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Stèle_ancienne_synagogue_renversée_par_une_auto_2_mars_2019 by Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons - cc-by-sa-4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

When Antisemitism Strikes Close to Home

In the 269 days since October 7th, at least 12 synagogues and 18 Jewish schools and community centres have been attacked or vandalized in Canada. The latest two synagogue attacks took this place this weekend in Toronto, which struck particularly close to home since one of the targets – the Pride of Israel synagogue – has been my family’s synagogue for decades. It was where I had my bar mitzvah, where my mother served as President of the Sisterhood committee, and where we attended annual high holiday services. The Pride of Israel did not start as a synagogue. It was founded in 1905 as a sick benefit society to provide medical aid to its members, primarily Jewish immigrants newly arrived in Canada. Much like the Jewish immigrant community, it gradually moved north, first as a synagogue on Spadina in the 1940s and later to its current location near Steeles and Bathurst.

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July 1, 2024 3 comments News
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Government’s Choice for Chief of Human Rights Commission Cited Terrorism as a Rational Strategy With High Rates of Success

The government’s choice for chief of the Canadian Human Rights Commission has been mired in controversy this week given his failure to disclose a record of posts and appearances that call into question the ability for Jewish or Zionist Canadians to get a fair, impartial hearing at the Commission. Birju Dattani, who formerly was known as Mujahid Dattani, is now the subject of an independent investigation by the Ministry of Justice as the calls for his resignation or replacement from stakeholder groups continue to mount, former Justice Minister David Lametti questions his suitability for the position, and MPs express non-confidence in him.

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June 29, 2024 5 comments News
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Virani’s Failed Human Rights Commission Choice: Why the Dattani Appointment Irreparably Harms both the Commission and Bill C-63

Justice Minister Arif Virani and the federal government spent years crafting Bill C-63, the Online Harms Act. After facing widespread criticism on the initial plans in 2021, the government consulted extensively before tabling a revised bill in February 2024 that ditched much of its previous thinking in favour of a more flexible “duty to act responsibly” for Internet platforms. Like many, I’ve argued that the Internet provisions in that bill are much improved and provide a good starting point for dealing with a real issue. However, mounting concerns about the inclusion of Criminal Code and Human Rights Act reforms – alongside doubts about enforcement – have sparked fears that the bill could be used to suppress lawful speech with all three opposition parties expressing concern about the bill’s current structure.

Given the concerns, the government has an uphill battle building public trust in the legislation of which enforcement is a critical component. In short, if Canadians do not trust the two agencies charged with enforcing the law – a future Digital Safety Commission and the current Canadian Human Rights Commission – then no amount of tinkering will save the government’s legislative plans.

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June 27, 2024 4 comments News
Arif Virani Holodomor by Mykola Swarnyk, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Government Appoints New Chief of Canadian Human Rights Commission Who Linked To Articles Comparing Israelis to Nazis, Called for Israel Boycott, and Shared Platform With Banned Organization

The Globe and Mail features a bombshell story today on a recent government appointment of the chief of the Canadian Human Rights Commission that not only calls into question its vetting process, but the fairness of the body charged with addressing online hate in Bill C-63. Less than two weeks ago, Justice Minister Arif Virani announced that Birju Dattani had been appointed as Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission for five years. The position is particularly important at this moment given the proposed changes to the Canada Human Rights Act in the Online Harms bill that would expand the scope of Commission work on online hate, including the prospect of dealing with thousands of complaints. Yet what the release did not say is that Birju Dattani once went by the name Mujahid Dattani. Search under that name and it reveals a deeply troubling record of posts and appearances that call into question the ability for Jewish or Zionist Canadians to get a fair, impartial hearing at the Commission.

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June 25, 2024 29 comments News
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 207: The State of Digital Law and Policy in Canada as Parliament Breaks for the Summer

Parliament adjourned for the summer last week, meaning both the House of Commons and Senate are largely on hold until mid-September. The Law Bytes podcast focuses intensively on Canadian legislative and digital policy developments and with another Parliamentary year in the books, this week’s episode takes a look back and take stock of where things stand. It features discussion on the implementation of the Internet streaming and news bills (C-11 and C-18) as well as an analysis of the current state of privacy, AI, online harms, and digital tax as found in Bills C-27, C-63, C-69, S-210 and C-27.

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June 24, 2024 0 comments Podcasts