The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism began their investigative hearings yesterday. Gay Liberal MP Mario Silva chairs the CPCCA inquiry panel, and I caught up with him after Question Period today.
Q: Tell me about how the Anti-Semitism committee hearings are going.
A: It went extremely well. We had some very prominent individuals such as the Rt. Hon. Denis MacShane from the UK who headed the inquiry there, had great expertise on what’s happening, particularly in the European spheres. He was also the number two at the Foreign Office in the UK, and he has very strong information on what’s taking place in Europe, and some very disturbing information that he had to report as well. We had as well a former member of the Bundestag in Germany, Gert Weisskirchen, who also had some very interesting information on what’s happened in the European Parliament, and what’s happening in Europe, and his understanding of how Germany’s dealt with the issue of anti-Semitism as well. We had some leading professors who actually had a very good information session in the afternoon, and overall it was very well received. We had good attendance, and a lot of interest from a lot of people.
Q: Is the situation in Europe directly applicable to Canada?
A: It’s not so much about applying things – we are looking at the messy stuff, but we can’t forget about the global consequences, because we do live in a global village and it has impact on other countries and it has impact on us too. I think it’s important that we be vigilant, and I think it was said many times that it starts with anti-Semitism but it doesn’t end there. There are other communities such as gays and lesbians who are affected. Certainly during the Holocaust, gays and lesbians were affected and were murdered as well by the Nazis. I think the idea is to make sure that we’re always vigilant. I think all of us realise that we have one of the most amazing countries in the world. Canada certainly is by far and has dealt with the issues of hatred more effectively than other countries, but it doesn’t mean that we’re perfect. Sometimes we have to do a lot of work and that’s one reason the inquiry is looking at it, to propose some recommendations to the government can also look at it, and I think it can be a basis for other communities as well – to look at hate in those communities. This is a global phenomenon – the attacks on Jewish people and Jewish communities happen throughout the world, unfortunately. It’s a historical hatred as well, and it’s one that’s quite pervasive and pernicious, and very difficult sometimes to eradicate.