Irwin Cotler | Jan. 01, 2004 | Eugene Harasymiw
AUSRL position on d&d policy

January 1, 2004       Faxed to: (514) 283-2407

Hon. Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
4770 Kent Ave., Ste. 316
Montreal, Quebec
H3W 1H2

Dear Sir:

Our organization, formed in 1937, has expressed its opposition to the Liberal government's "denaturalization and deportation" policy since its inception in January, 1995. The reasons for our opposition are well documented in correspondence to your predecessors in Justice, as well as to Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentarians of all parties.

Now that you have assumed command of the Justice portfolio, we are requesting that you scrap the "d & d" process being used ostensibly against alleged "war criminals" who are, in fact, nothing of the sort.

We believe it would be helpful to remind you that continuation of the "d & d" program would place you in a serious conflict of interest situation. On the one hand, you appeared as a strong advocate for "government action" on the issue of alleged "war criminals" during the Deschenes Commission hearings in 1985-86, during which time you pressed arguments before Justice Deschenes which he reacted to, in part, as follows:

  • "One wonders how such a debate can arise" [re: utility of the War Crimes Act] at p. 117
  • "No one [except the Canadian Jewish Congress which you represented] can conceivably deny that this is legislation designed for military trials in times of war" at p. 119
  • "…[the arguments you put forward are] neither compelling nor persuasive" at p. 121
  • "The Commission is not impressed by the argument of Messrs. Silverstone, Narvey and Cotler that a retroactive character is given to the Act …" at p. 123
  • "Here is a telling example of a pointless exercise in legal gymnastics. Intent on getting their way and obtaining the amendment of any law at any cost, the proponents of the amendment of the War Crimes Act put the Act under the microscope of legal research…" at p. 156.
  • And so on.

    On the other hand, by assuming the mantle of Justice Minister, you purport to represent all Canadians and the interests of justice for every one of us. The two positions are diametrically incompatible.

    In addition, your estimates of the number of alleged "war criminals" in Canada made publicly varied from 75 to 100 (November 6, 1982 in the Toronto Star) to 1,000 (April 13, 1983 in La Presse). Perhaps you can explain the ten-fold increase in your public musings on the topic? Of those 1,000 that you were quoted as estimating, can you name one who has been found to be a genuine war criminal by the Canadian justice system?

    While you are announcing the cessation of this mindless witch-hunt directed squarely at the Ukrainian and East European communities in Canada and abroad, you are honour-bound to also do the following:

    1. Provide the public with specifics on how many of the 209 names you provided to the Deschenes Commission as alleged "war criminals" have been prosecuted to date.

    2. In view of your position on the dangers of using "evidence" taken from Soviet or KGB sources, announce the cancellation of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Soviet [and now Russian] government dated December 30, 1987.

    3. Issue a public apology and disassociation with Neal Sher, the individual hired by Minister Anne McLellan to assist the Justice department, in view of Mr. Sher's utterly reprehensible and appalling behaviour involving Holocaust survivors, for which he was recently disbarred and publicly disgraced, thus tainting any advice he provided the Canadian government; alternatively, explain why, in order for the Canadian government to pursue criminals, they would feel compelled to hire one.

    Considering your reputation as an avowed civil libertarian, you are in a unique position to ensure that Canada's justice system does not fall further into disrepute.

    Yours truly,

    Eugene Harasymiw, LL.B.
    President
    Ukrainian Self Reliance League
    Edmonton Branch

    Cc:
    Hon. Paul Martin, Prime Minister   (514) 367-5533
    Stephen Harper, Leader of the Opposition (403) 253-8203
    The Editor, Toronto Star     [email protected]