’ ire", Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 12, 2009
  23. ^ http://www.torontosun.com/2017/02/17/time-to-get-serious-about-anti-semitism
  24. ^ http://www.bnaibrith.ca/2016_b_nai_brith_canada_s_year_in_review
  25. ^ B'nai Brith Canada
  26. ^ Prime Minister Stephen Harper awarded B’nai Brith Presidential Gold Medallion for Humanitarianism (Canada) Archived 2010-10-20 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Robert Lantos receives B'nai Brith Canada's Award of Merit (Canada) Archived 2010-09-18 at the Wayback Machine


  • Abella, Irving. A Coat of Many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada. Toronto: Lester Pub., 1990.
  • Tulchinsky, Gerald. Taking Root: The Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community. Toronto, Ont: Lester Pub., 1992.

External links[edit]