Antisemitism spikes in Canada on the heels of elections

“I am disgusted and I am angry,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canada has experienced a sudden wave of antisemitic incidents since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an election in the country last Sunday. 

Over the past 48 hours antisemitic vandalism has targeted synagogues, schools and Jewish candidates in the upcoming federal election.

Candidates Rachel Bendayan and Anthony Housefather tweeted photos of campaign signs in their electoral districts defaced with swastikas on Tuesday.

“We’ve seen the road that the politics of the far right leads us to in the U.S. and around the world. That is not us. That is not our Canada,” Bendayan wrote in her tweet.

Bendayan and Housefather are campaigning in their ridings (districts): Outremont and Mount Royal. Both areas are home to significant Jewish communities.

“Pretty sad to see #antisemitism hitting the campaign on day 3,” Housefather tweeted. “I can assure whoever did this that no swastika is going to scare me or stop me from speaking up for Jewish Canadians.”

Prime Minister Trudeau responded to the incidents in a statement over Twitter.

“I am disgusted and I am angry,” he wrote. “It is completely unacceptable. I stand in solidarity with Rachel and Anthony, and the entire Jewish community, against this type of hatred.”

Other major party leaders spoke out against the incident on Wednesday.

Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole wrote, “Antisemitism and racism have no place in Canada, and I condemn these heinous acts.”

Leader of the NDP party, Jagmeet Singh, tweeted “This is not okay. Acts of Anti-Semitism glorify one of the most hateful ideologies in human history.” 

The Green Party’s Annamie Paul, who is also Jewish, said in a tweet that she was saddened to see the antisemitic graffiti. 

“Unfortunately antisemitism remains a constant companion for Jewish candidates on the campaign trail,” she wrote. “Silence emboldens hate and I applaud your resolve to speak out. I am committed to doing the same.”

On the heels of the vandalism in Montreal, antisemitic graffiti was also found in downtown Toronto and a midtown synagogue.

“This is the 4th incident in three days. We cannot be silent.” Ya’ara Saks, federal candidate for York Centre in Toronto, said in a Tweet.

Several Jewish advocacy organizations, including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), B’nai Brith Canada and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) have released statements condemning incidents.

“Stay vigilant and report hate incidents immediately to police and to us,” B’nai Brith said.

#Antisemitism is a danger to all Canadians and concrete action is needed to stop its rising tide,” CIJA wrote on Instagram. They’re encouraging Canadians to join their digital campaign against antisemitism called “Fight It.”