Edmonton Journal | Apr. 03, 2004 | Taras Podilsky
Letter to Editor

Try the accused in a Canadian criminal court

Dear editor,

We, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, fully agree with B’nai Brith Western Regional Director Shoshana Szlachter [Edmonton Journal, Mar. 30, 2004] that “the world bring justice to those who perpetrated crimes against humanity in Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda”. We would also add to that list the Soviet Union. The problem with Canada’s War Crimes Unit is that it is not seeking any proof of war crimes or atrocities of those it accuses. It is simply seeking those who may have withheld information or lied upon entering Canada.

Within the current system, an accused person, such as Mr. Furman, cannot prove that he or she told the truth when entering Canada. That is because those immigration interview documents (of the 1940’s and 50’s) have been destroyed by the Canadian government. So, the government accuses them of lying when entering Canada and that’s that. Now it’s up to Mr. Furman to prove that he didn’t lie. HOW? Furthermore, there needs to be NO evidence of war criminality for a person to be deported. Why is it then called the War Crimes Unit? A recent case in Ontario of Wasyl Odynsky clearly proves this. In his case, Judge Mackay ruled that there was no proof of any war crimes, yet on “the balance of probabilities” Mr. Odynsky probably withheld information upon entering Canada and was ordered deported. I do not see how these kind of proceedings bring justice to “those who perpetrated crimes against humanity”.

Canada’s War Crimes Unit is having difficulties finding evidence to prove that any Nazi war criminals are living in Canada. If they have evidence, grant these people a trial in a Canadian Criminal Court - a criminal court for a criminal activity. Here the accusation must be proven and justice can truly be served. Those guilty of atrocities will be sentenced and the innocent will be vindicated.

Shoshana Szlachter and I both agree that justice should be brought to those who were responsible for the murder of innocent people, including his family members. It is now up to our government to abandon an unjust strategy in trying to accomplish this. The current system potentially destroys the lives of frail elderly Canadians, who in most cases were victims themselves of the Nazi war machine.

Find the evidence and try the accused in a Canadian criminal court. There the accused can have a true opportunity to defend themselves.

Taras Podilsky
Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Edmonton Director