As a very proud member of Canada's Jewish community, I was delighted to have had the privilege of bringing forward an act that formalizes the month of May as a time to celebrate Canadian Jewish culture and to honour the significant contributions that have been made by Canadians of Jewish faith.
The story of the Jewish people in Canada has been, by and large, a story of acceptance, tolerance and mutual embrace. While not without blemish, Canada has been a country where Jews have been able to enjoy religious freedom, safety and prosperity.
As early as 1768, the first Jewish settlers to Lower Canada established a synagogue in Montreal. Jews were the first non-Christian, non-Aboriginal community to put down roots in what would eventually become Canada.
In 1832, the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada voted to politically enfranchise Jews, making Quebec the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to do this.
For more than two centuries, Jewish Canadians have had a profound impact on the fields of business, medicine, justice, the military, academia, journalism, politics and the arts.
As tempting as it is for me to try and list here the names of the greatest Jewish Canadians, they are, in fact, too numerous to attempt to detail. That's precisely the value of holding an annual Jewish heritage month, so that the many achievements, accomplishments and discoveries of Jewish Canadians can be properly honoured through events, exhibitions, concerts, readings, festivals and other organized activities.
Canada today is home to the fourth largest Jewish community in the world. Many of those are the descendants of the 35,000 Holocaust survivors whom Canada accepted after World War II.
It is my hope that Canadian Jewish heritage month will give all Canadians, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, the opportunity to better understand the culture and history of Jewish Canadians, as well as to appreciate the integral role that the Jewish community has played in shaping Canada into one of the very best countries in the world in which to live.
Read Senator Frum’s complete remarks on this bill from December 8, 2016.