Trudeau apologizes for Canada’s 1939 refusal of ship of Jewish refugees
Survivors and families of 900 German Jews whose pleas for asylum Canada ignored during the Holocaust received an official federal apology Wednesday, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed more federal help to combat anti-Semitic acts.
It was 79 years ago that the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King rejected an asylum request from an ocean liner carrying German Jews as it neared Halifax, forcing it back to Europe.
Most of the passengers scattered across the continent and more than 250 of them died in the Holocaust.
The decision to turn the country’s back on European Jews was “unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now,” Trudeau said in his speech on the week marking the 80th anniversary of what is known as “Kristallnacht” and the start of the Holocaust.
Trudeau said Holocaust deniers still exist and anti-Semitism remains prevalent in Canada — the latest numbers from Statistics Canada show Jews are the most frequent target of religiously motivated hate crimes — and North America, shadowed by the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers inside a Pittsburgh synagogue almost two weeks ago.
The ensuing days have seen countrywide vigils and, Trudeau said, calls for the government to do more through a federal program that funds security improvements at places at risk of hate-motivated crimes, such as synagogues.
Trudeau pledged to listen to the request, but didn’t provide further details. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Yet, statues of the then Prime Minister, William Lyon MacKenzie King, remain standing, despite his and his government’s anti-semitist policies. This follows several months of debate and scrutiny of another Canadian Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and his government’s anti-indigenous peoples policies. Do more statues need to come down?