Ezekiel Hart
Ezekiel Hart
Collection Centre d’archives de Québec
P 1000 S4, D83, PH 13.

Ezekiel Hart (1770–1843) was a Canadian seigneur, businessperson, and militia officer, and was the first Jew to be elected to public office in the British Empire. Hart was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada in 1807 in a by-election for Trois Rivières, but opposition arose and culminated in what has become known as the Hart Affair. In 1808 when Hart took his seat in Quebec, the Assembly had him expelled for being unable to take the oath of office, which included the phrase “on the true faith of a Christian.” Nevertheless, Hart would be re-elected and again the issue of the oath was used as an excuse to exclude him. It appears that he then retreated from politics to focus on business, but his sons would influence legislation in 1831–1832 to give Jews in Lower Canada full recognition of their rights as citizens.