Kenney, Baird sign pledge to fight anti-Semitism

Two of Canada's most high-profile cabinet ministers added their names to a protocol against anti-semitism Monday in Ottawa.
Two of Canada's most high-profile cabinet ministers will sign onto a protocol against anti-semitism Monday in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Two of Canada's most high-profile cabinet ministers added their names to a protocol against anti-Semitism Monday in Ottawa.

The signing comes at the start of a week that will see the Durban III conference, the third in a series of a UN anti-racism conferences that Kenney says are used to promote anti-Semitism rather than combat racism.

It's also the week the Palestinians will ask to have a seat at the UN, a move Israel strongly opposes.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird signed a declaration known as the Ottawa Protocol Monday night in the capital. They're the first parliamentarians in the world to sign the document, which is expected to proceed to the UK, US and France.

"It's never a bad thing to be the first to do the right thing," Baird said.

Guests at the signing ceremony included Environment Minister Peter Kent, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who is on the steering committee for the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, the group that developed the document.

Kenney said Canada will continue to take a leadership role in fighting anti-Semitism.

"We stand in solidarity with the Jewish people and their democratic state," he told the House of Commons.

Cotler says the protocol is important because it defines anti-Semitism and outlines action that needs to be taken.

"This will serve actually as a template document for parliamentarians all over the world," he said.

The Ottawa Protocol was developed last November when 140 parliamentarians from 50 countries met in Ottawa for a meeting of the coalition. The protocol says the signatories "remain alarmed by ongoing state-sanctioned genocidal antisemitism and related extremist ideologies."

In a statement last year, Kenney said the document was a step in coordinating global efforts against hatred.

"Among other things, it calls for leaders of faith groups to combat all hatred and discrimination, including anti-Semitism; governments to reaffirm and implement the Genocide Convention; establishment of an international task force to identify and monitor hate on the Internet and; the development of a comprehensive facility to record all hate crimes, including anti-Semitism," he said.

Kenney will be in New York City later this week for an anti-Durban conference, an official told CBC News.