Statement from UWOFA on Ontario government circumventing democracy and public debate on Bill 168

UWOFA’s Executive Committee is alarmed that the Ontario government is pushing through provisions of an antisemitism act that could erode academic freedom to criticize a foreign state.

Public hearings were scheduled to take place this week regarding Bill 168, the Combating Antisemitism Act. However, an Order-in-Council issued on Monday circumvented public debate by enshrining into law the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. UWOFA is concerned that the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism and its list of illustrative examples equates criticism of the state of Israel with antisemitism, thus limiting scholars’ ability to engage in legitimate criticism of a foreign state.

“UWOFA deplores antisemitism and all forms of hatred and intolerance," said Beth MacDougall-Shackleton, president of UWOFA. "However, we are deeply troubled by the government’s bypassing of the democratic process, and the apparent lack of respect for freedom of speech and freedom of scholarship."

Please also read a statement by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) here.