Israel demands Canada face up to Nazi legacy

Lazy eyes listen


According to Israeli Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Ottawa must confront its “historic sin” of banning Jews while harbouring Nazis in the aftermath of World War II.

When Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky paid a visit to Canada in late September, parliament gave a standing ovation to Ukrainian Waffen SS veteran Yaroslav Hunka.

Honouring the 98-year-old World War II Nazi collaborator has prompted international outrage, with Russia, Poland, and Jewish organisations condemning the move. The episode resulted in the resignation of Canadian House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota, who accepted sole responsibility for the invitation to the Nazi veteran.

Cotler-Wunsh, who started her job last month, argued that Rota’s resignation was not enough to remedy the situation. It was a “first step to acknowledging responsibility for this wrong,” she said. Now the envoy says Canada has to admit to a policy of not allowing enough Jews to cross its borders during and after the Holocaust while letting in Nazis after WWII.

“Nearly 2,000 documented Nazis… immigrated to the country following WWII and built lives, at the same time as the immigration policies towards Jewish victims was ‘none is too many’,” stated an Israeli official.

Hunka’s parliamentary honour was “beyond embarrassing” during a time of “rising antisemitism,” according to Cotler-Wunsh, who added that such occurrences highlight the need for “comprehensive education on antisemitism then and now, on the Holocaust, and on the history of WWII.” The “very possibility” of such a scandal weakens Canada’s resolve to ensuring tragedies like the Holocaust never happen again, as well as its ability to “identify present threats,” she says.

Irwin Cotler, Canada’s former justice minister, called on the government this week to provide information relating to alleged war criminals who fled to Canada after WWII. He was especially adamant that the findings of a 1985 investigation into over 800 such cases, known as the Deschenes Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, be made public.

“This was a failure here of indifference and inaction by successive Canadian governments, the result being that we became a sanctuary for Nazi war criminals, and no accountability would then ensue,” he told Canada’s CTV television over the weekend.

Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller also urged Ottawa to confront its Nazi past, noting that “there was a time in our history when it was easier to do so.”