MP Levitt Quits Politics to Take Over FSWC

Aug. 5, 2020 –

Toronto-area Liberal Member of Parliament Michael Levitt has announced he is retiring from politics to become president and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC).

Levitt has represented the riding of York Centre since 2015, when he defeated Conservative Mark Adler. He was re-elected in last year’s federal vote. His final day as an MP will be Sept. 1.

In a message to his constituents posted on Facebook, Levitt said the job of MP in Ottawa took a toll on his personal life.

“It hasn’t been without consequence to those I love most, and while it is an incredible privilege to serve the people of York Centre, I know deep down that now is the time for me to put family first and come back home, both physically and mentally,” he said.

Despite that, he said he “loved every minute” of political life. “…it has been the adventure of a lifetime.”

Among a handful of Jewish MPs, Levitt chaired the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group; the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development; and the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights.

He will replace Avi Benlolo as head of the FSWC. No reason was given for Benlolo’s departure from the organization earlier this summer.

“FSWC is excited to welcome Michael Levitt as President and CEO,” the group’s chair, Fred Waks, said in a press release. “As the Member of Parliament for York Centre, Michael is deeply rooted in the community and his work in the fields of foreign affairs and human rights has garnered him respect from advocates at home and abroad. His distinguished career advocating for human rights, and his support for Israel and the fight against antisemitism, bring a high level of leadership and profile to our organization. We could not be more excited for the future.”

As an MP, Levitt frequently spoke out on Israel and issues of concern to Canada’s Jews, co-sponsoring a 2018 bill to make May of each year Canadian Jewish Heritage Month.

He was visible when Canada said it would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, and he often addressed anti-Jewish incidents in the country.

But Levitt found himself on the defensive last autumn when Ottawa abruptly changed its vote on a resolution at the United Nations to oppose Israel, which filed a diplomatic complaint against Canada.

Levitt was also a member of the Raoul Wallenberg Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights. Before entering politics, he helped found the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee.

In the FSWC statement, Levitt said he plans “to continue the organization’s proud legacy and the work I’ve done over the past five years in fighting antisemitism and promoting human rights, including bringing a renewed focus to the issue of systemic racism in Canada and how we can work together to address it.”

His appointment earned praise from former justice minister and international human rights advocate Irwin Cotler, who said Levitt’s “extensive experience and expertise dovetail perfectly with the mission and purpose of [FSWC], acting on the universal lessons of the Holocaust – combating racism and antisemitism and safeguarding Israel and the Jewish people.”

According to iPolitics, Levitt’s departure will trigger the first byelection of the current Parliament and will be the first during the COVID pandemic.

– CJR Staff

Elections Canada ‘Agnostic’ on Party Platforms – Even When They’re Antisemitic

July 15, 2020 – This week, the CJR queried Elections Canada about whether the agency will strip the status of the far-right Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP) or warn it against engaging in antisemitic rhetoric.

As noted in our editorial of July 15, the leader of the party, Trevor Patron, recently re-uploaded a video to social media (first posted last year) in which he called for “that parasitic tribe” to be “removed from Canada once and for all.”

Patron’s rant about “swindlers,” “snakes,” and “inside manipulators” – as well as a subsequent reference to “the synagogue of Satan” – “make his antisemitic agenda crystal clear,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs stated.

A flier posted on the CNP’s Facebook page is titled “Beware The Parasitic Tribe.” It includes quotations from the New Testament amid references to “inside manipulators” and stating, “everywhere these people go, they infiltrate the media, they hijack the central bank, and they infect the body politic like a parasite.

“If they had their way, our entire way of life would be eradicated.”

Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer conferred official party status on the CNP in September of last year. In the last federal election, the party ran three candidates and received 284 votes in all.

The following is the response from Elections Canada:

The Canada Elections Act, as drafted and enacted by Parliament, is agnostic when it comes to ideology or platform. Just as there is no mechanism under the Act allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to reject a new party’s application solely based on their [sic] ideology, there’s no legal mechanism that allows him to deregister a party for any reason not explicitly listed in the Act. Under the Act, a party can only be involuntarily deregistered (that is, not at the party’s own request) for the following reasons:

• A party will be deregistered if it fails to endorse a confirmed candidate at a general election. If a registered party is deregistered, its registered associations are also deregistered.

• The CEO may also deregister a registered party if it fails to:

¬ file statements confirming or amending the information in the Registry of Political Parties within 10 days of the writs being issued

¬ report on or before June 30 each year, confirming or amending the party’s information in the Registry of Political Parties

¬ report any changes to the information about the party in the Registry of Political Parties within 30 days of the change

¬ file an audited statement of its assets and liabilities within six months of its registration

¬ file the party’s audited financial transactions return for each fiscal period within six months of the end of the fiscal period

¬ file the party’s audited general election expenses return within eight months of election day

¬ file a statement setting out the dates of a leadership contest, varying the dates or cancelling the contest or

¬ file a report on a nomination contest within 30 days of the selection date


There are other pieces of legislation and frameworks that regulate the behaviour and discourse of individuals and groups in Canada, including the Criminal Code, but these are outside Elections Canada’s mandate. 

Kind regards,
Natasha Gauthier
Spokesperson, Media Relations 
Elections Canada
media@elections.ca 

EDITORIAL: Elections Canada Must Shut Down Neo-Nazi Parties

July 15, 2020 – Trevor Patron is at it again. This obscure Prairie citizen from Redvers, Sask., has doubled down on his antisemitism.

From a low last year, when he railed against the “parasitic tribe” (read: Jews) for all of Canada’s imagined problems, this week, in another outburst of Jew-hatred, Patron is calling for the expulsion of Jews from the country. His screed regurgitates the pattern of all past antisemites who sought the ouster of Jews from their midst.

But this is not news. In fact, Patron would not even be worth a mention if it weren’t for this: He is the leader of a political party officially recognized by Elections Canada.

That’s right. In September 2019, Stephane Perrault, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, informed Patron that the Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP) had become a registered political party in Canada.

“Your party now has all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of a registered party under the Canada Elections Act,” Perrault wrote Patron.

This permits Patron’s fledgling band of ne’er-do-wells to run in federal elections and to receive a 75 percent tax return on any donation to the party.

(It might be some consolation to know that the CNP fielded three candidates in the last federal election and received 284 votes in total; statistically, zero percent of ballots cast).

Equally as important, Patron, as a result of a complaint laid by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) on June 26, 2019 (full disclosure: Bernie Farber, publisher of the CJR is chair of CAHN) to the Saskatchewan RCMP, Patron has been under investigation for promotion of hatred against Jews for over a year.

Yes, you read that, too, correctly: Since June of last year.

It seems incredible that the RCMP has been unable since then to reach a conclusion as to whether Patron has breached section 319 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which plainly outlines what public incitement to hatred is.

We would argue that Patron’s unsubtle words and deeds surely warrant quick and deliberate findings.

Following the June 2019 CAHN complaint, B’nai Brith Canada also wrote to the RCMP declaring its outrage, and yet the investigation continues.

Last week, following Patron’s second video, the CAHN sent another letter to the RCMP:

Dear Constable Howe,

Further to my criminal complaint against Travis PATRON filed 26 June 2019, I am writing to bring to your attention further anti-Jewish material that PATRON has published today through his Canadian Nationalist Party Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pg/NationalistCA/posts/) again repeatedly referring to Jews as parasites, members of the “synagogue of Satan,” that Jews control the central banks, and that they “infect the body politic like a parasite.”

The apparent pamphlet ends with the call, “And what we need to do, perhaps more than anything, is remove these people once-and-for-all from our country.”

I understand that criminal hate propaganda complaints are not commonplace, but the community as a whole and our Jewish brothers and sisters especially have the right to be protected from this corrosive poison and threats in a timely manner.  These are the types of messages that have already been found to meet the test for breaching the Criminal Code.

I urge the RCMP in the strongest possible terms to charge Travis PATRON under s. 319(2) of the Criminal Code for the wilful promotion of hatred against the Jewish community.

I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible,

Richard Warman
Barrister and Solicitor
Ottawa

This past week both the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) along with Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, have followed the lead of CAHN and laid complaints with Saskatchewan RCMP.

The time has come. Canada should be following the example set by Germany, which has developed law ensuring that anti-democratic groups may not gain official political party status.

While Patron and company have displayed almost no political support, it takes far less for those with hate in their hearts to create havoc. Neo-Nazis ought not to be given any respect in this country, and those who violate Canadian hate law should be charged.