TORONTO, August 18, 1999 - The vicious beating of two elderly Jewish men in Toronto last Friday is a cowardly act that must be condemned by all Canadians, says the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, chair of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
"I am calling on all Canadians to speak out against this vicious attack and to support the Jewish community," says Mr. Alexander, a former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. "We must not allow racists and hate groups to intimidate any member of our society."
He adds that if the perpetrators are arrested, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. "We need to get tough with racists and send them a strong message that hate-motivated violence won't be tolerated in our society."
Mr. Alexander urged the federal government to proceed with a package of amendments to the Criminal Code that would toughen Canada's hate crimes laws. According to media reports, federal and provincial justice ministers agreed to the changes during a meeting in Regina last fall.
The proposed changes include making possession of hate propaganda for the purpose of distribution a crime, and giving the police the power to seize computer hard drives containing hate propaganda. The package may also include specific new penalties for the desecration of places of worship, such as churches, synagogues and mosques.
"Our politicians and governments must play a leadership role in the fight against racism," says Mr. Alexander. "Enacting these changes into law would demonstrate that the federal government is serious about tackling hate."
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (www.crr.ca) opened its doors in November, 1997. It operates at arm's length from the federal government and works at the forefront of efforts to combat racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canada.