• Meyer Grunberg

Jews Granted Equal Rights in Canada, 1832

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: June 5, 1832 ✡



Jews granted full civil rights by the Legislature of Lower Canada (Quebec) through the ratification of the Emancipation Act. Pictured here is, Ezekiel Hart, the man indirectly responsible for bringing about this change.


Ekezial Hart “was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada” in 1807. Hart became the first Jewish official elected in the British Empire. When Hart took the oath, he covered his head and took it over the Torah (Hebrew Bible) and swapped out the last word of the oath “Christian” with “Jew.”


Hart was condemned by his constituents for his actions. He then offered to take the oath over again and leave in the word Christian, despite the fact that Jews made the same modification when testifying in court. The legislature rejected his offer and voted to expel Hart. When new elections took place in 1808, Hart again emerged victorious. He recited the standard oath but was once again expelled. Hart did not run for a third time. . . .

In 1830 the Legislative Council in Quebec took up a law which granted identical religious rights to the legislature’s Catholic and Anglican members, the two other religions officially recognized by the province. By 1832, Hart's experiences years earlier inspired Jewish political action and were added to the bill as well.


Source: Haaretz. Canada-s-jews-get-civil-rights

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