The federal government in Canada is set to make Holocaust denial and the downplaying of the murder of Jews by the Nazis a criminal offense except in private conversation, reported The Canadian Press.
Language outlawing Holocaust denial will be added to the criminal code in the government budget. The budget will also allocate $5.6 million over five years to support the office of Irwin Cotler, Canada’s special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism.
“Holocaust denial and distortion constitute a cruel assault on memory, truth and justice—an anti-Semitic libel to cover up the worst crime in history—and thereby a cruel and mocking rebuke to Holocaust survivors and their legacy,” stated Cotler.
“There is no place for anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in Canada,” said Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino. “That’s why we’ve pledged to prohibit the willful promotion of anti-Semitism through condoning, denying or downplaying the Holocaust. The Holocaust was one of the darkest chapters in human history. We must preserve its memory, combat contemporary anti-Semitism and be unequivocal when we say: never again.”
The change to the criminal code comes after Parliament member Kevin Waugh introduced a separate bill earlier this year criminalizing Holocaust denial. He called the move a “win for everybody.”
The government budget does not specify the punishment for a person convicted of Holocaust denial, though Waugh’s bill proposes up to two years in prison, according to The Canadian Press.
The budget will also allocate more than $70 million to initiatives aiding Canada’s Jewish community, including $20 million for the relocation and expansion of the Montreal Holocaust Museum, as well as $2.5 million to help the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre in Toronto.
Canada joins several European nations that have already outlawed Holocaust denial, including Germany, Greece, France, Belgium and the Czech Republic.