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'Tamil Genocide Education Week Act' will be challenged by two separate groups in Canadian court

The Tamil Genocide Education BIll being signed last year.

Ontario's recently enacted legislation titled 'Bill 104' is being challenged by two separate groups, arguing the bill is "unconstitutional" and violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Bill 104, also known as the Tamil Genocide Education week, establishes May 12-18th as a week in which Ontarians "are encouraged to educate themselves about, and to maintain their awareness of, the Tamil genocide and other genocides that have occurred in world history."

Both the "Sri Lankan Canadian Action Coalition (SLCAC)" and "Hewage" are arguing in court that the Province of Ontario acted "ultra vires," meaning that even though the government passed the bill, they acted outside of their powers in doing so.

However, in a press release, the Tamil Rights Group (TRG) announced they are filing an application seeking leave to intervene in both the "SLCAC et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario" challenge and the "Neville Hewage v. Attorney General of Ontario" challenge. 

TRG stated their arguments will "centre the perspective of Eelam Tamils."

The TRG has also retained a criminal and constitutional lawyer, Janani Shanmuganathan of Goddard & Shanmuganathan LLP, to intervene in both matters. Shanmuganathan has been counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada and has argued more than 40 appeals at the Ontario Court of Appeal. Outside of the courtroom, Ms. Shanmuganathan is an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School. 

Commenting on the importance of Bill 104, President of TRG, Navaratnam Srinarayanathas, stated;

"The newly enacted Ontario legislation is of great interest to Eelam Tamils and the global Tamil diaspora as it is arguably the first piece of international legislation that recognises that 'acts of genocide' against the Tamils started in 1948 after Sri Lanka gained its independence."

SLCAC fundraiser to 'fight' Bill 104

SLCAC likens the Tamil Diaspora to 'Nazis' in their "fight" against Bill 104

On the crowdfunding site "GoFundMe," the Sri Lankan Canadian Action Coalition (SLCAC) raised $147,413 to "fight against Bill 104." The group argues the bill is "unconstitutional," stating now "schools in Ontario have no choice but to teach Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka as a curriculum element."

In their description of the "fundraiser," the SLCAC bluntly states;

"[The Tamil Genocide] is a myth propagated by the Pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora, which despite not having a single shred of solid evidence keeps on repeating a lie, hoping that it would be established as a fact. Just like Nazis did."

The group's comments come as the International Tamil Diaspora releases a letter calling to ban 18 "credibly accused" war criminals, citing the evidence collected in a report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2015. The report outlines evidence and documentation of the war crimes committed against Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan government from 2008 to 2009.

"Several Sri Lankan Canadian community organizations have come together to challenge this act in court," the SLCAC stated. The groups also highlighted that they retained a "top end Law Firm from Toronto" with "extensive constitutional law experience" to represent them.

"This case also has a potential trajectory into [the] Supreme Court given the arguments… This is a costly endeavour, but it is a must at this juncture," the SLCAC claimed.

So far, the fundraiser has received 379 donations, several of which are from "Christmas Cake sales," "potlucks," and community donations. Further, in one piece uploaded to the SLCAC website, they highlighted that the group "convened with six leading Buddhist temples in Canada" in their action against bill 104. 

In May 2021, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the passage of Bill 104 in Ontario claiming it was based on a flawed premise, unfounded assumptions and blatant lies.

The Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry claimed that “Neither the UN nor foreign governments including the friendly Government of Canada, have ever made a finding that there was genocide." These same "concerns" raised by Sri Lanka'f foreign ministry were also raised by the SLCAC. 

Read more about bill 104 here.

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