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Anne McLellan   Letter 05   10-Jan-1998   Its work was sloppy
January 10, 1998


The Honourable Anne McLellan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Room 360, Justice Building
239 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H8

E-mail: [email protected]


Dear Ms. McLellan:

In my letter to you of December 19, 1997, I wondered whether the "fire in the belly" that Neal Sher hopes to ignite within Canadian Nazi hunters consists of a predisposition to rely on the unreliable and trust the untrustworthy.  In my present letter, I find in Stephen Labaton's statement in The New York Times reasons for believing that Mr. Sher's "fire in the belly" has still other components:

As it became clear last year that Mr. Demjanjuk might not be Ivan, the Attorney General at the time, William P. Barr, and other senior officials became exasperated with the Nazi-hunting unit.  They ordered Mr. Sher not to respond to his critics.  While Mr. Barr publicly opposed an effort by conservative critics to shut down Mr. Sher's unit, he privately helped undermine it by telling other officials that he viewed its function as anachronistic and its work as sloppy.

For his part, Mr. Sher frustrated many of his colleagues by clinging to the view that Mr. Demjanjuk was indeed Ivan of Treblinka and that even if he was not, it did not matter that the Government had erroneously made that claim for more than a decade because Mr. Demjanjuk had been guilty of other war crimes.  (Stephen Labaton, The New York Times, August 27, 1993, A21)

A more complete statement of the nature of Neal Sher's "fire in the belly," then, may be that it consists of one or more of the following:

(1) relying on the unreliable and trusting the untrustworthy;

(2) running a Nazi-hunting unit in a manner which U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr described as "sloppy";

(3) refusing to recognize the innocence of an accused in the face of overwhelming exculpatory evidence—a refusal which "frustrated many of his colleagues"; and most importantly,

(4) justifying prosecution for an offense in support of which the evidence was defective on the grounds that the accused had probably committed other offences in support of which the evidence was non-existent.

I wonder if the time has not come when you must seriously contemplate the possibility that the decision to import Neal Sher's style of justice to Canada was a blunder of massive proportions, and one whose correction is long overdue.  Perhaps Canadians would be better served if they terminated Mr. Sher's contract now, if only on the grounds that a U.S. Attorney General had discovered Mr. Sher's work to be "sloppy," rather than waiting for the Canadian Attorney General, namely yourself, to discover that Mr. Sher's work in Canada was proving to be sloppy as well.  Avoiding the latter alternative — I should not have to point out — brings the advantage of avoiding undeserved suffering for innocent Canadians.

Yours truly,


Lubomyr Prytulak

cc: Neal Sher


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