Why is Canada supporting a Nazi battalion in Ukraine?

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I don’t know if you know this, but my family is originally from Ukraine — my great grandparents left there in 1903. They’re from Dnipro, which was once called Dnipropetrovsk.

I grew up in Alberta, which has a lot of Ukrainians. Western Canada was deliberately settled by the Canadian government with Eastern Europeans, who knew how to farm. There are still some communities where German is the first language, and Ukrainian too.

I’m Jewish too, and there were a great number of Jews in the Ukraine until the Holocaust. More than a million were killed.

Here’s a famous photograph, called The Last Jew in Vinnitsa. Whereas in Poland they had concentration camps, in Ukraine it was mobile killing squads, called Einsatzgruppen — deployment groups, in English.

Here’s a picture of the Einzatzgrup taking the women of the town of Mizoch out to shoot them all in the forest.

What a horrific time and place. Obviously the Holocaust was perpetrated by the German Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, and other German Nazis like Adolf Eichmann, who was in charge of the Final Solution. But in the countries that Hitler conquered, there were local politicians and gangs and militias that were only too happy to team up with the Nazis. We know this in western and Northern Europe.

For example, that man on the left is Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian who was happy to collaborate with the Nazis. He was the head of the puppet government. The insult, calling someone a Quisling, isn’t widely used anymore — I think people forget what it means — but for a generation, Vidkun Quisling’s sell-out to the Nazis made his name synonymous with disgraceful disloyalty. To call someone a Quisling.

Well, it happened everywhere. For ideological reasons, or just opportunists taking their opportunities in the moment. If you feel hard done by in a certain regime, and then that regime is conquered by an invader, maybe you like it — because if you collaborate with them, you get to be on top now. And if you enjoy violence, well, it was your moment, wasn’t it? That is an appealing invitation to many young men. It’s how ISIS recruited terrorists to Iraq and Syria — come and do violence to the infidels; come and take rape slaves; come and do everything you’ve ever wanted to do, not just with impunity, but with encouragement and reward.

And so it was with local Nazi sympathizers across Europe. It’s just a fact.

It’s tough to learn about these things as an adult; I can tell you it’s tough to learn about them as a child as well, and I went to Jewish school, and I learned about them as a young boy, and even two of our teachers were concentration camp survivors. Imagine those stories. So you’re a six-year-old kid and you’re learning about the Holocaust, and it’s the first time you even hear about places like Poland — where Auschwitz is; and maybe you hear about Ukraine, about Babi Yar, the ravine where the German Nazis and their local supporters massacred more than 30,000 Jews in two days, in 1941.

You hear these things and they scare you and they colour your views on the world. When I was a child growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I remember there were many Jews who refused to buy German cars because of the Holocaust; I believe that 90% of “Polish jokes” were a kind of revenge by Jewish comedians against the place where so many Jews were killed.

And I say all this because I like Germans. And I like Germany. And although I haven’t been to Ukraine, I grew up amongst countless Ukrainian Canadians in Alberta — how could you not? And so the bitter history of the Holocaust met the reality of life two generations later. We’re all friends now here in Canada; and though I believe in remembering the past and learning from it, we cannot engage in collective guilt. I believe that there were Nazis in Germany and Nazis throughout the world who collaborated with them; but I also know that there were many “righteous gentiles” who saved Jews, like Oskar Schindler, like the family that hid Anne Frank. The world is complicated. But we live in 2022, not 1942. We must try to love each other. We can all agree that Nazism was evil. My real worry, to tell you the truth, is that nobody even knows what a Nazi is, what the Holocaust is.

Nazi is just an insult that Trudeau uses against truckers, right? Nazi is just what you’re called, like racist, sexist, anti-gay, transphobic, right? I mean, seriously, if we sent reporters out to the centre of the city and asked random people who fought in the Second World War, do you think they would know? If you asked who won, do you think they would know? I’m not saying you and I are smarter than anyone; I’m saying that things fade in time; people are interested in their own lives; new immigrants to Canada from non-traditional sources of immigration, like from Africa or Asia, don’t know the history of the European holocaust. I doubt they studied the Holocaust in school — they don’t really study anything in school.

So it’s all sort of faded away.

I’m conservative, you might call me right wing though that doesn’t mean much these days, and I’ve travelled widely in Canada (at least until the unvaccinated no fly list was brought in by Trudeau, who implied that unvaccinated people are tantamount to Nazis). There won’t be a no-fly list over Ukraine — that really would provoke a Third World War. But Trudeau bravely imposes a no-fly list over Canada.

I’ve travelled to nine provinces and two territories, and I meet a lot of people, and I run in populist conservative circles, and I talk to a lot of people online, and I have to tell you that in my 50 years I have never met a Nazi in Canada, never seen a real Nazi, not once, ever. It’s not in our national history, it’s not part of our culture, it’s not real. Oh, there are a few pretenders — people who get a tattoo or people who hide in their basements filming themselves on a cell-phone saying heil Hitler.

They do it for shock and awe — as rebellion, against society, against their parents, against the world because they’re frustrated by things, or simply because they know it’s a bad thing, and they want to show they will do bad things. I told you I went to Jewish school as a kid, but then I went to a school in the country, west of Calgary, and obviously my sister and I were the only Jews there. And it was there that I first encountered a kid scrawling a swastika into a desk — I was shocked, I was hurt, here was the symbol that I had been taught was a sign of violent death — but the kid who scrawled it, when I challenged him, he literally didn’t know what it was, he had no clue, he didn’t know what it was called, he didn’t know what it meant, he just saw it and knew it was bad to do, like if he drew a naked lady or a swear word.

And I tell you that shocking but harmless encounter as a child was the most anti-Semitic, Nazi thing I have seen in all of my travels in this country. Canada is not racist, Ukrainians and Germans are not racist, they’re not Nazis, in fact they’re quite liberal and tolerant, in fact, I think sometimes that Germans in particular are still reacting to their past and in some ways even punishing themselves for what their grandparents did. They’re too liberal now, as if it will balance things out.

Ten minutes of personal stories, but I want to make it clear to you that I am sensitive to Nazis and anti-Semitism and I care about the Holocaust and have visited the Holocaust museums and memorials in Israel and Washington D.C. several times, it’s on my mind, it’s part of who I am, but it’s in the background.

And it bothers me deeply when liberals like Justin Trudeau and his deputy Chrystia Freeland and the rest of the fools in the Liberal Party throw around words like Nazi so cavalierly,  because what they are doing is taking the chilling, shocking horrific evil of the Nazis — here is another picture of the Einsatzgruppen in Russia — and using it as a talking point, as a little heckle, just something to fill the daily chatter news with. They’re profaning it; like a very sharp knife that must remain sharp, but they dull it with overuse.

No, the truckers aren’t Nazis. That was the worst. An Israeli Jew trotted out to compare horn honking to saying heil Hitler. If you’ve got to engage in those kind of mental gymnastics, sister, to find Nazis where there are none, you live in a pretty safe place. There are no real Nazis in Canada. Which is why demand exceeds supply, which is why hustlers and hucksters and race-baiters like the SPLC and the so-called CAHN work so constantly to promote hate hoaxes. There just aren’t enough real incidents of hate. The CAHN was actually paid more than a quarter million dollars to dig up “hate” and then make public complaints about it. To gin it up.

They’ll call anyone a Nazi.

So here I am now, having taken up all of your time and I have not yet told you what I want to tell you. I want to tell you about real Nazis in Canada. I didn’t think there were any, because I hadn’t met any, certainly not amongst the Conservative party or the PPC or the truckers. But there have been a few, a few who sneaked in. One of them was named Michael Chomiak. He was one of those local collaborators with the Nazis. He ran a pro-Nazi newspaper. And he just happened to be Chrystia Freeland’s grandfather. Freeland, the deputy prime minister.

Now you cannot blame someone for what their grandfather did, before they were even born. That’s not fair, that’s not right. And that’s what I would say to all Germans, all Ukrainians. But Freeland actively covered up her grandfather’s crimes. She hid them. She covered for him.

And she’s been, well, if not a Nazi — I won’t casually call her that, in the same manner she called truckers that — she’s been awfully sympathetic to Nazi collaborators, past and present. Here’s a story from our friends at True North showing Chrystia Freeland holding up the colours of blood and soil — the colours of the Bandera Movement, a Nazi movement in Ukraine. Freeland was caught, and she deleted the tweet, but not before it was captured.

OK, could happen to anyone. I suppose. But Freeland is pretty deep into Ukrainian nationalism — no problem, I believe in nationalism. She has an apartment in Ukraine — that’s wonderful, I wish I had one too. Here’s where I learned that, as she talks about her grandparents, and all she learned form them — by this point, she was still keeping her grandfather’s Nazism a secret. She actually has the temerity to claim her family fled Nazism. No, sister. Your grandfather was a Nazi.

Fine. Family is family. And things in the past were muddy. We’ve talked before about how everyone would say they’d be that one guy in the crowd not sieg-heiling Adolf Hitler. But we know that’s not true. Because we’ve watched in the past two years how most people have absolutely gone along with everything awful, nothing like the Nazi Holocaust, but brutal treatment of dissidents; segregation; dehumanization; jailing pastors; telling us who we can meet, and how many of us who can meet, and who can say what, and who can work where, and that you must submit to the state or be fired. It’s not the Nazism of Babi Yar in 2021. But it’s the Nazism of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. Yes it absolutely is. And what you did these past two years is a good approximation of what you might have done had you been around in that terrible place at that terrible time.

I’d prefer not to talk about Ukraine and Germany and Poland and Russia during the Holocaust; certainly not to my Ukrainian and German and Polish and Russian friends. I want to learn from the past but not be trapped by it, and certainly not to be turned hateful because of it. I love Canadians and I love Alberta where I grew up and I’m deeply grateful that I grew up there, amongst Ukrainians and Scots and Mormons and the Indian reserve not far away. I was far luckier to be born in 1972, I think, than people being born in 2002. I think that’s true.

But let’s not talk about history or blame for things past, or collective guilt. Let’s talk about today. And I don’t even mean Chrystia Freeland hiding her past, or lying about it. I mean what she’s doing now, and what Canada is doing now.

Look at this story from the Ottawa Citizen, just a few months ago:

Canadian officials who met with Ukrainian unit linked to neo-Nazis feared exposure by news media: documents
A year before the meeting, Canada’s Joint Task Force Ukraine produced a briefing on the Azov Battalion, acknowledging its links to Nazi ideology.

The Azov Battalion. So this isn’t just Chrystia Freeland’s personal life now. This is government policy. We’re meeting with Nazi paramilitaries — just like the nazi paramilitaries who worked with Hitler’s Nazis at Babi Yar.

Let me read a bit:

Canadian officials who met with members of a Ukrainian battalion linked to neo-Nazis didn’t denounce the unit, but were instead concerned the media would expose details of the get-together, according to newly released documents.

The Canadians met with and were briefed by leaders from the Azov Battalion in June 2018. The officers and diplomats did not object to the meeting and instead allowed themselves to be photographed with battalion officials despite previous warnings that the unit saw itself as pro-Nazi. The Azov Battalion then used those photos for its online propaganda, pointing out the Canadian delegation expressed “hopes for further fruitful co-operation.”

Oh. Wow. But it wasn’t just meetings. It was training.

Allegations of Canadian troops training neo-Nazis and war criminals sparks military review
A review into how Canada approves the foreign military personnel its trains should be ready by early next year but parts of the study will need to remain secret.

The review comes as a Jewish group in Ukraine is highlighting a new video of Ukrainian paratroopers singing a song to honour Stepan Bandera. Bandera was a anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator whose organization is linked to the murder of more than 100,000 Jews and Poles during the Second World War. He is revered in Ukrainian nationalist and far-right circles.

The Canadian military was warned in 2015 before starting its Ukraine training mission about the dangers of the far-right within the Ukrainian military ranks, but the senior leadership largely ignored those concerns.

Stepan Bandera — that’s Chrystia Freeland’s hero. She carries a scarf for him.

Now let me be crystal clear: the Azov Battalion does not represent all of Ukraine or all Ukrainians. And frankly, even if it did, that doesn’t excuse a war against Ukraine that is brutal and deadly and invasive and imperialistic, led by Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent who seeks to rebuild the Russian Empire. But when Putin claims that one of his aims is to de-Nazify Ukraine, he’s not talking about it like Ya’ara Saks, saying honk honk is the sign of a Nazi takeover. He’s talking about armed militias.

Honk honk isn’t a real thing. But real Nazis with real military gear and real military battalions — that is a real thing. And it looks like the Canadian military was actually training them, possibly supplying them. I’m not saying that’s justification for an invasion, though it is very, very odd, isn’t it. I’m just saying, it’s a real factor. If you try to google anything about the subject, you’ll note that it’s quite hard to find Putin’s case against the Azov Battalion — Google will not let you find them; they’ll give you a hundred links to “fact checks” or rebuttal to Putin’s case, many of which point out the obvious — that Ukraine’s president is himself Jewish, Volodymr Zelynsky, so obviously it can’t be true, right? Well, it is true, even if it is weird.

They don’t often use the German Nazi flag. Why would they — they’re Ukrainian. They use their own symbol. They use another Nazi symbol called the Black Sun.

Here’s Catherine McKenna, the disgraced former cabinet minister, giving a shout-out to some pretty Ukrainian girls on Women’s Day a couple of days ago when I pointed out on Twitter that the girls in the top left were wearing that Nazi symbol, the Black Sun, she deleted the tweet, just like Chrystia Freeland did.

It’s not just the Azov Battalion. Here’s another one. Don’t take it from me. Take it from the BBC. Here’s a documentary they made three years ago. Just watch the first minute or two.

Here’s a major pro-Ukraine news outlet, showing the delivery of Javelina anti-tank missiles to the Azov battalion.

Zoom in on the photo on the right — look at that guy’s arm patch. He’s a Nazi. Not a honk honk pretend trucker Nazi who doesn’t exist. A real Nazi.

Here’s something you might not see everyday in Canada — the NATO flag, the Azov flag, and the German Nazi flag.

This is normalized. Here’s Ilia Ponomarenko, the editor of the Kyiv Independent. And he was sworn in as an honoary member of the Azov battallion.

Some of his “writers” are in the battalion too.

Here he is, happy to tweet the Azov battalion and its Nazi-style logo in the picture. I should tell you, Chrystia Freeland has given hundreds of thousands of Canadian tax dollars to the Kyiv Independent. Oh — you didn’t think Trudeau’s media bail-out was just for Canadians, did you?

And now let me end this story as I began it. I don’t like war, I don’t like Putin, I don’t like civilian casualties. I don’t like propaganda, but I have a very difficult time sorting through rumours and lies from the truth — on all sides.

But one thing I am seeing so often is that there really are Nazi paramilitaries in Ukraine. It’s not most people. It’s not all people. It’s not most people who care about Ukraine. But they are there. They really are. It’s happening often enough that Liberal MPs are casually tweeting pictures of them.

Here’s a CTV story — they promoted a Nazi battalion, but didn’t recognize their insignia.

Look at how they back-pedaled:

CTV News Vancouver aired a story Tuesday that included an image of two female Ukrainian soldiers who were wearing an offensive symbol on their uniforms, which was regrettably not recognized before being broadcast. The image has been removed from our coverage.

An offensive symbol? What, like a swear word or a naked person? Offensive like that? Why the weird vagueness — what was the image? Why won’t they say it?

Well, because they want to pretend that it’s not happening. That there are no Nazis there. They want to pretend that the only Nazis are here in Canada — at the truckers convoy. You know, the ones saying honk honk.

You know, the official hate-finders, they go nuts to find Nazis where there are none. You know the groups — the SPLC, the CAHN. I went to both of their websites today — complete silence on the actual, real, armed, paramilitary Nazis in Ukraine that western powers are arming and training and promoting.

I don’t get it. I mean, maybe I understand it coming from Chrystia Freeland — these are her grandfather’s people. But I really don’t get it. You can be for Ukraine but against the Nazis. I think that’s the best way to be. I just find it bizarre and crazy and troubling that the most real Nazis left on earth — really, are there any actual Nazis anywhere else — have been officially deemed the good guys. No, I don’t think they are.

I’m not going to claim that all Ukrainians are like these folks. I want to believe, and I think I do believe, that they are a small fringe — that’s the language Trudeau used to talk about the truckers, right, a small fringe with unacceptable views?

So when we really do have a small fringe of Nazis with unacceptable views, shouldn’t we condemn them? Or at least — just brainstorming here — maybe stop arming them and training them and tweeting them?

Remember this when they call you a Nazi next time.

GUEST: Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Dr. Leslyn Lewis (follow @LeslynLewis on Twitter).

To learn more about Leslyn's campaign, visit LeslynLewis.ca.

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