More than summits are needed to tackle hate

  • July 28, 2021

“Organizing summits is not enough.” This is the clear message sent on behalf of the Canadian Bar Association by its President Bradley D. Regehr to Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger and Justice Minister David Lametti.

The recent attack in London, Ont., where four members of a Muslim family were killed and a nine-year-old boy was critically injured by a man who drove his truck into them as they were out enjoying an evening walk, was not an isolated incident, Regehr writes. “It is part of a pattern of pervasive anti-Muslim hate in Canada. Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims regularly face verbal and physical attacks, threats, and attacks on their property.”

These attacks, coming less than five years after six worshippers were massacred at a Quebec City mosque, are on the rise. Antisemitic incidents are also, disturbingly, on the rise in Canada.

The CBA, Regehr says, is pleased to see the federal government hosting emergency summits on Islamophobia and antisemitism. But it must take swift action to address the concerns of affected communities.

“Governments must reflect on how laws and policies in Canada can perpetuate systemic discrimination,” Regehr’s letter reads. “Government inaction—such as the delay in enacting legislation on online hate—has made members of these communities more vulnerable.”

Last October the CBA commented on the need to reform the laws to better address issues related to hate – both online and in real life. “We would be happy to continue to offer our expertise on the justice issues related to combatting hate,” concludes Regehr.