Thousands of Canadian Jews converged at the site of that nation’s seat of government—Parliament Hill in Ottawa—on December 4, undeterred by a foot of snow and a bus boycott that left many stranded in Toronto.
Seventeen of the 70 chartered buses failed to show up to pick up rally-goers to make the 250-mile trek to the event. It was an echo of a similar incident several weeks earlier where a delegation of 900 was left stranded in Detroit before a massive pro-Israel rally in Washington, D.C. by what the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit called “a deliberate and malicious walk-off of drivers.”
Adam Minsky, president and CEO of United Jewish Appeal Federations in Toronto, condemned the action. “Despite charging in full in advance and confirming its participation, the [unidentified] company did not send a single bus and has declined all communications while refusing to provide any explanations,” he said.
“We are driven to the view that this shameful decision is intended to disrupt our peaceful rally out of hatred toward Jews,” he added. “What happened today is sickening and outrageous. We will respond aggressively with every legal and public affairs tool at our disposal.”
Still, attendees showed up in force to show their solidarity with Israel and to denounce the surge in antisemitism since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks. Dignitaries who spoke at the event included politicians, Jewish community leaders, college students and family members of those captured or killed by Hamas.
Liberal Party member of parliament Anthony Housefather who is Jewish and represents Montreal’s largely Jewish Mount Royal district said, “This is not 1943. I’m grateful that Israel exists and has an army to fight back against those who launched this pogrom.”
Another speaker, Raquel Look, whose son Alexandre was murdered at the music festival in southern Israel attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7, called on Canadian politicians to take more action against antisemitism.
“Our sorrow is deep and immeasurable but today we want to channel this immense pain into a call for action,” Look said. “Please let us honor his memory by standing up against the forces that seek to destroy Jewish and Canadian values we hold so dear.”
As in America and elsewhere in the world, antisemitic hate crimes have spiked in Canada since the attacks. In Montreal, compared with a total of 72 hate crimes against all minorities during the entirety of 2022, there have been 48 such incidents against Jews just in the weeks following October 7. Local Jewish leaders characterized the December 4 event, which was organized by Canadian Jewish federations and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, a historic gathering.