At the outset, we want to thank the committee for extending an invitation to B'nai Brith Canada and its League for Human Rights to appear before you.
I'll begin with a word about B'nai Brith Canada, introduce some of the members of the delegation, and give our position on the issue.
B'nai Brith Canada is the Jewish community's most senior organization. We have been operating in Canada since 1875. Our mandate is both to provide social services and advocate on behalf of the community. Through our League for Human Rights, we deal with domestic human rights issues. Through our Institute for International Affairs, we deal with the global issues of human rights and protection of human rights.
Today we have an interesting representation of our organization.
First of all, my name, just for the record, is Frank Dimant. I am the CEO of B'nai Brith Canada and its League for Human Rights and Institute for International Affairs.
We have brought along several key international and domestic experts on human rights, who are senior officers within our organization, to help enunciate the position of our organization after much deliberation. It was not an easy decision that we came to. We spoke for approximately one year in order to reach a consensus among all our various human rights activists across the country.
Our delegation, some of whom will speak and some of whom will be in the audience, consists of Eric Bissell, our national president, who has come from Montreal; Dr. Max Glassman, a national vice-president from Toronto; and Michael Mostyn, our chair for government relations. The two individuals here with me certainly do not, for some of you, need any kind of introduction. Dr. David Matas is our honorary senior legal counsel and is one of the world's greatest international human rights advocates. He represents B'nai Brith Canada and B'nai Brith International at numerous conventions and forums around the world. Finally, Marvin Kurz is senior legal counsel for the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada. He has been involved in virtually all of our major human rights issues and appearances before the courts, including the Supreme Court, for the last quarter of a century, if I am correct on that.
As I indicated to you, section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act has been a tool for B'nai Brith Canada throughout its years in fighting hate speech. We have appreciated that arrow in our quiver. We've needed that arrow. It's served an important role in fighting the hate-mongers in this country.
I just want to tell you that next week, B'nai Brith Canada will be releasing its audit of anti-Semitic incidents. Just to foreshadow it, I will tell you that the climate is not a good climate in the field. It is not. Therefore, we need all the kind of weaponry we can have in order to battle the hate-mongers.
However—however—as a progressive human rights organization, we recognize the misuse of this section and the hardships it has brought to individuals. Therefore, at this moment, we support the repeal of the section.
We want to make it clear that we come with a heavy heart. We do not come to the decision lightly. But based on our expertise and the expertise of numerous human rights activists across the country, the time is right for change.
However—as you will hear in a moment from my colleagues—that repeal by itself, without putting into place other safeguards, will be a disservice to the Canadian population in fighting the kind of hate-mongers who exist here.
We are exceptionally cognizant of what is happening in Europe and elsewhere. We try very hard to stop the tsunami of hate from Europe from coming to the shores of Canada. We need your support in ensuring that there are the legal protections to enable us to fight this kind of hatred that is certainly in the country now and, I must tell you, continues to grow.
I'm now going to ask David Matas to present for us.