In 1967, while serving as Minister of Justice, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced the death of a Canadian citizen convicted by the Soviet Union of commanding a firing squad responsible for the deaths of 5,128 Jews during World War II. He opposed the revocation of his citizenship, the 617-page report said. It was prepared decades ago for the War Crimes Investigation Commission.
The document, currently largely unedited, was released by the Library and Archives on Thursday. The document was originally prepared for the Deschenes Commission, which investigated Nazi immigration to Canada in the mid-1980s.
According to the documents, a Soviet court tried and convicted the Canadian, identified only as Subject F, in absentia in Riga, Latvia, in 1965.
Written by historian Arti Rodal. A heavily redacted version under Canada’s Access to Information Act was first released to the public in 1987. Jewish human rights group B’nai Brith obtained a less censored version in June 2023, which blacked out Trudeau’s position on the incident.
In 1967, when Trudeau was justice minister in Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought a legal opinion on whether there were solid grounds to deport Subject F at the request of the Soviet Union.
In July of the same year, Prime Minister Trudeau sent a letter to the ministry as follows: “Even if we assume that Subject F actually committed the crime, it cannot be proven that he intentionally concealed material circumstances related to his good character.” He was found guilty in absentia. ”
In November 1967, Prime Minister Trudeau further elaborated on his thoughts in a letter to Paul Martin Sr., then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. In the statement, Prime Minister Trudeau said he was concerned about setting a precedent where other people would be stripped of their citizenship.
“The Act contains provisions indicating that an application for Canadian citizenship is of a confessional nature, requiring the applicant to disclose all past conduct, whether public or private,” he said. There is nothing,” he wrote.
“While I appreciate your concern about the impacts and concerns you have mentioned, I would like to add. [of the Jewish community and others concerned with inaction with regard to war criminals settled in Canada]On the other hand, it seems to me most unwise for the government to embark on this enterprise of publicly accusing Canadian citizens of committing crimes in Latvia, and convicting them in absentia in that regard. , in Russia. “
“If we do that, I think we will have to accept that similar measures could be taken if it turns out that the person who obtained the citizenship certificate has not disclosed what happened in the past. But that is what we, the government, are now deciding to do.”It is sufficiently serious to constitute a concealment of circumstances material to the granting of his citizenship.”
“Therefore, based on my current understanding of this case, I cannot recommend or consent to a course of action that would strip Subject F of his Canadian citizenship.”
Rodal’s report noted that the Canadian Jewish Congress continued to unsuccessfully attempt to have Subject F deported.
Press to open document
“As Minister of Justice, [Trudeau] He wasn’t just thinking legally, he was thinking politically,” said David, senior legal counsel for the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith, who filed the access-to-information request that led to the release of the unredacted report. Matas said.
“Bringing mass murderers to justice should not be sidetracked by political considerations,” he added.
Canadian Jewish groups have been making new demands since the fall for Nazi documents in Canada to be unsealed. A high-profile visit to the House of Commons by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came as MPs spontaneously stood to honor Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian immigrant who fought in the Nazi forces during World War II. , it was then that it developed into an international scandal.
Other newly unredacted parts of the Rodal report are that the RCMP knew in 1954 that the United States was seeking to resettle in Canada people who had assisted the United States in the fight against communism; is made clear.
Rodal wrote that the U.S. has informed the RCMP that some of these individuals “have extensive criminal histories stemming from incidents involving moral depravity.” That includes former Nazis, she claimed.
The number of people who manage to enter Canada through this program remains redacted in this version of the report, along with the rest of page 14.
“What we want is a complete release of the records,” Matas said.
His organization is also calling on the government to release the second part of the Deschenes Commission’s final report, including the names and details of the individuals it wanted to trace.
“The survivors once [of the Holocaust] They have passed away, but what remains of us in terms of Holocaust memory are records. Therefore, as time progresses, records become more and more important,” Matas said.
Mr Miller welcomes the latest version of the report
In a statement, Immigration Minister Mark Miller welcomed the publication of the latest version of the Rodal report, noting that some information is still protected under the Information Privacy Act.
“Those who suffered under Nazi Germany and their descendants demand transparency regarding this shameful part of our nation’s history,” Miller was quoted in the statement, which said the department would release most of the report. He added that this is why the measures were taken. “More can and should be done to ensure transparency.”
The statement also said the government continues to work with regional stakeholders on next steps.
“Libraries and Archives Canada is committed to preserving and making available to the public historical records that contribute to Canada’s progress as a free and democratic society,” said Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, in a statement. “I am doing so,” he said.
In response to questions from CBC News to Library and Archives Canada, IRCC spokesperson Aissa Diop said in a statement that the latest release of the Rodal report includes a number of documents previously held for various reasons under Canadian law. It said it contained unedited information that had been.
These include some information secretly obtained from foreign governments. Some of them were deemed harmful to international affairs, harmful to the enforcement of law within Canada, or harmful under attorney-client privilege.
According to a 1987 Canadian Press article, Prime Minister Trudeau faced allegations that he personally opposed the prosecution of Nazi criminals, but in the early 1980s, when he was attorney general, then Liberal MP Robert Kaplan He reportedly deflected the accusation by saying that he was in a better position. Explain government policy.
The article also cited Mr. Rodal as saying that his investigation showed Mr. Trudeau had a private veto and that there were political reasons why he did not press charges. .