Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 60

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Liberal Party of Canada Convention

Anti-Semitic Comments

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I would like to speak of anti-Semitism in our society. Many of us were greatly distressed by the treatment of Bob Rae and Arlene Perly Rae at the recent Liberal leadership convention in Montreal, where anti-Semitic remarks were made against two very outstanding Canadians.

Honourable senators, I believe that in our Canada these types of remarks are absolutely unacceptable. In our Canada, there is no place for such anti-Semitic statements. I know that all senators will join me in letting the very small minorities know by words and deeds that we do not accept such behaviour.

I am a great fan of the Raes. I have had the opportunity to work with Bob Rae on a number of occasions. He aided me when I was Canada’s Envoy for Peace in Sudan. He went to Khartoum and held workshops on federalism. I can attest to the fact that to this day, Sudanese from all walks of life want Bob Rae to return and continue working with them.

I then saw Bob Rae’s work on the Air India inquiry. He single-handedly empowered the victims of Canada’s worst act of terrorism, victims from diverse backgrounds.

In the last 10 months, I have worked closely with Arlene Perly Rae and her commitment to our country has been truly tremendous.

Senator Grafstein has a motion before the Senate on anti-Semitism, and, when I speak, I will detail some of the challenges faced by my community in Vancouver.

Honourable senators, a time has come when all of us here and all Canadians must make it clear that in our Canada we are like needles that sew together the diversity of our country into one harmonious fabric. We do not accept those who act as scissors that destroy the fabric of our society.

We all remember the wise words of Reverend Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the communists, but I wasn’t a communist — so I didn’t speak out.

Then they came for Jews, but I wasn’t Jewish — so I didn’t speak out.

Then they came for Catholics, but I was a Protestant — so I didn’t speak out.

Then they came for me, and there was nobody left to speak out.

Honourable senators, I know you will join with me in saying that, in our Canada, we do not accept anti-Semitism, we do not tolerate it and there is no place for it in our country. Honourable senators, we must all speak out against anti-Semitic behaviour.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!