[email protected] | Jan. 31, 2003 | W. Zuzak
Last night (Jan. 30, 2003) I participated in a public informational meeting on Bill C-18, the proposed Citizenship of Canada Act, organized by Edmonton lawyer, Bill Pidruchney. The guest speaker was Andrew Telegdi with a supporting cast of myself and Eugene Harasymiw.
About 40 people attended the meeting, expressed their concern and asked very pertinent questions. Many of the attendees were associated with municipal, provincial and federal politics and others were prominent members of various ethnic groups.
My 10 minute presentation on the involvement of the Ukrainian Canadian community in the denaturalization and deportation (d&d) issue is appended below.
Eugene Harasymiw outlined the negative legal aspects of Bill C-18 and the d&d process. He quoted extensively the critical comments of some of the judges involved in the d&d cases. In particular, he referred to retired Justice Roger Salhany's very critical assessment of Judge Andrew MacKay's judgment in the Helmut Oberlander case.
Further details on Mr. Pidruchney's project and presentations to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration will eventually be posted on my web site
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Good evening. I was asked to outline the involvement of the Ukrainian Canadian community in the d&d issue and Bill C-18. Allow me to categorize the issue into two historical phases and three modern phases.
Phase 1 goes back to the Nazi war criminal craze and the Deschenes Commission in 1985. John Sopinka represented the Ukrainian community warning the Commission of the dangers of d&d as practiced by the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in the case of John Demjanjuk in the United States. On March 12, 1987, Justice Minister Ramon Hnatyshyn tabled the Deschenes Commission Report in the House of Commons and announced that there would be no denaturalizations and deportations. The government had opted for a made-in-Canada solution, which would allow for criminal prosecutions of alleged war criminals within Canada. The enabling legislation, Bill C-71, was passed in September, 1987.
Phase 2 from 1987 to 1994 saw several such cases being attempted, the most famous being the Imre Finta case, whose acquittal was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. All cases failed. The jury simply could not be convinced of the guilt of the accused.
Phase 3 commenced in January 1995, when Justice Minister Allan Rock decided to abandon criminal prosecutions and initiate the d&d process that had been rejected in 1987. I must confess that the "official" Ukrainian-Canadian community was asleep at the switch. They did not react immediately and forcefully at that time. Only knowledgeable individuals, like Eugene Harasymiw, myself and others scattered throughout Canada, expressed concern and tried to warn Canadians of the dangers of the d&d process.
These so-called war crimes trials have now morphed into civil processes using lax rules of evidence, a single solitary judge rather than a jury, and an "on a balance of probabilities" rather than a "beyond a reasonable doubt" criterion for conviction. Furthermore, war criminality is no longer the issue. The issue is whether or not an immigration infraction occurred.
Indeed, in the vast majority of cases, the judge has ruled that there is no evidence of war criminality on the part of the accused. For example, in the Helmut Oberlander and Wasyl Odynsky cases, Judge Andrew MacKay ruled that they were not war criminals, had perpetrated no atrocities and had been dragooned to work for the Germans at the point of a gun. Strangely however, he ruled "on a balance of probabilities" that, when immigrating to Canada, they must have misled a visa control officer about what they had done during the war. Both Mr. Oberlander and Mr. Odynsky insist that they were never interviewed by a visa control officer and their testimony is corroborated by thousands of other immigrants who immigrated to Canada at that time.
In light of these facts, I think that it would be fair to accuse Canada's War Crimes Unit of justifying their existence and budget by fraudulently claiming that immigration infractions are somehow equivalent to war criminality. Spending over one million dollars of taxpayers money per case, they are building their careers on the backs of old people like Wasyl Odynsky, who have to spend their life's savings and mortgage their homes to try to defend themselves.
Phase 4, representing a more organized resistance to the d&d process within the Ukrainian community, has no specific starting date. Rather, I attribute it to the efforts of Olya Odynsky to rally the Ukrainian community to defend her father. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has established a Justice Committee to lobby the federal government on the issue. They have prepared briefs for the government and met with Denis Coderre to press the issue. The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association has also become actively involved.
Perhaps the most ambitious project undertaken was a postcard campaign titled Enough is Enough protesting the d&d process addressed to Jean Chretien, Denis Coderre and your local MP. I, personally, have distributed almost 3000 of these cards either to Ukrainian organizations or at various Ukrainian or multicultural functions.
SHOW CARD - READ CONTENT
I think Bill Pidruchney has included samples in the package he gave you. If you haven't already done so, please fill them out and send them in.
On May 01, 2002, Denis Coderre recommended that the citizenship of Wasyl Odynsky be revoked by a Cabinet Special Committee of Council. A letter writing campaign was started, such that when the Committee met on June 12, 2002, the item was tabled until the next meeting on June 19, 2002. By that time, the Committee had received thousands of letters of protest, such that Denis Coderre decided to review the whole d&d issue in detail before reconsidering the revocation of Mr. Odynsky's citizenship.
Here in Alberta, a delegation of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Alberta Provincial council (UCC-APC) has met with Don Boudria and separately with David Kilgour. Both were very sympathetic and appeared to agree with our position. Individuals have approached and talked to Joe Clark and the various Canadian Alliance politicians in Alberta, including Deborah Grey, Peter Goldring, Rahim Jaffer, James Rajotte and Ken Epp. Peter Goldring even distributed a brochure to his constituents on the case of Wasyl Odynsky, highlighting the unfairness of losing one's citizenship on a balance of probabilities. Everyone was supportive of our position on d&d.
Thousands of letters, faxes and emails have been sent to politicians and newspapers. I would say that every politician and newspaper editor in Canada is aware of the Ukrainian community's concern about the d&d process.
We thought we were making progress. How wrong we were!
Phase 5 commenced on Oct. 31, 2002, with the tabling of Bill C-18 in the House of Commons. Imagine my shock when I read its contents. The revocation provisions in Sections 16 to 18 do not reflect the views and pronouncements of our elected representatives. The bureaucrats, who drafted the legislation, seem to have an agenda of their own. Indeed, it is my perception that it is the bureaucrats, rather than our elected representatives, that develop policy, write legislation, set the regulations and then implement and execute them.
Whereas the old d&d provisions appeared to target the Ukrainian, Baltic and Polish communities, the new provisions are certain to be applied to other ethnic communities who fall into disfavor with the bureaucrats running Canada's War Crimes Unit.
These sections attempt to sanction and prolong an existing unacceptable process, as well as introduce new provisions that are best described as precursors to a police state.
I will let Eugene Harasymiw fill you in on some of the gory details.
Will Zuzak, 2003-01-30
Archived as zuzak20030130ChateauLouis.doc