Jean Chretien | Apr. 13, 1998 | Eugene Harasymiw
George Thomson's letter re Neal Sher

11024 - 82 Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 0T2
ph. (780) 431-9855; fax (780) 457-5170

April 13, 1998     Faxed to: (613) 941-6900

Hon. Jean Chretien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

Our organization, founded in 1927, represents the lay interests of the Ukrainian Orthodox community in Canada. As such it is one of the family of Ukrainian organizations in this country whose members, as your advisors well know, are the ultimate target of efforts currently being conducted by your Justice Minister's special departmental unit taking action against so-called war criminals.

The matter at hand involves the retention by Ms. Anne McLellan of an American by the name of Neal Sher and the adoption by your government of denaturalization and deportation as a method of ridding Canada of alleged war criminals.

In September and November 1997, our organization had alerted Ms McLellan to the obvious dangers of hiring Mr. Sher. The Justice Minister had also arranged to meet with me (Nov. 13, 1997), ostensibly to hear our community's case against the use of Mr. Sher's services. On Dec. 13, 1997, in a constituency populated by those eagerly receptive to the issue and in the presence of a pre-briefed media, Ms. McLellan proudly made the announcement that her department had hired Mr. Sher, despite our objections.

On January 15, 1998 Ms. McLellan's Deputy, George Thomson, provided our organization with a long letter explaining the government's position. That letter has been given wide circulation by our organization, and the responses received by this office have been unanimously against the sentiments expressed by the Deputy.

I would like to address six issues raised by Mr. Thomson.

A. Nature of Work of War Crimes Unit that Mr. Sher is Assisting

Mr. Thomson refers to the hiring of Mr. Sher "as a consultant to assist the Canadian War Crimes Unit's efforts to bring to justice war criminals and others who have committed reprehensible acts during time of war." Such a statement, as an official expression of your government's policy, deserves closer scrutiny.

1. In the first place, Mr. Thomson has chosen to misuse the term "war criminal." That term is defined in section 7 (3.76) of the Criminal Code. If your government's special unit is engaged in prosecuting "war criminals" then that must mean the intention is to deal with such persons under the Criminal Code. Of course, your government has been convinced by intense lobbying to drop the criminal process, which had been deemed perfectly acceptable and workable for a decade, and opt instead for the "easier" denaturalization and deportation route.

Incidentally, has your government ever explained to Canadians why the definition of "war criminal" includes only those acts committed "during an international armed conflict"? Could it be to protect the perpetrators of massive crimes against humanity committed during the Soviet era? Which ethnic grouping in Canada would today be shielded by such exclusivity? Would you care to name them?

2. Secondly, who exactly are the "others" Mr. Thomson refers to? Would they be those who are accused of "crimes against humanity"? If so, then you should be reminded that the Criminal Code definition of that term specifies "murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, privation or other inhumane acts." Therefore, if your special unit cannot produce direct evidence of either of these categories of actual crimes, then the objective of their activities has nothing to do with bringing war criminals, or anyone else, to justice.

3. I challenge Mr. Thomson (and your government) to explain the precise meaning of "reprehensible acts." Are reprehensible acts criminal acts? If so, they should result in the application of the criminal process and should be spelled out in advance with precision. If not, the search for those who purportedly committed them is a sham, since a reprehensible act becomes any act an immigration official decides is reprehensible. In short, the issue here is "reprehensible" to whom? To a specific lobby group?

4. Can your government, once again, explain why your search for "justice" is restricted to acts allegedly committed "during time of war"? Please specify who it is that you are protecting that may have committed crimes other than during time of war and is in Canada today? Could this have anything to do with recent arrivals from, say, the Middle East, where criminal acts against Palestinians abound?

To summarize, sir, your government has adopted the indefensible policy of pursuing an extremely select group of individuals, from a narrow period of world history, who face allegations that have not stood and cannot stand the test of the application of the criminal trial process before a jury. Such a policy is motivated not by a desire to bring anyone to justice, but to appease the political agenda and apparently insatiable vengeance of a coterie of advisors indulging in outbursts of historical revisionism at the expense of our community.

B. Opportunity to Present Concerns/Adequacy of Government Inquiries

Mr. Thomson dutifully claims that the Justice Department had already been investigating the matters raised in my Sept. 21, 1997 letter by the time they received it. We thank Mr. Thomson for the admission that your government was aware of the risks of hiring Mr. Sher at that time. Unfortunately, I submit to you that what your government was then engaged in had less to do with checking out legitimate concerns than it did with building a case to block those very concerns and sweep them from public view.

In a truly baseless remark, Mr. Thomson claims that our organization (and by inference our community) had ample opportunity to present our concerns to the government. However, he offers no credible explanation as to why your government refused to contact the short list of persons I put forward at Minister McLellan's request who are in a position to evaluate Mr. Sher and his Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and, what is now crystal clear, its reprehensible tactics and dubious achievements.

Therefore, I ask you to explain how you and your Justice Minister can defend the claim that your government conducted an adequate inquiry into Mr. Sher and the OSI when:

  1. no contact was made with Congressman James Traficant of Ohio (Ms. McLellan could not speak to him politician-to-politician?)

  2. no contact was made with John Broadley in Washington as to the Freedom of Information Act antics of the OSI?

  3. no contact whatsoever was attempted with any defence counsel for accused Americans, such as Paul Zumbakis, Paul Chumak, Yoram Sheftel, or a host of others?

  4. no effort was made to determine the background to the investigations currently under way into Mr. Sher's actions in the Artukovic miscarriage?

  5. no effort to contact the world class experts who testified or could have testified as to the fake evidence knowingly utilized by Mr. Sher and the OSI (i.e. W. Wegenaar, Julius Grant, Elizabeth Loftus, etc., etc.)?

C. The John Demjanjuk Case

Mr. Thomson then engages in a spirited defence of OSI action in the now celebrated case of John Demjanjuk. His unswerving devotion to the anti-Demjanjuk (read here the anti-Ukrainian) cabal is illustrated in his distorted interpretation of the United States Sixth Circuit Court's ruling of Nov. 17, 1993. His statement that the Court did not overturn the Special Master's conclusion that OSI attorneys had acted in good faith is patently erroneous. Perhaps he and his advisors should re-read that case, as in:

  1. page 24: "The Special Master based his ultimate conclusion that Demjanjuk failed to prove fraud on the court almost exclusively on his finding that the OSI attorneys acted in good faith." [emphasis is mine]

  2. page 32, which is the only significant place where the higher court agreed with the Special Master: "...we agree with Judge Wiseman that a scheme, based on a subjective intent to commit fraud, is not required in a case such as this. Reckless disregard for the truth is sufficient." Which is exactly what that court went on to hold.

  3. page 40, where the court gives its findings in unmistakable language as to the actions of the OSI in obtaining judgment against Demjanjuk as being "wrongly procured as a result of prosecutorial misconduct that constituted fraud on the court."

  4. and particularly page 31, where the Court described in clear language what they regarded as the fraud committed by OSI: "Fraud upon the court should...embrace only that species of fraud which does or attempts to, subvert the integrity of the court itself, or is a fraud perpetrated by officers of the court so that the judicial machinery cannot perform in the usual manner its impartial task of adjudging cases that are presented for adjudication, and relief should be denied in the absence of such conduct."

It is in the second paragraph on page 2 of his letter to me that Minister McLellan's Deputy reveals his department's active collusion with OSI. Mr. Thomson makes the statement that the Israeli Supreme Court "ruled" that John Demjanjuk had been an "active participant" in "extermination and mass murder." Well, if that is the case, then why was he found not guilty of the charges that were before that court? Mr. Sher and his henchmen have had 22 years to convict Demjanjuk of war crimes. Has your government asked itself why OSI has not been able to do so? Has it occurred to your government that it may be because, after over two decades of having the full weight of the United States government, the State of Israel and the KGB and its successor behind it, the OSI cannot convict Mr. Demjanjuk because there is no probative evidence to substantiate their wild claims?

Mr. Thomson then adopts the following position: that, by virtue of "thoroughly tested and authenticated war time documents" Demjanjuk's role in war crimes "is not open to legitimate question." By so stating, Mr. Thomson is declaring that John Demjanjuk is guilty of war crimes. Can you please explain to me how it is that a Deputy Minister of Justice for Canada can make a ruling on the guilt or innocence of a foreign national whose case is effectively still before the courts in that foreign country? Can Mr. Thomson and Ms McLellan produce evidence to this effect? If Mr. Sher and the OSI are the leading Nazi hunters, as Ms McLellan has publicly boasted, then why have 22 years of efforts not produced a single tangible result in the Demjanjuk case? Does Ms. McLellan mean to claim that this is efficiency?

D. Your Government's Praise of OSI

In the third paragraph on page 2, Mr. Thomson goes to great lengths to praise and defend the OSI. Apparently, he finds the denaturalization of 60 people in the U.S. a laudable statistic. If Mr. Thomson chose to inquire further, he would discover that the vast majority of those 60 persons, when faced with the prospect of expensive court action to defend themselves against the limitless resources of the state, chose to give up and leave America voluntarily, rather than go broke. What does this have to do with justice?

Did Mr. Thomson point out that, in the U.S., people charged with criminal offences who cannot pay their defence costs get the state to pay those costs? Did he point out that such state assistance is not available in non-criminal cases, such as the denaturalization and deportation process that your Liberal government has imported from America? Did Mr. Thomson point out the other bullying, intimidation and illegal tactics employed by OSI in getting their results? Did he mention the use of knowingly false evidence? the subornation of witnesses? the withholding of exculpatory evidence? and the host of other dirty tricks that Mr. Sher has perfected?

Several specifics. Did Mr. Thomson's staff inquire of:

  • the meeting of Nov. 19, 1983 between Assistant Attorney General Trott, OSI attorneys led by Neal Sher and three defence attorneys at which Soviet manipulation of OSI utilized evidence was first revealed?

  • the OSI Feb. 8, 1985 brief in the Artukovic case which attempted to prevent defence counsel from introducing evidence that the affidavit which condemned the accused was, in actual fact, perjured?
  • To illustrate his point that OSI "receive praise from many quarters, including the courts," Mr. Thomson then quotes a pitiful passage from one of the "Nazi" cases to prove his point. Allow me to level the playing field. The following are quotations from United States courts, commenting directly on OSI attorneys and their trade-mark tactics:

    1. United States v. Kungys, 571 F. Supp. 1104 (N.J. Dist. Court, 1983) Debevoise J. stated:

  • "The government's [OSI's] methods of questioning the witnesses compounded the difficulties created by the [Soviet] procurator's sweeping generalized questions. The government [OSI] attorneys persisted time and again to pose blatantly leading questions, drawing upon the protocols which the witnesses had signed and upon the answers which the witnesses had given to the procurator's questions." (page 1128)

  • With respect to cross-examination process, actions of OSI attorneys constituted a totally unwarranted limitation of cross-examination..." (page 1128)

  • "On occasion the OSI attorneys impeded defence counsel's efforts to obtain information about prior statements given by the witnesses, making silly objections, then compounding the difficulties of defence counsel [who confronted the opponents.]" (page 1129)

  • In open disregard and disobedience of an earlier court order concerning conduct of examination of witness, the OSI knowingly used "translations that were skewed to throw a favorable light upon Soviet procedures and to cast the most favorable light possible upon the witnesses' testimony implicating defendant." (page 1129)

  • As for OSI responsibility to ensure evidence is not coerced, "the government [OSI] has not fulfilled its responsibilities in this regard in this case." (page 1132)

  • As to failure to turn over evidence that could have been exculpatory, "the government [OSI] cannot excuse its failure to turn this material over to defendant..." (page 1132)
  • 2. U.S. v. Kowalchuk, 581 F. Supp. 72 (Penn. Dist. Court, 1983) Fullam, J. stated:

  • "The notion that only selected witnesses favorable to the government [OSI] have been permitted to testify (and with the opportunity for informed and meaningful cross-examination severely restricted) is not easily squared with accepted concepts of due process of law." (page 80)
  • 3. Demjanjuk v. Petrovsky et al. (Nov. 17, 1993)
    Senior Circuit Judge Lively, speaking for the rest of the three judge panel:

  • "...we hold that the OSI attorneys acted with reckless disregard for the truth and for the government's obligation to take no steps that prevent an adversary from presenting his case fully and fairly. This was fraud on the court in the circumstances of this case where, by recklessly assuming Demjanjuk's guilt, they failed to observe their obligation to produce exculpatory materials requested by Demjanjuk." (page 35)

  • Commenting on the influence "Jewish organizations" (the Judge's words) played on the OSI approach: "It is obvious from the record that the prevailing mindset at OSI was that the office must try to please and maintain very close relationships with various interest groups because their [OSI's] continued existence depended upon it." (page 37)
  • 4. United States v. Demjanjuk (Feb. 20, 1998) Judge Paul Matia:

  • In evaluating the government's case against Demjanjuk stated that "OSI attorneys acted with reckless disregard for their duty to the Court and their discovery obligations in failing to disclose the interview with Reimer and the existence of the memorandum concerning it, and this behavior constitutes further fraud upon the Court." [emphasis mine] (page 14)

  • On the "magnitude of the offence" (Court's words) that the Court found OSI directly responsible for, Judge Matia stated: "Doubt cast upon the fairness of one judicial proceeding infects the whole justice system. Such behavior,whether or not intentional, must not be tolerated. The sanction for it must be appropriately severe." (page 15)
  • 5. In a November 14, 1997 Israeli newspaper interview, Chief Judge Gilbert Merritt, commenting directly on OSI conduct in Demjanjuk, stated:

    "Today we know that they -- the OSI, the prosecution in the [Demjanjuk] case and the State Department -- lied through their teeth [emphasis mine]. Even then they knew without a doubt that Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible, but they hid the information from us; I am sorry that I did not have the information at the time. If I did, we would never have ruled in favor of his extradition to Israel...[what happened in my courtroom] was nothing short of a witch hunt. In retrospect, it reminds me of the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts 300 years ago. The prosecution, counseled by the OSI [led by Neal Sher], presented documents and witnesses whose testimony was based on emotions and hysteria, but not hard evidence. To my regret, we believed them. This instance is a prime example of how justice can be distorted." (Ha'aretz newspaper)

    Did your Ms McLellan ever have occasion to ask Mr. Sher about his insistence that a certain "eye-witness" used by OSI in a Florida case be used by the prosecution against Demjanjuk in Israel? That, for your information, was the witness who testified adamantly under oath in the Israeli trial that he traveled from Florida to Israel by train! Is this the "expertise" your government has imported into our justice system?

    E. Your Government's Refusal to Hold Neal Sher Accountable for the Demjanjuk (or any other) case

    In an incredible statement on behalf of your government, Mr. George Thomson states "Mr. Sher appears to have had a very limited role to play in Demjanjuk." Are we to understand that a government Director occupying the most senior position in his unit is not responsible for the actions over which he holds direct control? John Demjanjuk was extradited in Feb. 1986 as a direct result of Neal Sher's personal conduct of the "flagship" case of the OSI. I have provided irrefutable evidence in my Nov. 28, 1997 letter detailing Mr. Sher's direct participation -- more properly, his direct orchestration -- of the Demjanjuk case: your government has chosen to ignore this. Unfortunately for you, your government will not have that privilege in May when Mr. Sher appears before the Justice Committee and Opposition Justice critic Jack Ramsay.

    I have chosen to say as little as possible in this letter about Mr. Sher's personal conduct of the Demjanjuk debacle, since I am confident that your government and Ms McLellan's department are not above spiriting off such information to Mr. Sher, in order to afford him advance notice of the types of penetrating questioning he, and your government, are about to face in front of public scrutiny. Suffice it to say there are some very interesting comments made in two of Mr. Sher's depositions in the Demjanjuk case, both readily available to you (and, of course, to the public).

    A further interesting episode occurred when Mr. Sher, then being interviewed by Southam News on December 13, 1997, as was clearly reported across Canada, boasted that "He was also in charge of the case against Cleveland auto worker John Demjanjuk."

    Are you seriously prepared to defend Mr. Thomson's nonsensical remark based on the foregoing?

    F. Denaturalization and Deportation

    Under this topic, Mr. Thomson lectures our members on "principles of law and fairness." Of course, he is deliberately side-tracking the issue. The issue of use of denaturalization and deportation in so-called war crimes prosecution has less to do with legal principles than it does with government policy, and the circumstances under which that policy was formulated and adopted. It is your government's policy decision to abandon criminal proceedings in favour of a civil/administrative process that many Canadians find unacceptable and that will ultimately bring this country's justice system into disrepute. In his attempt to justify your government's cowardly adoption of the denaturalization and deportation avenue of dealing with what are trumpeted to be major heinous crimes, Mr. Thomson ignores any explanation of the real reasons for precisely why criminal trials in front of a jury of peers were abandoned. When we keep in mind that the criminal process requires positive evidence provable by the Crown beyond a reasonable doubt as to:

    1. identification of the crime
    2. exact identity of victim
    3. date of crime
    4. location of crime
    5. credible evidence to support accusation
    then Canadians will draw the logical conclusion: there has been no success in prosecuting so-called war criminals simply because there is no evidence with which to pin a conviction on anyone fingered to date by pressure groups, let alone against the 14 or so hapless victims who now face your government's gutless and immoral denaturalization and deportation farce.

    On this topic, your Justice Minister on Nov. 13, 1997, in her address to one of the groups whose lobbying accounts for the government's current policy, quoted former Supreme Court Justice La Forest on how "unmanageable" the criminal law process was in dealing with war criminals. How selective of Ms. McLellan to have chosen this quotation, taken entirely out of context. Unfortunate it is that Ms. McLellan did not have the common decency or the moral fortitude to quote the late Justice John Sopinka. He, commenting on the use of denaturalization and deportation as a method of dealing with war crimes, branded such a process "an unjustifiable retroactive provision" that would be "repugnant to our [Canadian] legal tradition." I challenge the Justice Minister to publicize this quotation. Furthermore, that the Justice Minister on the occasion of our meeting chose the same day -- in fact, the same hour -- to make a speech to this very lobby group, in which she kow-towed to their every demand, made a mockery of her meeting with Ukrainian representatives and underscores her pre-determination of the issues at hand.

    Having reviewed the government's position on the Sher hiring and the adoption of denaturalization and deportation, the Alberta Ukrainian Self-Reliance League demands,in addition to providing answers to all questions posed herein, the following:

    1. that your government thank Mr. Sher for his interest and release him of any further service obligations forthwith, on the basis that the government of Canada has no business retaining the services of an individual with a track-record like his who is currently under investigation by the United States Justice Department for misconduct during his stewardship of OSI.

    2. that your Justice Minister consider for her deputy an extended leave of absence, without pay.

    3. that you provide this office within 15 days of the date of this letter with all evidence on which you have based your assertion that John Demjanjuk is a war criminal, since your government has clearly made that determination.

    4. that you provide this office with the names of the six most senior advisors to the Prime Minister's Office, and state the ethnic community these individuals represent, so that all Canadians become aware of who it is that really assists you in setting policies such as the denaturalization and deportation one.

    5. that you immediately abandon the denaturalization and deportation process while providing an appropriately worded apology to the people of Canada for your politically motivated transgression against the due process right of all Canadians.

    This letter will be given the widest possible circulation among Canadians concerned, not with narrow political agendas, but with true justice.

    Yours truly,

    Eugene Harasymiw, President

    Hon. Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice, Fax: (403) 495-2598
    Hon. Lucienne Robillard, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration
    George Thomson, Deputy Minister of Justice
    Jack Ramsay, MP Fax: (403) 672-9338
    Michael Zaleschuk, President, Ukrainian Self-Reliance League of Canada

    [The letter of George Thomson referred to above is appended below.]

    Canadian Justice Department

    January 15, 1998

    Mr. Eugene Harasymiw
    Ukrainian Self-Reliance League

    Dear Mr. Harasymiw:

    Thank you for your letters of Sept. 21 and Nov. 28, 1997, in which you express your organization's strong objections to the prospect that the Department of Justice might engage the services of Mr. Neal Sher as a consultant to assist the Canadian War Crimes Unit's efforts to bring to justice war criminals and others who have committed reprehensible acts during time of war. Mr. Sher, of course, is a former director of the United States Justice Department Office of Special Investigations (OSI). I have read with some care the long article which you have prepared and the Minister had the opportunity to meet with you and two members of the Ukrainian Civil Liberties Association in Edmonton during the month of November. We had already been investigating the matters raised in your letter of Sept. 21st and, following our meeting, the new issues and materials you presented in Edmonton were added to the matters to be considered. One of my officials then conducted a follow-up meeting with you to obtain additional information and articles. While time did not permit us to interview the various persons you subsequently referred us to, we trust that the process followed, involving both meetings and the submission of written materials, afforded you ample opportunity to present the essence of your concerns.

    You are quite right to say that, in the Demjanjuk case, something went seriously wrong. What happened in that case ought never to have occurred. The United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, was clear in holding that OSI lawyers had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by failing to disclose to the court and to Mr. Demjanjuk potentially exculpatory information in their possession during the US litigation that culminated in Mr. Demjanjuk's extradition to Israel for trial on capital charges.

    You go on the say, however, that "it was eventually revealed that OSI had framed Demjanjuk and then covered this up". Although this was alleged before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal, the Court made no such finding. On the contrary, the Court did not overturn its Special Master's conclusion that the OSI attorneys had acted in good faith. Their error lay in what the Court would find was a reckless disregard of their obligation to provide certain information to the defence. The Court held that OSI lawyers had made a serious mistake, but that they had not intentionally committed a wrong.

    In your article, you also say that Demjanjuk's defence attorneys were able to gather enough hard evidence to prove his innocence. It is true that he was acquitted of the charge of being Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. But, while the Israeli Supreme Court found a reasonable doubt as to Demjanjuk's guilt on that score, it ruled that the evidence before that Court also showed that Demjanjuk was an active participant in Operation Reinhardt -- the Nazi plan for the extermination of Polish Jews -- and hence involved in mass murder. American officials maintain today that Demjanjuk's role in the Holocaust, by virtue of his service at Trawniki, Sobibor and several other concentration camps (all confirmed by thoroughly tested and authenticated war time documents), is not open to legitimate question. The U.S. Dept. of Justice, with the approval of the Attorney General, is therefore continuing to pursue Demjanjuk and is seeking to deport him on the basis of his record during the war, and his misrepresentation and concealments to immigrate to, and become a citizen of, the United States.

    While the Demjanjuk case was a serious and unfortunate event, our information does not suggest that it is characteristic of how OSI has carried out its mandate over twenty years. As you note, OSI has now denaturalized some 60 people and removed 48 from the U.S. OSI counsel appear continuously before the courts of the U.S., and are subject to the public scrutiny and challenge that adversarial litigation generates in that country. Given this formidable task it is hardly surprising that they attract some criticism. But they also receive praise from many quarters, including the courts they appear in front of. For example, in the recent decision is US v. Bronislaw Hajda, 963 F. Supp. 1452 (N.D. Ill. 1997), the Court wrote:

    To see the U.S. government uncoil its mighty sinews and reach across time and distance to uncover facts is an amazing and frightening thing to behold. Indeed, seeking to discover the acts of a single individual across the temporal expanse of 50 years and a distance of an ocean and half a continent is a daunting task. Yet, through the efforts of the Justice Dept. and the international community, the activities of Wachmann Hajda have come to light. The government believes that the investigation has also demonstrated that the Defendant is Wachmann Hajda.

    That court went on to emphasize that it was satisfied that the OSI had met its special disclosure responsibilities to the accused in that case.

    The charges you level at Mr. Sher himself, namely that the Demjanjuk "debacle" occurred during his stewardship of OSI and, further, that he is a "corruptor of justice" have also been considered. As to the first of these allegations, Mr. Sher appears to have had a very limited role to play in Demjanjuk. Mr. Sher only became Director in 1983 and served in that capacity until 1994. When the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals re-opened Demjanjuk in 1992, Mr.Sher was in charge of OSI, but the events into which the Court was inquiring were focussed upon the 1977-81 period while Walter Rockler was Director of OSI and Allan Ryan was Deputy Director -- prior to Mr. Sher's tenure. Although the Court cited others in OSI for their failures to perform their duties properly, it found no improprieties to have been committed by Mr.Sher. Further, the US government's Office of Professional Responsibility, which also looked into the Demjanjuk case, found no wrongdoing by Mr.Sher.

    As to the second charge, that Mr. Sher is a corruptor of justice, this is a very serious allegation that is not borne out by the evidence and information we have. Rather Mr. Sher's record shows him to be a man with excellent credentials and a vast amount of experience in war crimes matters -- in our assessment a person uniquely positioned to provide advice and insights to our leadership here in Canada.

    Accordingly, we decided to retain Mr. Sher to act as an advisor to Canada's war crimes program. We believe that his knowledge of American and international law pertaining to war crimes, and his extensive experience with overseeing OSI will be of great benefit to those responsible for managing Canada's program, and will help us make that program more effective.

    In your letter, you raise a number of quite different concerns to which I would like to respond. You argue that the government's present efforts to revoke the citizenship of, and deport, people who lied about their war times activities to enter Canada are unfair and unjust. Moreover, you say that the government has blundered by abandoning the criminal prosecution option in favour of the civil remedies of revocation and deportation, and that this short cut drastically erodes due process.

    I respectfully disagree. No principle of law of fairness requires the government to elect to use the criminal law and to attempt to imprison people, if other laws and procedures and different remedies can be equally invoked against them in accordance with all the normal protections of Canadian law. What is alleged against the 14 people against whom proceedings have been begun since 1995 is that they entered Canada, and sometimes obtained citizenship, by fraudulently concealing their wartime status and activities, in breach of Canada's immigration and citizenship laws. Those laws provide sanctions for their violation. If the government can persuade a court that evidence exists to support these allegations, then I believe it is entirely proper to seek to strip Canadian citizenship from such people, and to remove them from this country. All of this is being done in accordance with the highest standards of justice and procedural fairness.

    Thank you for taking the time to meet with the Minister in Edmonton, and to write to us about this important subject.

    Yours truly,

    George Thomson
    Deputy Minister of Justice