Hart & Papineau
FROM THE Heritage Minutes COLLECTION
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Through the tireless efforts of Benjamin Hart, the Legislative Assembly granted Jews the right to erect a new synagogue and to keep registers of births, marriages and deaths within their community.
As Samuel B. Hart, Ezekiel's eldest son, would learn at his own expense, however, politics and public service still remained off limits to Jews. In 1830, Lord Matthew Aylmer, the new governor of Lower Canada, offered Samuel Hart the position of magistrate and justice of the peace. Unfortunately, after discussing the matter with his advisors, Aylmer had to withdraw his offer to Hart. Furious, Hart wrote a letter to King William that Aylmer personally agreed to forward to the King. At the same time, other "Jewish subjects" of the King submitted a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada demanding that Jews be allowed to hold public office.
Louis-Joseph Papineau, who became speaker of the Assembly in 1815, was no longer the same man who had supported Hart's expulsion in 1809. An intelligent and enlightened man, he would not allow prejudice and partisan bickering to interfere with the democratic process. Thus, under the tenure of Louis-Joseph Papineau, the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada passed a bill in 1832 that ultimately guaranteed full rights to people practising the Jewish faith. England and its other colonies would not grant these rights to Jews for another 25 years.
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