Our organization, Ukrainian Self-Reliance Association, Edmonton Branch, decided to invite this evening's guest speaker principally because the topic of her presentation is one of major importance and urgency to Canadians as a whole, and particularly those who are naturalized (i.e. non-Canadian born). The topic generally concerns citizenship -- one of the most valued concepts and elements of status that an individual can attain. More specifically, the topic will deal with how disturbingly easy it is for a Canadian citizen -- especially one of long standing and of impecable record -- to lose that citizenship as a result of a process about which many Canadians remain blissfully unaware.
I am speaking of denaturalization and deportation, ostensibly of those who are accused of acts of war criminality allegedly committed well over a half century ago in war-torn Europe. It is my submission that denaturalization and deportation, as an administrative process, has been subverted by forces within and beyond Canada whose political agenda has precious little to do with protecting citizenship, and less than nothing to do with the dispensing of justice. That agenda has been allowed to dictate who retains and who loses their fundamental right to Canadian citizenship, who is to be selectively chosen for prosecution and therefore public vilification, and who remains immune, yet whose conduct has hardly been exculpatory. Loss of citizenship, when coupled with its attendant measure -- removal from Canada -- brought about by means of the "d&d" process strikes at the heart of fundamental Canadian values. The result is twofold: debasement of our citizenship, and bringing of one aspect of the administration of justice into abject disrepute.
How does the process work? Based on information supplied from vengeful, murky and sometimes laughable sources, the RCMP begin an investigation into the circumstances of a person's entry into Canada after the Second World War. It is instructive to note that the Canadian government signed an agreement with the government of the former Soviet Union in the late 1980's whereby the Soviet state supplies "information" on individuals which the Canadian government then presents as "evidence" at d&d trials. As Canadians, we must ask (as our organization has done) why our government, in order ostensibly to prosecute war criminals, insists on enlisting the assistance of war criminals?
In any event, once a case has been prepared against an individual, they are served with a document called a Notice of Intention to Revoke Citizenship. This Notice alleges, more often than not, not that the individual committed crimes, but rather that they entered Canada by "false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances".
After the superior resources of the state are pitted against the accused in what is obviously an uneven struggle at preparation, a trial ensues. The purpose of the trial is to determine whether the Judge will rule that the individual illegally gained entry into this country. If that is the finding of the Court, then the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration recommends to a Special Cabinet Committee that the individual be stripped of their citizenship and deported from Canada.
Allow me to point out a number of realities that flow out of the application of the denaturalization and deportation process:
1. the individual is not being tried for committing acts of war criminality; they are on trial for allegedly entering Canada and obtaining citizenship by illegal means.
2. the standard of proof required of the government for the Court to reach a finding adverse to the accused is not the criminal standard i.e. "beyond a reasonable doubt", a very high standard; but proof "on a balance of probabilities"; and more recently an even lower standard has been introduced based on refugee determination criteria stemming from the notion of so-called "complicity".
3. to offset government failures in these cases, the state changes the rules so that the accused is placed at an even greater disadvantage, despite government claims that it is merely making the process "more efficient", to use the words of the former Justice Minister. There has, in short, been a discernible deterioration in the prospects of an accused successfully defending himself. By way of example, during the initial stages the govt. attempted criminal trials (1988 to 1994), resulting in the state losing or abandoning all four cases. In 1995 the govt. switched to "d&d" starting first with accusations of war crimes, then retreating into proceedings with no pretence whatsoever of war criminality. This, despite a promise made by the govt. in Parliament that the state would not proceed against any person unless evidence of war ciminality existed. Under the latest crutch the govt. attempts to show "complicity" on the part of the accused, based on a dubious standard consisting of "serious reasons for considering" that something or other "must have" happened. Bill C-18 in proposed sections 16 and 17 introduces yet further erosion of the civil rights of the accused through:
there is no requirement for the state to reveal to the accused the source of information against him, or even the details! secret court proceedings no right of accused to have counsel present no right of accused to full disclosure of the case against him no right of appeal and so on.
4. Under the current process, Charter rights are unavailable to the accused (this means that foreign nationals and refugee claimants -- neither of which class hold Canadian citizenship have Charter rights extended to them -- while d&d victims do not); and, again, there is no right of appeal. It is little wonder that such a situation draws us to conclude that there exists, indeed, two-tiered citizenship in this country.
Why then should we as Canadians be concerned? Allow me in conclusion to review a few effects of the denaturalization and deportation process:
1. The govt. has attempted to accomplish indirectly what it cannot do directly. And, it will not proceed directly because there is no probative evidence with which to build a substantive case, unless, that is, one regards KGB distortions as "evidence". Besides, legislation already exists to deal effectively with war criminality -- section 7(3.71) of the Criminal Code of Canada deals with war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and so on, and is fully retroactive. Sections 6 to 8 of the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Act (2000), which speaks to these two offences, is also fully retroactive. Despite the fact these legislative means are in place to deal effectively with the matter, the govt. has chosen a "back door" approach -- and it is incumbent that we ask why this is so?
2. The second effect is that, far from enhancing its international image by prosecuting so-called "war criminals", Canada has tarnished its reputation by allowing its court system to be polluted by KGB misinformation and sources or informants in no way accountable for their perfidy. It has also damaged its credibility, and that of the Minister who, over the objections of our community, retained Neal Sher as special advisor to the Justice Dept. in 1998. That's the same Neal Sher who was disbarred recently in the U.S. capitol in the midst of proceedings directed at determining to what extent he had defrauded Holocaust survivors of millions upon millions of dollars.
3. D&d trials have opened the door to the distortion and re-writing of historical truth -- essentially, what has been presented in Canada's courts as the opinion of so-called "experts" is nothing short of historical revisionism. One example from a recent trial concerns an "expert" witness who testified he had examined a document from 1943, which he was unable to produce in Court, but which he claimed contained the term "ethnic cleansing"; he was severely admonished by the presiding judge who correctly pointed out that such inflammatory terminology had not come into popular usage until well after World War II.
4. The demonization and collective defamation of entire ethnic groups -- in this case the Ukrainian and Baltic communities. Although it is unpleasant to imagine it, there is a word for the wholesale maligning of identifiable groups on allegations of shared, derogatory attributes (to use Christopher Dornan's expression) -- and that word is "hate".
5. The perversion of those legal principles that form the bedrock of our Canadian system of justice. The list of legal principles violated under the d&d process includes:
The presumption of innocence The right to due process The right to be tried without unreasonable delay Perversion of the maxim of regularity in the performance of official tasks; and Perversion of the principle against self-incrimination, or what the Supreme Court of Canada recently referred to as "the notion that individuals should not be conscripted by the state to promote a self-defeating purpose" (R. v. Jarvis  3 WWR 197 at p. 232).
The removal of the foregoing basic rights results less in a determination as to the legality of entry of an individual into Canada, than it does in the application of hindsight to what are essentially complex historical situations in which people found themselves a half century ago.
6. The final effect is the one we hear least about. It is the human aspect. That is, how the process affects individuals, their families and loved ones, their circle of friends, and their community. And that is the subject matter of part of our guest speaker's talk.
To introduce our guest speaker, I will call on a member of the Ukr. Self-Reliance Assoc. Edmonton branch banquet committee, and himself a tireless crusader for justice, Dr. Will Zuzak.
Eugene Harasymiw, LL.B.
October 18, 2003