The Globe and Mail
Sat 01 Mar 2008
Section: National News
Byline: Unnati Gandhi
Eleven ethnic and religious groups out of an applicant pool of more than 100 were granted federal funding yesterday in an effort to improve security at their institutions and counter hate crimes.
Nine Jewish groups, as well as a Muslim association and a Sikh community, will share a total of nearly $250,000, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day told a small crowd of Jewish leaders at a Thornhill, Ont., community centre yesterday.
The affluent, predominantly Jewish riding north of Toronto was identified late last year as a key group in the Tories’ targeted strategy to woo minorities. The Conservatives have been consistently shut out in urban centres where they need to make gains if they want to win a majority government, and yesterday’s announcement grants funding to institutions in the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Edmonton and the Vancouver suburb of Surrey.
"I know what it’s like to visit … a Jewish community where, not just heartbreaking but, outrageous things are written on the walls, on the doors, where windows are broken, or far worse, where fires have taken place," Mr. Day said, before saying that $216,000 would be split among nine synagogues, Jewish community centres and schools for such security measures as surveillance cameras, alarm systems and security training.
Mr. Day made yesterday’s announcement as Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Toronto with Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney, who is overseeing an ethnic outreach team.
When asked if his personal appearance in Thornhill was part of an effort to target certain voters, Mr. Day said the only thing his party is targeting is intolerance.
Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said that regardless of why Mr. Day decided to make the announcement in Thornhill, the funding brings some comfort to the Jewish community. He said he has been speaking to all three federal parties for years about the need for more help in protecting its institutions from hate crimes.
"To the credit of the Conservative Party, they moved with it and they moved with it quickly. And that’s important. If that indeed gains them [votes from] people who feel more comfortable with them, that’s politics."