Pierre Trudeau said 'No' to stripping citizenship of alleged Nazi war criminal: report

According to a 617-page report prepared for the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals decades ago, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau did not deport "Subject F," a supposed Nazi war criminal accused of killing 5,128 Jews by firing squad during the Second World War.

Pierre Trudeau said 'No' to stripping citizenship of alleged Nazi war criminal: report
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Mitchell
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The tarnished legacy of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau is once again mired in controversy. As justice minister in 1967, he failed to revoke the citizenship of a former Nazi alleged to have killed thousands of Jews.

According to a 617-page report prepared for the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals decades ago, the elder Trudeau did not take action against “Subject F,” who was supposedly convicted in a Soviet court for massacring 5,128 Jews by a firing squad during the Second World War.

The mostly redacted document is one of several reports investigating Nazi immigration into Canada as part of the Deschênes Commission. Authored by historian Alti Rodal, the redacted version first became public in 1986.

On February 1, the Department of Immigration disclosed a summary of confidential records detailing the arrival of suspected war criminals.

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Canada likely permitted "significant numbers" of Nazi collaborators and war criminals to enter the country after 1945, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. "There can be little doubt that war criminals could have and are likely to have come to Canada in significant numbers in the postwar years," said the report, Nazi War Criminals In Canada: The Historical And Policy Setting From The 1940s To The Present. 

In July 1967, then-justice minister Trudeau provided his legal opinion on deporting “Subject F” at the behest of the USSR. He claimed the case "could not be established."

That November, the elder Trudeau worried about setting a precedent on stripping Canadian citizenships concerning the alleged Nazi war criminal. The Canadian Jewish Congress unsuccessfully lobbied for his deportation, reported CBC News.

"There is nothing in the Act to indicate that an application for Canadian citizenship is in the nature of a confessional requiring the applicant to disclose all prior conduct, whether public or private," wrote the former prime minister. 

At the time, Trudeau appeared to undermine Jewish anxieties, claiming the deportation of “Subject F” is "most ill-advised,” given a Soviet court convicted him of crimes committed in Latvia. 

B’nai Brith, who received a less censored version of the report last June — excluding the elder Trudeau’s verdict — condemned him for "thinking politically." 

"The bringing of mass murderers to justice should not be sidetracked by political considerations," said David Matas, senior legal counsel for B'nai Brith.

Nevertheless, Immigration Minister Marc Miller welcomed the mostly redacted version of the Rodal Report, on behalf of those who suffered under Nazi Germany and their descendants. "More can and should be done to provide transparency," he said.

The Trudeau Liberals have yet to release the secret blacklist of Nazi fugitives despite pressure from Opposition parties. A confidential blacklist of 20 Nazi fugitives recommended for prosecution remains sealed, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.  

"B'nai Brith Canada has been advocating for the release of the entirety of the report of the Deschene Commission’s findings since the 1980s," said the Jewish advocacy group in a statement. According to Nazi War Criminals, 98 known Nazi Party members immigrated to Canada in 1946, including 738 German prisoners of war permitted entry as labourers. 

"During the period from 1946 to 1967 some 620,000 immigrants from European countries where participation in war crimes was extensive were admitted to Canada," said the report. “It would be rash to assume that significant numbers of war criminals and Nazi collaborators did not enter Canada,” it added.

A reporter asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on February 2 why the fender government took so long to unseal the records and when to expect more declassified records. 

"I think people understand that this is both an important part of the historical record, but also one that has implications around privacy, around community cohesion, around the kind of country we are," he said.

"These decisions are ones that are taken responsibly and never lightly."

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