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by Rhonda Spivak , January 26 2011

In the just released annual Wiesenthal Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals (April 1 2009- March 31, 2010) Canada received a ‘Failure in Practice’ or ‘F2’ designation. This status includes countries in which there are no legal obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals, but whose efforts (or lack thereof) have resulted in complete failure during the period under review, primarily due to the absence of political will to proceed and/or a lack of the requisite resources and/or expertise.
The report found that during this timeframe Canada failed to obtain any convictions or file any indictments, and noted the continued failure of Canadian authorities to deport any of the Nazi war criminals and collaborators who have been denaturalized.
Failure on the part of Canada was contrasted with continued success on the part of the American Office of Special Investigations in the US (which received an ‘A’ rating) and noted the discrepancy between the impressive results achieved in the US and the minimal progress in Canada “should be cause for serious concern and analysis in Ottawa.”

According to Ephraim Zuroff, author of the report and the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, “The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers and old age should not afford protection to those who committed such heinous crimes. In addition, we must remember our obligation to the Nazis’ victims to try and find the perpetrators and hold them accountable for their crimes.”

In a recent  telephone interview  with the Canadian Jewish News, Zuroff asserted that “something is wrong in Canada.” The United States, which pursues similar legal measures against Nazi suspects, has a much better record of finding them, removing their citizenship and throwing them out of the country, he said.

In an e-mail response to a query from The CJN, government spokesperson Carole Saindon stated, “The government of Canada is committed to tackling crime in whatever form it may appear, and war crimes are no exception.

“Since 1987, the government of Canada has upheld its policy to ensure that this country does not become a safe haven for people involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Over this time, the War Crimes Program has taken action in 21 Second World War-related files.

“Canada’s war crimes program remains relevant beyond the Second World War through the program’s work of screening those entering Canada and investigating and initiating prosecutions and removal proceedings for modern-day war criminals from around the world.

“The government  remains committed to identifying, preventing entry, locating, apprehending, prosecuting, detaining and removing those individuals who pose a safety and security risk or threat to Canada.”

Zuroff  told the CJN that the program’s only success in recent years was the extradition of Michael Seifert to Italy. However, that case was the result  of a response to an Italian request. Seifert died in custody last year.

While Canada was rated poorly in the report, marks of “A” were given to the United States and Germany. “This was the first time Germany got an A,”  Zuroff told the CJN. It is also the  first time a country other than the United States received an A, Zuroff said.

Germany  was able to earn an A grade because it moved away from its longstanding policy of focusing only on German suspects to include people from other ethnic groups and by becoming proactive in investigating suspects.

 Australia, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine joined Canada with grades of F.Italy and Serbia earned “B” while Poland received a “C.”
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.