Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Conservative plan to protect ethnic and religious institutions cynical

Conservative plan to protect ethnic and religious institutions cynical
pre-election ploy

OTTAWA – Ethno-cultural and religious groups need a comprehensive plan to
keep their institutions safe – not the piecemeal approach announced by the
Conservatives on the eve of a federal election, Liberal MPs Anita Neville
and Susan Kadis said today.

"As they continue their pre-election spending blitz to try and buy votes
at
the last minute, the Harper government made announcements yesterday that
target specific groups and institutions, while leaving others with
nothing,"
said Ms. Neville.

"Many ethno-cultural and religious organizations have spent significant
funds on security measures at the expense of delivering core services to
their communities. Many others simply do not have sufficient resources to
implement needed measures to secure their facilities and reassure
community
members of their personal safety. They all need some help from their
government – and that must include all at-risk communities," added Ms.
Kadis.

After implementing a woefully insufficient $3-million pilot project last
summer, the Conservatives suddenly anted up a few more dollars for over 20
specific institutions in the GTA, Montreal, Vancouver, Richmond, BC and
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, just two days before they’re set to hit the
election
trail for an election that has been called on an important holiday.

"They have clearly targeted their announcements to places where they think
they can get votes," said Ms. Neville. "Why else would they target these
specific groups, while leaving others in the cold? It is the most cynical
of
political ploys."

Ms. Kadis said what is really needed is the Liberals’ $75-million
Communities At Risk program announced by Stéphane Dion earlier this
year.
This program will be established under the department of Public Safety to
provide federal support for security measures implemented by at-risk
not-for
profit organizations related to ethno-cultural or religious places of
worship, educational institutions or community centres.  Funding will be
allocated based on clear and impartial criteria – not last minute
political
expediency of the government in power. 

As part of the National Justice Initiative Against Racism and Hate and the
National Strategy to Combat Racism, the previous Liberal government was in
the process of developing a further strategy to address security issues.
The
Conservatives abandoned this initiative when they took office in 2006.
Today’s announcement by the Conservatives is too little, too late to make
up
for this earlier short-sighted decision to abandon a plan already in
place.

"It is critical that we protect the fundamental rights of all Canadians to
feel safe and this must me done in a safe and judicious way and not as a
last minute election ploy when the Conservative government has improperly
and wrongly chosen to hold election day on an important Jewish holiday,"
said Ms. Kadis. "This serious issue is not about last-minute pre-election
promises – it is a critical part of any government plan to fight against
racism and hate propaganda."

Contact:

Office of Anita Neville
613-992-9475

Office of Susan Kadis
613-992-0253