January 25, 1999 Faxed to: (613) 996-4516
Hon. Anne McLellan
Minister of Justice
322 West Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8
Dear Madam Minister:
Our membership has now had the opportunity to thoroughly review your letter of October 2, 1998, which was your response to our letter of May 25, 1998.
I have been directed to convey the following rebuttal, which will proceed under each major topic your letter covered.
Denaturalization and Deportation process
You state that "all fair-minded Canadians agree" with the guiding principle that Canada "must not be a safe haven for war criminals or for persons who have engaged in reprehensible activity during time of conflict, regardless of time and place."
To the undiscriminating observer, these statements would indeed seem fair. However, closer scrutiny of such statements reveals fundamental flaws in your position.
(a) There is only one way to determine the guilt or innocence of a person charged with an offence as serious as a war crime, and that is within the criminal process, with all its attendant safeguards.
(b) What exactly is a "war crime"? We challenge you to publicly state what actions constitute a war crime? If your Cabinet colleagues are so sure that stripping a person of Canadian citizenship on the grounds it was obtained by false representation or fraud or by concealing material circumstances can be equated with war criminality, then they display a lack of understanding of the concept of civil liberties.
(c) Your statement presupposes that the false representations or fraud or material circumstances amount to war criminality -- nothing could be more dangerous to the legal fabric of this country than such an unsustainable assertion. What has emerged in the "prosecutions" to date is the undesirable tactic, imported from the Wiesenthal lobby, of equating membership in a given grouping (irrespective of the voluntariness of such association) with the commission of heinous crimes against humanity. This, Madam Minister, is not justice -- this is pandering to the questionable political agenda of those groups bent on hiding the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by their own people.
(d) Can you explain why your Nazi hunting unit's focus is on so-called war crimes activity, as you state, "during time of conflict"? It wouldn't be to hide Soviet mass murder -- 60 million innocent people -- in times other than war, would it? Or to shield those ethnic groups who collaborated and actively led the commission of these atrocities?
Justice Deschenes' Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes
You state assuredly that your government's position (i.e. adopting denaturalization and deportation) "is highly influenced by the recommendations made by the Hon. Jules Deschenes." Is that so? Then, what do you make of the following statement made by the same Justice Deschenes November 12, 1998 at the Institute for International Affairs of B'nai Brith?:
"... there were two routes that were open to the government and it was apolitical decision on their part to decide which route they would follow... But if I had to express a priority today, I would have thought that the real punishment would be to tell to the suspect here -- if he is found guilty, my friend, we put you in jail for X number of years. That's your punishment. That doesn't tally with the opinion of Allan Ryan who says that the greatest punishment is the revocation of citizenship...[and] taking that as a choice to be made, I would have thought that it would be a more severe punishment to send someone in jail, and if it is for war crimes, then likely 20 years or 25 years, or life imprisonment -- than saying -- we revoke your citizenship..."
Our members are eager to hear your reaction to Justice Deschenes' clear and unequivocal preference in favour of the criminal process, as recently stated by him. What do you say?
Revocation of Citizenship is "legally sound and fair"
We note how hurriedly you agree with Mr. Justice McKeown's finding in the Bogutin case wherein the judge concluded the revocation process "in no way diminishes the respondent's right to be treated fairly in strict compliance with the principles of natural justice."
Well, if that is the case, did you agree with the same Justice McKeown in Vitols when he found Vitols did not obtain his citizenship by false representation or fraud or by concealing material circumstances? Three separate Canadian newspapers quoted you as reacting by
* disagreeing with the decision,
* being disappointed in the decision, and
* being upset that Mr. Vitols would be allowed to remain in Canada.
Do you seriously believe these statements do not constitute a flagrant interference with the independence of the judiciary? Any decent Minister respectful of the law would have resigned on the spot.
And you claim the revocation system is "fair"? Then explain these points:
(a) In describing the circumstances surrounding the RCMP interviewing of Mr. Vitols, the Justice stated at page 101:
"The officers, contrary to normal police practice, did not record their questions. They did, however, record part of the answers. Nonetheless, as was stated by Fred Kaufman in his book The Admissibility of Confessions, 2d ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 1974), at 88, '[i]t is important to keep a complete record of all questions and answers, and to avoid the tendency to reduce to writing only that part of a statement which is clearly inculpatory.' Unfortunately, this was not followed by the RCMP officers." [emphasis mine]
(b) On page 102 of the Vitols decision, Justice McKeown summed up RCMP interview tactics thus:
"In my view, this interview was considerably lacking in procedural safeguards." [emphasis mine]
(c) Justice McKeown noted that your prosecutors had, since first subjecting Mr. Vitols to this "fair" revocation process, withdrawn:
* allegations of personal complicity in atrocities against the civilian population, and
* the allegation he was a "high ranking official" in the German war machine.
Is there an explanation of why these two charges were brought in the first place?
(d) Note this piercing observation by the judge at pages 103-4:
"In the case at bar, the Minister is not seeking to show any participation by Mr. Vitols in atrocities against the civilian population. The Minister's case is based on Mr. Vitols' membership in criminal organizations. Notwithstanding this concession, counsel for the Minister from time to time sought me to infer otherwise." [emphasis mine]
Have you disciplined these prosecutors? Please produce a report showing what disciplinary measures you have taken against those responsible for these outrageous, unethical and un-Canadian tactics.
(e) Turning to the Dueck decision, another highly irregular effort by your war crimes unit, what is your exact reaction to the statements by the defence team, as reported in various newspapers? (copy attached)
(f) For a penetrating opinion on the effect of the process you claim is "fair", please provide your reaction to the letter of Dr. D. A. McMillan of Thorold, Ontario. (copy attached)War crimes prosecutions not directed against any particular ethnic group
In your heavy-handed denial that the war crimes unit is not proceeding against one particular ethnic group, you list nine countries of origin of those accused of war crimes by the government. You ignore the reality that only four of the nine have anything to do with Second World War "prosecutions." The real target was and is the Ukrainian community and you know it. We do not see either Russia or Israel on this list. Why not?
As for your claim that your government will take action against any person on war crimes matters if the evidence warrants it, this is an outright misrepresentation on your part. Your government was recently presented with concrete evidence, stemming from John Sack's book An Eye For An Eye. Your "prosecutors" advised you to answer the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association by claiming there was insufficient evidence to proceed. These are the same prosecutors who pressed accusations against Mr. Dueck they knew they had no hope of proving. So, which cases have insufficient evidence? In view of the foregoing, please confirm whether you believe in or reject selective justice.
Your war crimes unit's "successes"
You declare that the war crimes unit has had two "successes." You do not bother to tell the public that Luitgens was already tried in absentia by a competent court in the Netherlands and found guilty there. Extradition was a natural follow-up in that case. That case has nothing to do with illustrating the effectiveness of the denaturalization and deportation policy, over that of criminal proceedings which were a necessary first step to loss of citizenship. So the result is the opposite of what you claim.
That leaves one "success", out of how many of Mr. Sol Litman's 6,000 Nazi war criminals supposedly living in Canada?
As to the two who "consented to revocation," please produce proof they were guilty of war crimes as opposed to them being unable to afford the exorbitant costs of fighting your government.
Mr. Neal Sher
Your justification for retaining Mr. Sher remains morally unsustainable.
(a) You point to over 60 persons having their U.S. citizenship revoked under Mr. Sher's watchful eye. Please produce the number out of these 60 who chose to leave because they could not afford the cost of defending themselves against the might of the United States government. We dare you.
(b) How many of these 60 were deported due to "prosecutorial misconduct that constituted fraud on the court?" In how many instances did Mr. Sher and his cronies perjure themselves, obstruct justice, suborn testimony, and knowingly use forged documents? We challenge you to truly investigate Mr. Sher's conduct.
(c) By delving into the John Demjanjuk case, you have walked into a minefield. You claim that, although a "mistake" was made, this is
* not reflective of O.S.I., and
* not attributable to Mr. Sher.
Both statements are an insult and an affront. O.S.I. has used sinister tactics in the Walus, Artukovich, Bartesh, and Rudolph cases, to mention the most obvious. My earlier correspondence provided plenty of proof, only you chose to ignore these facts.
As to the assertion that the U.S. 6th Circuit Court's investigation (you are referring to Master Thomas Wiseman's whitewash) assists your argument, this ignores the statements of senior U.S. Judges Merritt, Lively, Keith and Matia, all of whom have blasted the Sher-led O.S.I. from top to bottom. Furthermore, your statement that attempts to con Canadians into believing that, while Mr. Sher is not responsible for O.S.I. shortcomings (more accurately, crimes), he is at the very same time to be given full credit for his stewardship of O.S.I. "successes," is preposterous. We suggest you change your correspondence response team, to save yourself further embarrassment.
Your role as Justice Minister
Allow us to comment on the following statement made by you: "As Minister of Justice, I can assure you that I am committed to seeing that all legal proceedings are carried out with the utmost fairness and respect for individual rights. Each potential case is carefully scrutinized to ensure that the nature and quality of evidence warrants the commencement of proceedings. A great deal of sober second thought occurs before any potential case sees the light of day."
If this is the case, why were the key accusations against Vitols dropped? Why did prosecutors directly responsible to you mislead Justice McKeown in that case? Why did your prosecutors proceed against Mr. Dueck knowing they could not possibly expect to have the judge rule the 1948 immigration laws included the right to deny citizenship based on allegedly false information (i.e. screening was obviously not available to immigration officials then)? And why did those prosecutors proceed knowing they were relying on improperly obtained evidence? Is this what you call "utmost fairness?" For shame.
We turn to your comment that you "hope that at least some of our differences will fade in the coming months..." No, Madam Minister, our differences will never fade away. That is because our community, joined by a growing number of disillusioned Canadians, stand for justice, protection of civil liberties, the rule of law and the rejection of selectivity in the treatment of the war crimes and crimes against humanity issues. In contrast, you and your government appear conclusively to rely on the politics of vengeance, and on the dismemberment of civil liberties and the rule of law -- this on the altar of political expediency.
Eugene Harasymiw, LL.B.
Michael Zaleschuk, National President, USRL of Canada (306) 729-2173
John Gregorovich, Chairman, UCCLA (519) 323-9349
Ukrainian Canadian Congress, National Office (204) 947-3882
John Reynolds, MP - Reform Party justice critic (613) 947-4620
Peter McKay, MP - Progressive Conservative justice critic (613) 992-2337