Ukrainian News | Jun. 16-28, 2004 | Editorial

Hawn best bet to defeat D & D advocate

It is an ironic twist of justice that Allan Rock, the initiator of the Denaturalization and Deportation (D & D) policy has been replaced as the Liberal candidate in Etobicoke Centre by Borys Wrzesnewskyj, a vociferous critic of this assault on the civil liberties of Canadians of East European (and especially Ukrainian) origin.

But if Allan Rock is the one who initiated this policy, then Anne MacLellan is the one who spent the most time on it.

McLellan inherited this policy from Rock, but she pursued it zealously as Minister of Justice and, according to statements made before the House Standing Committee, is now responsible for it as Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Back in 1997, McLellan was warned by the Ukrainian community against hiring the former Director of the U.S. Office of Special Investigations, Neal Sher, as a special consultant to the Canadian War Crimes Unit of her department, because Sher had been found to have committed "fraud upon the court" in the John Demjanjuk case by withholding evidence that would have proved Demjanjuk innocent of the charge he was the infamous "Ivan the Terrible". She proceeded to hire him anyway. Later Sher was disbarred for having allegedly defrauded Holocaust victims.

She was repeatedly told by the Ukrainian community that the whole D & D policy was unjust because it victimized respondents without the need to prove that they committed any war crimes whatsoever. And this, after all, was the stated purpose of this policy. She ignored these justifiable objections.

She was also told that it was totally wrong to try to introduce evidence obtained by the KGB through torture into Canadian courts. Her department's lawyers proceeded to do so regardless.

Now, the Federal Court of Appeals has unanimously rejected this policy on the very same grounds that the Ukrainian community had continuously told McLellan that it should be rejected - namely that there is no evidence of any war crimes.

What is particularly amazing about McLellan's refusal to take these very serious concerns about a judicial abuse of civil liberties into consideration is her resume.

From 1976 to 1980, McLellan was an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of New Brunswick. In 1980, she moved to Edmonton to take a position as Associate Professor of Law at the University of Alberta. She served as Associate Dean of the University's Faculty of Law between 1985 and 1987. From July 1991 to June 1992, she was Acting Dean.

McLellan's experience also includes past membership on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Alberta Legal Aid.

With such a record she obviously should have known better. But she consciously decided to ignore this abuse of civil liberties in order to fulfill a political agenda. For this, she deserves defeat.

Some may argue that we need McLellan as a strong voice in cabinet. There are several things wrong with this assumption. Number one, it assumes the Liberals will form the next government, which is very much up in the air at the present moment. Number two, it ignores the fact that even if the Liberals do form the next government and David Kilgour is the only Liberal elected in Alberta, the Prime Minister will have no choice but to reappoint Kilgour to cabinet - and not just in a junior role. Number three, if someone with such a legal background can ignore such obvious abuses of civil liberties as the D & D policy involves - then what kind of representative is she?

Conservative Laurie Hawn is in the best position to defeat her. In terms of strategic voting he is the best bet.

We do not have much information about him at present, but we can state that he gave an impressive performance at the election forum sponsored by the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club of Edmonton and showed himself to be well aware of the issues that concern our community. All of which indicates he should be a very good representative for our community.