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Pittsburgh attack comes amid rising anti-Semitism in North America – National

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Fourteen synagogues across Canada receive mail warning that “Jewry Must Perish.” A Nazi flag and graffiti saying “Jews did 911” mars a high school. A U.S. Holocaust-denier comes to Toronto to speak at Al-Quds Day.

The attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead and six injured occurred at a time of rising anti-Semitism in both the United States and Canada, according to statistics from authorities in both countries.

More than half of the religiously-motivated hate crimes in the U.S. in 2016 targeted Jews, FBI figures indicate, and the Anti-Defamation League said 2017 was even worse – a trend mirrored in Canada.

WATCH:  Pittsburgh shooting is attack on the entire Jewish people, says UJA Toronto







Jews were the most targeted minority for hate crimes reported to police in 2016, Statistics Canada said. Anti-Semitic incidents increased 24 per cent that year. B’nai Brith Canada said 2017 saw another increase.

Only a handful of the incidents were violent, with harassment and vandalism accounting for the bulk, but they speak to what some see as a growing legitimization of anti-Semitism, one that sometimes goes unrecognized.

When Jewish high school students attended an anti-racism seminar at York University, they were told to “shut the f*** up” and listen to “real persecuted minorities,” according to B’nai Brith’s annual anti-Semitism audit.


READ MORE:
What we know about Robert Bowers, suspect in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

“We remain deeply concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism, including violent anti-Semitism, around the globe,” said Martin Sampson of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Sampson said anti-Semitism was unlike other forms of bigotry and hate, and was in many ways more pernicious, being longstanding and grounded in conspiracy theory.

“What underpins true anti-Semitism is a belief that the Jews are extra-evil, that they are some sort of cosmic evil, that they control the world, that they’re at the root of all that ails us,” he said.

WATCH: Anti-Semitic incidents up in 2017, according to B’nai Brith







“Anti-Semites believe this, which puts their belief one step away from action. Who is to blame them if they demonize or kill a cosmic evil? Yesterday was this exact dynamic.”

Sampson said when people needed scapegoats in complicated times, Jews have long been the targets they turned on. “Anti-Semitism is on the rise because hateful anti-Semites are intellectually deficient, angry and need someone to blame.”

He said it was important to call out, ridicule, prosecute, and marginalize anti-Semites.

“For those of us who are watching closely, yesterday was shocking, infuriating, and deeply saddening. But it was not surprising.”


READ MORE:
Police presence in Jewish communities across Canada to be increased following Pittsburgh shooting

Increases in anti-Semitism are sometimes linked to events overseas. When a Montreal Jewish school was firebombed in 2004, the 19-year-old who did it said he was angry that Israel had killed the leader of the Hamas terrorist group.

More recently, the impact of last year’s white nationalist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. was felt in Canada, setting off what B’nai Brith called a “massive wave of vandalism featuring swastikas and other pro-Nazi imagery.” President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem similarly led to anti-Semitic hate speech.

“What is most frustrating about these incidents is the culture of impunity that surrounds them,” B’nai Brith said. “The government often talks a good game about ‘zero tolerance’ for anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, but the reality is quite different.”

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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