by Gordon Nary
Gordon: When did you attend Carleton University, what degree did you earn, what was your favorite course, and why was it your favorite?
Bernie: I attended Carleton from 1969-1973 earning a BA in religion and political science. My favourite course was Shakesperean literature simply because my professor Charles Haines was brilliant, engaging, new more about Shakespeare then anyone in the country and made sure that whatever he taught was as relevant to our day as it was to the history of the time.
Gordon: When were you appointed CEO Canadian Jewish Congress and what were your primary responsibilities?
Bernie: I was the Chief lead on domestic advocacy for Canadian Jewry. Everything from antisemitism, to the hunt for Nazi war criminals in Canada fell under my teams rubric. As well, putting our best Canadian Jewish foot forward was key. It was important that Canadian Jewry be seen as part of the Canadian Mosaic, as such we worked on issues of of the constitution, provincial/federal relations that impacted minorities; we worked with other ethnic communities targeted by hatred and were called upon by police, media and the Courts for our expertise.
Gordon: Were did you serve as Senior Vice President Gemini Power Corp and what were your primary responsibilities?
Bernie: I worked with Canada’s First Nations in northern Ontario as a key partner in Gemini’s ongoing clean and sustainable energy development. Founded in 2006 Gemini Power Corp develops sustainable energy and human relationships that empower our partners both socially and economically. With both commercial and First Nations partnerships, GPC develops its projects in a way that respects both the environment and its Partners' values
Gordon: When did you serve as Executive Director of the Mosaic Institute, what were your primary responsibilities, and what is one of your favorite memories when you were there?
Bernie: The Mosaic Institute is a young, small, dynamic, and innovative not-for- profit charitable organization in Canada.
We call ourselves a “think and do” tank that works daily to tackle the multiple complex social issues that we face. We work with different communities to develop solutions that advance social justice and peace – demonstrating that often, difference can be the solution.
Our tagline, “difference is the solution” characterizes our approach in viewing our differences not as problems, rather these differences can be an important source for solutions to our shared social concerns.
We truly believe that by embracing our differences, understanding and reveling in our differences we better come together s as a community, a city and a country.
The Mosaic Institute also stands shoulder to shoulder with aggrieved communities to offer help and assistance in finding civil resolutions.
Gordon: when did you serve as Human Rights Consultant at Farber Consultants and what were some of the Human Rights challenges that you had to address?
Bernie: Upon retiring from CJC, I was asked by a number of government and private concerns to consult on issues of hate motivation and anti-racism. I worked with Canadian Courts as an acknowledged expert in identifying motivating factors behind perpetrators of hate crimes. I consulted with police services on issues of white supremacy and neo-Nazism and provided workshops on the roots of antisemitism. Much of which I continue to do to this very day.
Gordon: When were you appointed Chair Canadian Anti-Hate Network of Ontario,. and what are some of the worst hate crimes that you have addressed?
The Canadian AntiHate Network is a national non-profit that researches and exposes far right hate groups and their adherent's in Canada. Perhaps one of our most significant accomplishments was helping to expose one of Canada’s premier hatemongers, Zeiger.
Alt-right neo-Nazi propagandist Gabriel Sohier Chaput aka Zeiger was wanted by Montreal police on the charge of willful promotion of hatred, Criminal Code S319(2).
This rarely used charge carries a penalty of up to two years imprisonment.
Zeiger was exposed in May by Montreal anti-fascists and the Montreal Gazette. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network provided the Montreal Police (SPVM) with information at that time.
Now a warrant has been issued for his arrest Since being exposed, Zeiger has gone into hiding and has been relatively quiet. He was found last year and is presently awaiting trial in Montreal.
We stand ready to provide more assistance with Zeiger to the SPVM and we have several other investigations underway into others like him, which we trust will also result in charges.
Gordon: How prevalent is Antisemitism in Canada and what can the government do to reduce these crimes?
Bernie: antisemitism is known as the longest hatred for good reason. In the last 2000 years barley a decade has gone by without Jew hatred rearing its ugly head. Of course and tragically it came to a genocidal head with the Holocaust where 6 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered for simply being Jewish.
Law and education combined are the best tools to fight hate and antisemitism. Government must be serious in implement-in online harms legislation where much of today’s hatred takes place. Schools and school boards need to ensure that proper training is in place to identify students who may be headed down the dark road of racism and antisemitism.
Gordon: Canada is blessed having you work there.