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Ottawa declassifies information on Nazi war criminals in Canada

Photo: Patrick Doyle The Canadian Press Yaroslav Hunka (right), who fought for the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, was welcomed to the House of Commons last fall to hear a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Laura Osman – The Canadian Press and The Canadian Press in Ottawa

11:35 p.m.

  • Canada

The federal government has released previously classified information from a report detailing the extent to which Canada provided refuge for former Nazis during the Cold War.

Ottawa was again called for greater transparency about the presence of war criminals in the country after parliamentarians twice inadvertently gave a standing ovation last fall to a man who fought in a unit Nazi during World War II.

Yaroslav Hunka, who fought for the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, a volunteer unit created by the Nazis to help fight the Soviet Union, was welcomed to the House of Commons last fall to hear a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Researcher Alti Rodal's report, known as the Rodal Report, was prepared as part of a commission of inquiry into war criminals in Canada in 1985. It was intended to provide the commission with policy information and the historical circumstances that led to the presence of Nazi war criminals in Canada.

The report was originally released under the Access to Information Act in heavily censored form in 1987, and more details were made public last summer in response to a request for access to information from the organization B'nai Brith Canada.

The recently published and almost complete version makes public 15 previously classified pages, said Thursday the director of communications for the federal Minister of Immigration, Aïssatou Diop.

“Although additional information that is no longer sensitive due to the passage of time may now be disclosed, certain information remains protected in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act,” said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in a press release Thursday.

No individuals are identified in the newly released version of the document. It does, however, include information that Canada has received in confidence from foreign governments, details previously protected by solicitor-client privilege, as well as information that could harm international affairs and the enforcement of Canadian laws, a explained Ms. Diop.

“People who suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany and their descendants want transparency about this shameful chapter in our history,” Immigration Minister Marc Miller said in a statement.

Rodal's report concluded that in the decade following the war, war criminals and Nazi collaborators had “numerous opportunities” to enter Canada.

B'nai Brith Canada has requested the release of the full document since the 1980s and has filed several requests under the Access to Information Act over the past year, requests which have been repeatedly rejected by the government, according to the group.

“We welcome this almost complete disclosure of the Rodal report,” David Matas, who represented the group at the commission, commented on Wednesday.

Although it has been 79 years since the Second World War and 37 years since Mr. Rodal's work ended, Mr. Matas said the ongoing mass atrocities and the perpetrators' efforts to seek refuge in Canada give contemporary relevance to the report.

“We cannot learn from the past without knowing the past. The almost complete disclosure of the Rodal report is an important step in understanding our past and learning from it for the present,” he argued.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116