Dear Friends and Neighbours,
We in Toronto-St. Paul’s, are increasingly alarmed by the rise of antisemitism in Canada and around the world.
When I first ran for public office, at many doors I was asked the question ‘Have you ever been to Israel?’ I must say I didn’t understand at that time that they weren’t asking about tourism destinations; they were wanting to know if I understood the importance of that small democratic country surrounded by countries that did not agree with its existence.
I grew up immersed in the Jewish community, from customers at our family flower shop needing the deliveries before sundown on the holidays, to my Brownie pack at Forest Hill United Church and summer camp where we all learned the song Shalom Chaverim, which we knew was about peace, although we didn’t know it was about hoping friends and family would come home.
I grew up not knowing what the absence of peace feels like. I grew up never targeted by hatred or discrimination because of my race or religion, at a time where many thought it was fine to use derogatory words to describe a population. I don’t think I really understood how much those racial and religious slurs hurt people. I did know they made me uncomfortable. Israel is home to Jewish people. I remember one PRIDE week when a friend of mine explained the bond and support of the Jewish Community –‘we were together in the ghetto’.
I have been to Israel eight times. On each of the first two visits as Chair of the Canada-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, I was able to take one of my sons. We felt the insecurity and heard first-hand how desperately they sought peace. They don’t want their sons and daughters to have to go to war. They want the terrorism to stop. They want a good life for the Palestinian people. They believe and seek Tikkun Olam.
I went to Israel with PM Jean Chrétien for his Honourary degree. I was inspired as part of the delegation of the Young Leaders Program. A program that is run through the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs offering Canadian student leaders the opportunity to learn about Israel through first-hand experience.
In 2000, I led a delegation of over twenty Parliamentarians during an April long weekend in solidarity with Israel during the Second Intifada. Our movements were very limited. We didn’t feel safe. For the first time, I felt what it was like to not take peace and security for granted.
As Minister of State (Public Health) I led a delegation to learn from Israelis about emergency preparedness.
During the Gaza war in the summer of 2014, I joined another delegation in solidarity with Israel. I stayed a few days longer to join our Special Representative to listen and try to understand the possibility of peace.
The recent horrific anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic events have raised the consciousness of all Canadians. I have heard from Jewish students who have explained the fear they felt as they had to walk by BDS displays at their universities.
Therapeutic leadership was demonstrated by Rabbi Splansky with the Ring of Peace around the Imdadul Islamic Centre after the Quebec Mosque shooting, and by the Imams at the reciprocal Ring of Peace around Beth Tzedec and Holy Blossom after the Pittsburgh shootings. We continue to come together to share the goal of the elimination of hate and discrimination.
One of my favourite destinations in Israel has always been the Museum on the Seam in East Jerusalem dedicated to dialogue, understanding and co-existence. The New York Times has called it ‘one must see before I die’. Its rooftop view is breathtaking. Its focus on equality, human rights and diversity are shared with Israeli schoolchildren and all those who come to visit physically or virtually.
The Hon. Irwin Cotler has always said that it is important to listen to one another’s narrative. All those who have the narrow David and Goliath view of the situation in the Middle East need to think of the Israeli children in the bomb shelters, just as they think of the innocent Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire. The Palestinian people are suffering. We need to support them in order to reduce the support for terrorist organizations such as Hamas who do not seek peace.
Now is the time. Canada has the opportunity to lead the world in dialogue and peace. Ambassador Bob Rae is doing a truly amazing job at the U.N. breaking down stereotypes and speaking on the Canadian principles of peace, order and good governance.
Everyone needs to feel safe. Swastikas on Muskoka chairs in Downsview Park have no place in the Canada we love. Islamophobia has no place in this country, home to so many. We have to root out the haters. There have to be consequences.
We are so grateful for the leadership of my friend and colleague Ya’ara Saks. She is there in dialogue with the Jewish and Arab Parliamentarians. We are making progress in listening to one another’s narratives. Canada can help show the way. As Bono said, ‘the world needs more Canada’.
I want to thank the inspiring Jewish community leaders who joined my colleagues Ya'ara Saks, Rob Oliphant, MP Marco Mendicino and I for a roundtable on combatting antisemitism on June 30. We are grateful for this important dialogue as we work together to combat this issue.
Our Toronto-St. Paul’s riding is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in our country and every single person should be able to feel safe because there’s absolutely no place for hatred and antisemitism in Canada.
Hon. Carolyn Bennett
Member of Parliament for Toronto-St. Paul's
Pride Season continues as we say farewell to June, an inspiring month noting Pride and also National Indigenous Peoples Month.
I am so proud of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ Sub-Working Group’s contribution to the MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ National Action Plan. Their chapter should be a textbook for all Canadians, and especially non-Indigenous peoples, who had been persuaded that gender diversity was somehow not normal. Their chapter is so important, explaining how, as Knowledge Keeper Sylvia Maracle says, homophobia ‘arrived on the boats:’
“Prior to contact with European colonizers, Two-Spirit people existed among many Indigenous nations and often held special roles in their communities. There is evidence that in over two-thirds of 200 Indigenous languages spoken in North America, there were terms used to identify individuals who were neither men nor women. Indigenous views on sexuality were not rooted in heteronormativity. Research and oral histories reflect the widespread respect and honour for Two-Spirit people. Within many Indigenous cultures, the roles of Two-Spirit people carried unique responsibilities that were vital to their communities’ well-being and survival. Some important roles that Two-Spirit people held were as teachers, knowledge keepers, healers, herbalists, child minders. The following information intends to illustrate the history and background of how Two-Spirit and gender and sexually diverse Indigenous people have been affected by colonization and how it is unique from the oppressions experienced by other Indigenous peoples.”
I encourage all Canadians to read this truly beautiful contribution to the way forward in elimination of the violence and the discrimination of all 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada.
All of you have heard my story of growing up in a flower shop where my dad, a Sergeant Major in the Artillery, welcomed the staff at the Christmas celebrations in our home and their partners. He truly understood that love means love. My sister and I grew up with so many wonderful same-sex couples in our lives. I am proud to have fought for same-sex benefits, equal marriage and adoption.
Love is Love.
Walking the Path of Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
The Government of Canada and the Manitoba Metis Federation have taken a major step forward on the path of reconciliation and renewal to by signing the Manitoba Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement. Co-developed by the parties, this historic agreement renews our relationship and advances the Manitoba Metis Federation's vision of self-determination and self-government.
The Agreement recognizes the Manitoba Metis Federation's jurisdiction over citizenship, leadership selection, elections and the operations of their government on behalf of the Manitoba Métis. This Agreement is an incremental agreement that sets out the steps to more formally recognize the Manitoba Metis Federation as an Indigenous government in Canadian law.
President Chartrand noted that this day will be a historic one for Manitoba Métis and will be celebrated for generations to come. This agreement signifies the beginning of a renewed relationship between the Manitoba Métis and Canada. Click here for more.
The Next Governor General of Canada
On July 6, 2021 the Prime Minister announced that on his recommendation, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has approved the appointment of Mary Simon as the next Governor General of Canada.
As Governor General, Ms. Simon will be the representative of Her Majesty The Queen in Canada. She will be Canada’s 30th Governor General since Confederation, and the 13th Governor General appointed by Her Majesty during her 69 years on the throne.
Ms. Simon has dedicated her life to advancing social, economic, and human rights issues for Canadian Inuit and Indigenous Peoples. Through this appointment, we are ensuring that Canada is represented by someone who exemplifies the very best of our country. For full information, click here.
Mary Simon has taught us all so much. She is a nation builder, fighting for equality and Indigenous rights in the Constitution, land claims for Inuit, Ambassador to the Circumpolar Conference and Denmark. As Minister I was so proud that she agreed to provide advice on the way forward for our North. Her report, Shared Arctic Leadership Model provided a road map forward. Our true North Strong and Free!
Supporting Canada’s Small Businesses
Small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities. By buying local, we can help strengthen communities, support local jobs, grow the middle class, and help businesses keep their doors open while we finish the fight against this virus – and well after.
This month, the government has announced $33 million for the Shop Local Initiative. Shop Local is an important initiative to supplement the Government of Canada’s ongoing and comprehensive support for small and local businesses. For more details, visit here.
Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act
Last week the Net-Zero Accountability Act received royal assent. This marks the first time a Canadian government has legislated emissions reductions accountability to address climate change. The Act establishes Canada among global leaders in setting credible and achievable plans for reaching net-zero emissions, laying the groundwork for a clean and prosperous future for our country.
Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is not just a plan for the environment, it is a plan to build a cleaner, more competitive economy. For more, click here.
New Train Service in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor
This week the government announced the launch of the procurement process to build a new train service in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor. A dedicated passenger track would allow a travel speed up to 177-200 kilometres per hour (or 110-124 miles per hour). This could reduce travel times dramatically for rides such as Ottawa to Toronto. Focus on transit and modernizing intercity passenger rail services that will meet the needs of communities and travellers while also creating jobs and economic growth is a positive step in our work at building back better. For full details, click here.
Canada Disability Benefit
In June, the government tabled historic legislation to create the Canada Disability Benefit. This benefit would supplement, not replace, existing supports, lifting hundreds of thousands of Canadians with disabilities out of poverty. Canada will continue to make sure that no one gets left behind as we rebuild from this pandemic. Click here for more details on the Canada Disability Benefit.
Agricultural Clean Technology Program
The government announced that the new Agricultural Clean Technology Program is now open to applicants. This program provides farmers and agri-businesses with funding to develop and adopt the latest clean technologies. Eligible applicants can apply to two streams: the Agricultural Clean Technology Program: Research and Innovation Stream and the Agricultural Clean Technology Program: Adoption Stream. For more details on this program, please click here.
Ensuring All Canadians Have a Safe Place to Call Home
Through the Rapid Housing Initiative, the government is quickly building more homes for Canadians that need it most. This initiative creates new jobs, grows the middle class, builds strong communities and makes life more affordable for Canadians as we build back better from COVID-19.
This month the government announced the building of 4,500 new affordable housing units across the country, with an additional investment of $1.5 billion through the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). Combined with funding for the RHI announced in October, this investment will support a total of over 9,200 new affordable housing units for vulnerable Canadians across the country, tripling the initial target of 3,000 homes. At least 25 percent of this funding will go towards women-focused housing projects, and units will be constructed within 12 months of when funding is provided. For more information, click here.
Federal Minimum Wage $15 per hour
Last week following royal assent of the Budget Implementation Act, the government announced that the Federal minimum wage of $15 per hour announced in Budget 2021 will come into effect on December 29, 2021. Thousands of hard-working Canadians will see their incomes rise as a result of this change, helping them with things like groceries, rent, and the costs of raising kids. For more details, please see the following.
Old Age Security for Canadians aged 75+ to increase by 10 per cent in July 2022
Older seniors have different needs. The government’s plan will help address these pressures by increasing Old Age Security for Canadians aged 75+ by 10 percent in July 2022. For more on Old Age Security for Canadians, click here.
Making life more affordable with the Canada Child Benefit
This month the government announced that families entitled to the Canada Child Benefit will receive additional support of up to $1,200 for each child under the age of six. This temporary measure will put money directly into the pockets of Canadian families to better help them cope with the pressures of the pandemic. The first and second payments have been issued and subsequent payments will be issued on July 30 and October 29, 2021. This measure will help about 1.6 million Canadian families and over two million children under the age of six. Please click here for more information.
This week, the Government announced that effective July 7, 2021, background checks for applicants will now cover their entire lifetime, rather than just the previous five years. Additionally, Canada will require more oversight for the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms to safeguard their movement and ensure that they are being transported safely. For more information, click here.
Call to Action 17 – Indigenous Names on Passports and Immigration Documents
On June 14, in response to Call to Action 17, the government announced that Indigenous peoples can now reclaim their Indigenous names, as written, on passports and other immigration documents. While Call to Action 17 only references passports, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has chosen to go further and include travel documents, citizenship certificates and permanent resident cards. This announcement represents an important step in reversing colonial policies and restoring dignity and pride in the identity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. For more details, please click here.
New Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages
The government has announced the first four appointees to the new Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages. These appointees will work to facilitate better outcomes for Indigenous languages and ensure that they can prosper and be spoken for years to come. This appointment is part of Canada’s commitment to protect, revitalize, and promote First Nations, Inuit and Métis languages, which are at the heart of Indigenous cultural identity. For more details, please click here.
Indigenous Communities - Violence Prevention Strategy
The government has announced the funding of $85 million with an ongoing $10 million per year to fund 12 new emergency shelters for Indigenous women, children, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. This investment is part of Canada’s plan to develop a comprehensive Violence Prevention Strategy, and address the need for new shelters and transitional housing in Indigenous Communities. For more details, click here.
COVID-19 Related News
Canada's Vaccine Update
Almost 78% of eligible Canadians have received their first dose, and over 37% have also received their second dose – this places Canada in the top two countries of the G20 for total doses administered.
Last week Canada received a total of over 50 million doses, and by the end of this month, we’ll have received a total of 68 million doses. If everyone does their part, all eligible Canadians who want a vaccine will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the summer, exceeding the government's September timeline. Canada is on track to hit a cumulative total of 68 million doses by the end of July.
We’re on the right track to end this pandemic in Canada, but this crisis isn’t over. Stay diligent, follow local public health orders, wear a mask and practice physical distancing. We will beat COVID-19 together! For more details, click here.
Non-Essential International Travel Restrictions – Non-Vaccinated & Vaccinated Groups
As of 12:01am EST on July 5th, fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter Canada and who comply with the specific eligibility criteria will not be required to quarantine, stay at a government-authorized accommodation or complete a day-8 test. This is applicable for both land and air travellers.
Non-essential travel to Canada continues to be prohibited and Canadians are reminded that now is not the time to travel.
Travellers must enter their information into the most recent update of the ArriveCAN app (updated July 5th) in order to enter Canada.
To meet the criteria for exemption from quarantine (for all travellers) and the three-night hotel stay (for air travellers), travellers must meet all of the following conditions:
There are no changes for travellers who are not fully vaccinated. They are still subject to the mandatory 3-night stay at a GAA (if arriving by air), a 14-day quarantine, all testing requirements (pre-arrival, on arrival/day 1 and day 8) and the mandatory submission of information via ArriveCAN before arriving in Canada.
Testing of Fully Vaccinated Travellers
The Government of Canada is continuing to take precautions by testing fully vaccinated travellers both before entry and on arrival in Canada.
As the situation is changing daily, please check the following websites for daily updates in Toronto and across Canada:
The government has put in place a number of measures to support Canadians. If you need support, visit Canada.ca/coronavirusbenefits and fill out the survey for a quick and trusted way to see what programs may be available to you.
In Our Community
Local businesses continue to need our support! Find out what stores are open, or what restaurants are offering takeout and delivery. The following BIAs have put together lists of businesses that are still open, albeit doing things a bit differently. Let's do what we can to support our local businesses:
Mental Health Support
Wellness Together Canada
COVID-19 has changed the daily lives of people around the world. During these difficult times, it is critical that Canadians be able to obtain credible information and access services to support their mental health and wellbeing. That's why the government launched a portal dedicated to mental wellness: Wellness Together Canada.
This portal will connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.
Kids Help Phone
Although we’re far apart physically, our young people must feel help is close. Kids Help Phone is a remote mental health service that connects youth with professional counselling, information and referrals across Canada without any face-to-face contact. Contact Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, by texting 686868, or by going online to kidshelpphone.ca.
The constituency office is closed to walk-in visits but my team and I are here for you and continue to serve residents of Toronto-St. Paul's. Our office is fully operational by appointment, phone and email. Call us at 416-952-3990, or email [email protected] for assistance in any federal matter.