1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 121

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

Canadian Jewish Heritage Month Bill

Third Reading

Leave having been given to revert to Other Business, Senate Public Bills, Third Reading, Order No. 3:

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Frum, seconded by the Honourable Senator Seidman, for the third reading of Bill S-232, An Act respecting Canadian Jewish Heritage Month.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise to speak on the Jewish heritage bill. I want to first thank Senator Frum for bringing this bill to the chamber and also Senator Wetston for giving me the opportunity to be the critic.

As I said in second reading, when we celebrated the Asian Heritage Month, we highlighted the different aspects of the various Asian countries that are represented in our country. The same kind of thing needs to happen with other communities. I believe that when we come to know each other and when we come to know each other’s values and cultures, it only makes our country stronger. That’s why I’m in favour of this bill.

Honourable senators, I just came back from the opening of the Global Centre for Pluralism. It really excited me. It was an amazing vision of His Highness the Aga Khan, where he talks about difference being our strength.

I will quote what he said today:

Diversity is not a reason to put up walls but, rather, to open windows. It is not a burden; it is a blessing.

That is how I feel about this Jewish heritage bill. I believe that if we come to know each other, we will become stronger.

Honourable senators, one of the nicest things about the bringing of Syrian refugees to our country is how various groups have come together and supported Syrian refugees. In my city of Vancouver, the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities have come together with sponsored families. I want to specifically recognize Rabbi Dan Moskovitz of Temple Shalom who has led the way in bringing many Syrian families to our city. The work that they have done in bringing these Syrian families truly makes me believe that there is a lot of work that we can do as politicians, and as Canadians, to bring our communities together.

Honourable senators, I believe that this bill will empower and create further respect for the Jewish community, and I believe that this is a very important bill.

When I was a young child, my father often spoke nostalgically about how Jewish and Muslim communities used to get together and he would say to me: “We used to be brothers and sisters, and now look what’s happening.”

In 2002, Mr. Chrétien appointed me the Envoy for Women, Peace and Security. As Canada’s Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, I had the opportunity to go many times to Palestine and to Israel. The Canadian government held round tables with Palestinian and Israeli women, bringing women together to create a dialogue. Mr. Chrétien often used to tell me that he truly believes it will be the Jewish and Muslim women in this country that will help to bring peace with Jewish and Muslim and Israeli women in the Middle East. I believe that too.

After the Liberal Party lost power, I was often invited as a guest of the Israeli and Palestinian governments to go back. We held many round tables in Haifa at the Golda Meir Center, and what I learned from that experience is that it doesn’t matter what our differences are, but how we respect each other and how we work with each other. The first thing we have to do is start the dialogue. I spoke last time about the great cultural history of Jewish people in the past. Now I am speaking about how Senator Frum and myself will work together as Canadians to improve the lives of people around the world, and that’s why I believe in this bill.

Senators, I ask you to support this bill. I ask you to support this bill because I believe the time has come when all Canadians should understand the rich culture of the Jewish community in Canada.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)