Manitoba Legislative Building
Manitoba Legislative BuildingiStock

The government of the Canadian province of Manitoba on Thursday adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

“Our government is proud to stand united with the Jewish community here in Manitoba and around the world,” said Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson in a statement. “Antisemitism has no place in our communities and today is an important step forward in our collective commitment to ensure we build an inclusive and safe society, and a future full of hope and opportunity for our future generations.”

“As antisemitic incidents in Canada continue to rise, the need to counter them is urgent,” said Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Andrew Smith. “By adopting this definition of antisemitism, we are empowering our policymakers, law enforcement agencies and community leaders with a critical framework they can use to identify, understand and combat contemporary forms of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, workplaces and religious spheres.”

The IHRA working definition offers a comprehensive description of antisemitism in its various forms, including hatred and discrimination against Jews, Holocaust denial and, sometimes controversially, the way antisemitism relates to the ways criticism of Israel is expressed.

Jewish leaders in Canada welcomed Manitoba’s move.

"We're thrilled that Manitoba has decided to follow Ontario and Alberta's decisions to adopt the IHRA definition," said Ruth Ashrafi, B’nai Brith Canada’s Regional Director, Manitoba. "We offer our expertise to aid the province in implementing the definition through the whole of government so that civil servants and law enforcement can better recognize and combat antisemitism. Today is just a beginning. The real work starts tomorrow."

"We have worked tirelessly to convince Manitoba to adopt IHRA," said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. "B’nai Brith collaborated with Wab Kinew, Leader of the Opposition, and Liberal Member Jon Gerrard to address the issue of an unacceptable jump in antisemitic incidents in Manitoba.”

“Premier Heather Stefanson’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism is a clear affirmation of the Manitoba government’s recognition of the surge in hate targeting Jews and the need to counter this rise,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

“Defining antisemitism is the first step in recognizing its manifestations, which is key to standing against it. Today, Manitoba joins governments across the country to say that enough is enough. Canadians cannot stand by and allow Jew-hatred to spread unchecked. This is especially important because history has repeatedly demonstrated that what begins with the Jews never ends with the Jews. This is a victory for all who stand against hate – no matter what group is the immediate target,” he added.

“Today, Premier Stefanson and the Government of Manitoba sent a strong message that antisemitism has no place in society,” said Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. “To combat antisemitism effectively, it must first be defined. The IHRA definition will help Manitobans identify and combat antisemitism in all its forms. With antisemitic hate crimes on the rise across the country, fighting antisemitism is a priority – not just for the Jewish community, but for all Manitobans and for all Canadians.”

More than half the states in the US have adopted or endorsed the IHRA definition, plus the District of Columbia, either as legislation or as an educational standard.

In addition to the federal government of Canada, the IHRA definition has been adopted by the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and New Brunswick.