Monday, 10 December, 2018

Canada apologises for turning away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issues an official apology on behalf of the country for turning away the MS St. Louis a ship carrying over 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany that arrived in Canada in 1939 at the House of Commons in Ottawa Trudeau issues apology for Canada's refusal to harbor Jews fleeing Holocaust
Jeannette Daniel | 10 November, 2018, 15:56

"To harbour such hatred and indifference towards the refugees was to share in the moral responsibility for their deaths", Trudeau told the Commons.

It was 79 years ago that the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King rejected an asylum request from an ocean liner carrying more than 900 German Jews as it neared Halifax, forcing it back to Europe. More than half of them later died in concentration camps.

"I want to start by congratulating all the candidates who stepped forward in the U.S. midterms and highlight the historic number of women who were elected in yesterday's elections", Trudeau said.

Canadian politicians at the time had refused entry because they were anti-Semitic, he added.

The apology connected past to present, showing how the hate that animated Canada's treatment of Jewish refugees in the 20th century is still ingrained in contemporary politics Canada, the US and elsewhere.

Trudeau called on all Canadians to fight xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes. "Apologizing, I sincerely hope that we will be able to shed some light on this painful Chapter of our history and to ensure that lessons learned will never be forgotten", said Trudeau.

"We 900 immigrants looking for safe haven were denied that and fortunately there are countries such as Canada who are willing to take those truly looking for safe haven and looking for a place to reside without being persecuted", Wiener said.

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"We had a tragic reminder just a few weeks ago that we need to continue to work together", Trudeau told reporters later, alluding to the massacre of 11 people at a synagogue in the United States city of Pittsburgh. Last year, 1,752 incidents linked to antisemitism were reported in Canada, which is a 1.4 percent increase from the previous year and the new record.

Trudeau, a Liberal, has made a number of apologies for Canada's historical failings.

Gordon said history continues to repeat itself and even today "many people are discriminated against, starving or running for their lives".

"Holocaust deniers still exist", he said.

He said the October 27 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, where a gunman shot and killed 11 people simply because they were Jewish, shows anti-Semitism still exists in society.

"Sadly, these evils did not end with the second world war".

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