Irwin Cotler
Irwin CotlerReuters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday announced the reappointment of former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler as Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. This reappointment is for a term of up to one year, Trudeau’s office said in a statement.

Cotler was originally appointed to the role in November 2020. Last month, Trudeau announced that the role will become permanent and that Cotler's office will be supported by dedicated resources.

“As Special Envoy, Mr. Cotler plays a critical role in advancing our work on combatting antisemitism at home and abroad and preserving Holocaust remembrance. This includes his leadership of the Government of Canada’s delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). In the first year of his role, Mr. Cotler moved forward on a number of priorities, including co-convening the National Summit on Antisemitism and supporting the Canadian delegation to the Malmö International Forum and Canada’s Pledges on Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism,” the statement from Trudeau’s office said.

“In this continued role, he will contribute his vast experience to the strengthening and promotion of Holocaust education, remembrance, and research, at home and abroad. He will also keep advocating and supporting outreach efforts with Canadians, civil society, Parliamentarians, and academia to advance the adoption and implementation of the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism in Canada and internationally,” it added.

“Antisemitism is still a lived experience for Jewish communities in Canada and around the world, and its new and resurgent forms require constant vigilance and action. The Government of Canada remains unwavering in its commitment to challenge antisemitism, hatred, and racism wherever and whenever they occur. By learning from our past, we can build a more just and inclusive future for everyone,” the statement added.

“Antisemitism has no place in Canada or anywhere else, and we will always stand with Jewish communities to fight hatred in all its forms. As Special Envoy, Mr. Cotler will continue to ensure that the painful lessons of the Holocaust and the memories of those who lived through it are never forgotten. Only through effective education, research, and remembrance can we foster a society free of prejudice and discrimination,” said Trudeau.

The Canadian government recently published its pledge to tackle anti-Semitism as presented at the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.

The document includes a government pledge “to combat anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and distortion, hate crimes and all other forms of racism and to protect at-risk communities.”

Canada also pledges to promote awareness about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in Canada and to continue supporting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and to promoting the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism.

Canada has seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years. In late March, Statistics Canada released its annual survey of police-reported hate crimes which found that Jews have remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada.

The Statistics Canada report found that there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

In April, B’nai Brith Canada released its Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which found that anti-Semitic incidents in Canada have increased 18 percent since 2019.

The study affirms that Canadian Jews remain the most targeted religious group in the country.