Ukrainian News | 31Aug2005 | Peter Goldring

Denaturalization and Deportation of Odynsky

It is outrageous for Liberal Minister Volpe to compare the supposedly omitted and non-threatening statement of an immigrant to Canada, occurring fifty years ago, with the recent recorded evidence of notorious Rwandan Leon Mugesera, inciting Hutus to murder Tutsis and dump their bodies into the rivers of Rwanda. Even with such incontrovertible evidence of the statements made and their vile nature, Mugesera was able to delay his deportation from Canada for ten years. In fact, as I am writing this, he is still in Canada, appealing to Minister Volpe’s discretion that he be tried for war crimes here, rather than in Rwanda. There is absolutely no comparison between the case of Leon Mugesera and Wasyl Odynsky. Only a Liberal could consider the two cases to be comparable, since Minister Volpe seems to be expending more effort these days to deport Wasyl Odynsky than to deport Leon Mugesera. Wasyl Odynsky is now over eighty years old, and a man with an impeccable 50-year record as a resident and citizen of Canada.

This politically-driven focus of the Liberals to question the veracity of an immigrant’s intentions and demeanour, fifty years after the fact, is both bizarre and cruel. The real danger is that, if a Canadian cannot ask for and receive protection under the Charter and Rights and Freedoms against unsubstantiated allegations, then nobody can. Where will the Liberal witch-hunt lead to next?

Fifty years from now, no Arab, Japanese, Israeli, Indian or member of any other identified immigrant group will be able to rest easy, knowing that somewhere, somehow in the past, they attended a meeting, are friends of or unknowingly contributed to a rebellious faction -- such as the Taliban, the Red Brigades or a nationalist independence movement associated with violence. Certainly, our immigration system should be weeding out and disallowing entry into Canada for any reason those actually connected to illegal and violent movements. However, to initiate a politically-driven hunt, fifty years after the fact, using an arbitrary probability factor that will destroy a proud Canadian’s fifty year perfect record as a citizen of Canada, is so draconian and anti-Liberal as to be more akin to the actions of a mindless police state, spending countless millions on a preoccupation with rooting out the elusive fifty year old McCarthyistic suspect.

All the while, active foreign terrorist activities proliferate across the land, as our national police force is stretched very thinly for resources. This excessive, compulsive Liberal quest to nail Canadian citizens of 50 years standing with some sort of "fibbing on entry" charge is in stark contrast to their inept, reactionary efforts to clean up present immigration weaknesses that still allow criminals entry into Canada.

Surely the Liberal government must wake up to the reality that immigrant people prove their true civil worth to Canada over time. Fifty years of exemplary citizenship from Wasyl Odynsky is a testament on its own.

The word "abominable" comes to mind, when considering the Liberal preoccupation with selective revocation of citizenship. Fixating primarily on a selected few cultural groups, following a World War involving most of the world’s cultures and countries, smacks of political discrimination, which sets the stage for more and more insidiously selective discrimination. For example, how can it be that there have been absolutely no cases involving after-the-fact citizenship revocations of persons of wartime Japanese descent? Is it possible that absolutely none of those involved in the Japanese slave labour camps who made their way to Canada, or having arrived in Canada, were in all cases immediately turned away? What about Japanese conscripted to support wartime slave labour camp activities? Canada’s Hong Kong war veterans were worked to death in Japan’s wartime industry in conditions even worse than German military concentration camps. The same arguments can be made in relation to the activities of other European nationals during World War II -- such as certain citizens of France -- but somehow, there are no Canadian citizenship questions involving such people.

Who will be punished next under the optics of fifty year-old political lens? Koreans who immigrated to Canada in the 1950s? Vietnamese who immigrated to Canada in the 1970s? It is not the point to make accusations in this regard, but to make a more basic point. Should Odynsky not have protection under Canada’s Charter of Rights to protect his citizenship from extinction, based on unsubstantiated charges of activities prior to immigrating to Canada fifty years ago? The hunt for world criminals should continue, but our efforts should be on the criminal, rather than the innocent or the long-converted to innocence.

Peter Goldring,
Member of Parliament, Edmonton East
August, 2005