ontario news watch

Canada’s new antisemitism envoy Deborah Lyons eyes campus and online anti-Jew speech

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government has appointed former ambassador Deborah Lyons as Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.

Lyons is Canada’s former ambassador to Israel and to Afghanistan, and she replaces former attorney general Irwin Cotler, who held the role for three years.

The role involves collecting data and speaking out for Jewish people when they are attacked within Canada and abroad, and similar roles exist for Muslims and LGBTQ+ people.

Lyons says she is concerned about a rise in hate speech targeting Jewish people, particularly on university campuses as well on social media.

While not Jewish herself, Lyons says it’s important that Canadians work together, including with Muslims, to weed out dehumanizing rhetoric and to learn from the horrors of the Holocaust.

Lyons declined to weigh in on whether Israel is respecting international humanitarian law in its current “total siege” of the Gaza Strip, saying she can advise the government privately but does not have a mandate to weigh in on geopolitics.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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