Edmonton - The president of the 1,000 member Alberta Ukrainian Self-Reliance League today called on Justice Minister Anne McLellan to either retract her recent statement on the Peter Vitols denaturalization and deportation case, or else resign.
Reacting to a Judge's decision last week that dismissed the federal government's attempt to denaturalize and deport Mr. Vitols in a so-called "war crimes" case, the federal Justice Minister was quoted in newspapers across Canada as expressing "disagreement with Justice William McKeown's decision" and further declaring her "disappointment that Mr. Vitols will be allowed to remain in Canada."
Mr. Harasymiw pointed out that such a pronouncement by the Justice Minister has tainted future denaturalization and deportation cases concerning alleged activities during the Second World War, due to be heard soon. "For one thing, Ms McLellan has sent an unmistakable signal to judges who will be assigned to hear the other 14 cases yet to be heard that they should not be reaching a decision with which the Minister disagrees."
Secondly, says Mr. Harasymiw, "she has substituted her judgment of the merits of the case in place of the decision of a duly empowered judge. On both counts, the Justice Minister has violated the most sacred tenet of the Canadian legal system -- the total independence and impartiality of the judiciary."
Ms. McLellan's department has been rocked with controversy since she took over the portfolio last year, firstly with the visit by a senior department official to the Chief Judge of the Federal Court to discuss 3 cases then before the courts; and more recently with the hiring of Near Sher, an American attorney under active investigation in the U.S. for perjury and obstruction of justice.
For further information media may contact:
Eugene Harasymiw, President
Alberta Ukrainian Self-Reliance League
Tel: (780) 422-8781