B’nai Brith Canada – Wikipedia

Posted By on December 5, 2016

B'nai Brith Canada (BBC) (English pronunciation: , from Hebrew: b'n brit, "Children of the Covenant")[2] is the Canadian section of B'nai B'rith (the Canadian organization uses no apostrophe in "B'rith"), the oldest Jewish service organization in the world. It is committed to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and combating antisemitism and bigotry.

The Mission of B'nai Brith Canada, as stated in the preamble to its constitution:

B'nai Brith has taken upon itself the mission of uniting person of the Jewish faith in the work of promoting their highest interest and those of humanity; of developing and elevating the mental and moral character of the people of our faith; of inculcating the purest principles of philanthropy, honour and patriotism; of supporting science and art; alleviating the wants of the poor and needy; visiting and caring for the sick; coming to the rescue of the victims of persecution; providing for, protecting and assisting the aged, the widow and the orphan on the broadest principles of humanity.[3]

Bnai Brith Canada has had a presence in this country since its earliest days, with roots stretching back to 1875. It is Canadian Jewrys most senior human rights advocacy organization and is the only national independent voice speaking out on behalf of grassroots Jewish Canadians.

In 1875, Lodge No. 246 was the first lodge founded in Toronto Canada, followed soon after by another in Montreal. Many community leaders were associated with these lodges. Over time, a team of dedicated volunteers and professional staff engaged in combating antisemitism, bigotry and racism in Canada and abroad in addition to wide-ranging educational and social programming, community and volunteer services, and human initiatives. These and other activities undertaken are meant to reflect the organizations commitment to People Helping People.[3]

Just as Bnai Brith has grown and evolved over the years in order to respond to the particular needs of the time, so has Canadian Jewry undergone many transformations. Throughout, Bnai Brith has consistently employed its successful advocacy model of strong community, results-oriented grassroots activism.

In the first two decades of the 20th century B'nai B'rith launched three of today's major Jewish organizations: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Hillel and BBYO (originally B'nai B'rith Youth Organization). Later they would take on a life of their own with varying degrees of autonomy.

In January 2004, Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association, filed a formal complaint against B'nai Brith Canada under the "discriminatory signs and statements" section of the Manitoba Human Rights Code. After speaking with several people who attended a Winnipeg conference on terrorism hosted by B'nai Brith Canada in October 2003, she wrote that the event was biased against Muslims and would encourage the response teams in attendance to engage in racial profiling. The Manitoba Human Rights Commission (MHRC) accepted the complaint and began an investigation that would last five years. In 2009, the MHRC issued a report that dismissed the complaint due to a lack of evidence.[4] MHRC vice-chairwoman Yvonne Peters subsequently wrote that "the full investigation of the complaint that took place was warranted" and that "the decision was based solely on the insufficiency of the evidence with respect to this particular section of the Human Rights Code."[4][5]

In 2008, David Matas, B'nai Brith's senior counsel, sharply criticized the MHRC for its conduct during the investigation, stating that:

"The [Manitoba] Human Rights Commission itself is supposed to be promoting human rights, but in our view in this process it's violating some pretty basic rights: a secret proceeding, a faceless accuser, failure to disclose documents. These are basic procedural rights that are being violated."[5]

Writing in the National Post, Joseph Brean made several criticisms of the investigation:

Following the release of the MHRC report, Matas accused MHRC vice-chairwoman Yvonne Peters of taking a contradictory position, stating that:

"So what they're saying is that a full investigation is warranted even when there's no evidence, as long as the accusation is within the jurisdiction of the board. There's a lot of problems with this. What basically happened is that Siddiqui heard a rumour. She makes a complaint, as a result of which the commission goes on a five-year fishing expedition. They don't find anything. We're co-operating with them. And then they dismiss the complaint. That's not a proper procedure, in my view."[4]

Matas also criticized the procedures of the MHRC, stating that they will "take an allegation, without evidence, and just run with it to see if it's true." The previous year, Matas in a submission in a Moon Report on Internet hate speech, Matas charged that Canada's human rights commissions have demonstrated "a disastrous combination of investigative zeal and substantive ignorance." Although Matas stated that he does not believe Siddiqui acted in bad faith, he added that:

"The people who run these procedures have to have a more objective viewpoint than the people who make the complaint."[4]

In July 2009, B'nai Brith Canada issued a press release[6] denouncing Carleton University for hiring Hassan Diab, who was alleged by French authorities to have been responsible for the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing. Diab was living under virtual house arrest at the time (he had been granted bail but under very strict conditions) due to an extradition request from France. Diab, who has denied any involvement with the synagogue bombing, has not been convicted of any crime. Within a few hours of the B'nai Brith Canada complaint, Carleton University announced that it would immediately replace the current instructor, Hassan Diab" in order to provide students with a stable, productive academic environment that is conducive to learning. Bnai Brith executive vice-president Frank Dimant later stated that "the university did the right thing.[7]

On November 9, 2009, B'nai Brith Canada ran a full page ad in the National Post comparing radical Islam with Nazism. Frank Dimant, CEO of B'nai Brith, said "overall, feedback from the ad has been very positive." At the same time, the ad drew the ire of the group Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims.[8]

In September 2014, Ontario lawyer Michael Mostyn was appointed CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, succeeding Frank Dimant upon his retirement after 36 years with the organization. In 2015, the organization indefinitely suspended publication of Jewish Tribune and announced the sale of its heavily mortgaged headquarters at 15 Hove Street.[9]

In 2007, a group calling itself Concerned Members of Bnai Brith Canada charged that a new constitution had been passed despite a majority of members having voted against it at a general meeting. Henry Gimpel, a former Toronto lodge president, told The Forward that "[t]heres too much of [Bnai Brith Canada] being run by one person.[1] Frank Dimant, CEO of BBC, responded to the criticism over the constitution by saying that BBC followed proper governance procedures and that B'nai Brith International's Court of Appeal determined that the constitution was properly enacted. Gimpel and seven other BBC members were expelled in June 2008 for what a disciplinary committee determined to be "conduct unbecoming a member." Gimpel referred to the committee as a kangaroo court.[10]

On July 8, 2015, the Toronto Star reported that Dimant has demanded an annual retirement payout of $175,000, representing 75% of his former salary, which the B'nai Brith believes is too lucrative and will require the struggling charity to direct fundraising dollars to pay for Dimant's pension. Dimant has stated that the payout was approved by the organization's board, however, the Star cites an unnamed source as stating that the deal was arranged with little oversight while Dimant was still in charge. In the year following Dimant's retirement, B'nai Brith Canada put its "state of the art" care facility for Alzheimer's patients under insolvency protection while also trying to sell it. The project, initiated and led by Dimant, is a $16 million facility opened in 2013 but that been unable to attract enough patients, due to high fees for patients of $7,500 a month and the fact that it was not designed to be wheelchair accessible; the facility is losing $50,000 a month and owes $11 million to creditors.[11]

The Toronto Star article also claimed that other issues left by Dimant's former management of B'nai Brith are a lack of records and record keeping and failure to always issue charitable tax receipts and poor corporate governance with approximately 50 people who had believed they were on various boards of B'nai Brith organizations learning that this is not the case, as Dimant's management had failed to file the correct paperwork with government agencies.[11]

Due to financial difficulties, including a decline in charitable donations in recent years, B'nai Brith also ceased publication of its newspaper, Jewish Tribune in 2015, and is selling its headquarters which carries two mortgages totalling nearly $4 million, though the building itself is assessed at slightly over $3 million.[12] It was reported by The Forward in 2007 that the organization was struggling financially and mortgaged its head office in order to raise $850,000 to meet expenses.[1]

According to an article in The Forward, B'nai Brith Canada had 4,000 full-dues paying members in 2007.[1]

B'nai Brith Canada owned and operated the weekly Jewish Tribune as a subsidiary publication.[13] The newspaper claimed a circulation of over 62,000 copies a week which would make it the largest Jewish publication in Canada.[14] Publication was suspended in early 2015.[15]

On November 29, 2002, B'nai Brith Canada sued the Canadian government for "failing to crack down on the fundraising efforts of Hezbollah", by not adding Hezbollah's charity wing to the list of banned terrorist organizations; the military wing of Hezbollah was already listed, but not the entire organization.[16] About a week later, Canada made the decision to designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.[17]

B'nai Brith Canada operates a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week 'Anti-Hate Hotline'. The hotline receives calls from those who feel they have suffered from antisemitism or discrimination and is one of the sources of the organisation's statistics for its Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. The hotline can be reached at 1-800-892-BNAI (2624).

Centre for Community Action Affordable Housing Community Volunteer Service Programs League for Human Rights 24-hour, 7-day-a-week Anti-Hate Hotline Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents Institute for International Affairs Canadian Israel Public Affairs Committee (CIPAC) Government Relations Office National Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research Operation Thank You: Educational Initiative Honouring Canadian Troops in Afghanistan Communications Department Legal Desk Campus Outreach Program Young Leadership Development Groups Network of B'nai Brith Lodges Sports Leagues Jewish Canada Information Service Alzheimer's Residence, Toronto

It was on B'nai Brith Canada's recommendation that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was awarded B'nai B'rith International's Presidential Gold Medal to honor what it described as his commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.[19]

Award-winning film producer Robert Lantos has been a long-time supporter of B'nai Brith Canada and in 2008 was awarded the organization's Award of Merit.[20] Among the other Canadian notables to have received the Award of Merit of B'nai Brith Canada are Lindsay Gordon, Blake Goldring, Frank Stronach, Tony Comper, Al Waxman, Wallace McCain, Lloyd Axworthy, Mayor Jean Drapeau, George Cohon, Leo Kolber, former Liberal Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin, hockey legend Jean Bliveau, Paul Tellier, former Ontario Premier Bill Davis, Ambassador Allan Gotlieb, Monty Hall, Surjit Babra and Walter Arbib, Izzy Asper, Guy Charbonneau, former Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon, former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Herb Gray, former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed, Edward Samuel "Ted" Rogers, former Alberta Premier Ernest Manning, and Calin Rovinescu.

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B'nai Brith Canada - Wikipedia

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