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Alberta adopts working definition of antisemitism amid 'hate and violence'

A working definition of antisemitism has been adopted by the Alberta government. 

The definition has been adopted by several other provinces

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks at a press conference Friday. The province has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism. (Province of Alberta)

A working definition of antisemitism has been adopted by the Alberta government. 

On Friday, the province adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which states — in part — that Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy theories fall under the realm of antisemitism.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said having a working definition can help with investigations of hate crimes due to a better understanding of what qualifies as antisemitism.

"Sadly, incidents of hate and violence directed at religious and ethnic groups have demonstrated a need for programs and supports aimed at protecting the targets of hate in our communities," Shandro said. 

Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith Canada said it applaud the move, as an audit done by the organization showed an increase in antisemitism in Canada between 2020 and 2021. 

Fourteen per cent of hate crimes in the country have targeted Canadians who are Jewish, said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. 

"This will inform government policy as we work with the Jewish community, with police agencies and others to redouble our efforts to combat antisemitism in our own society," Kenney said. 

"I personally have been concerned to see some of these expressions of antisemitism associated with conspiracy theories that have been circulating, particularly during the COVID era … too often I've seen, implicitly or explicitly, the Jewish community brought in to the frame of those conspiracy theories."

IHRA's definition says manifestations of antisemitism might include the targeting of the state of Israel. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country is not antisemitic. 

The definition has been adopted by the federal government. Several other provinces — Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario — have also adopted or endorsed the definition.

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