Cabinet Ministers | Jun. 03, 2002 | Eugene Harasymiw
Revoking Wasyl Odynsky's citizenship

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June 3, 2002         Faxed to Federal Cabinet Ministers

House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

Honourable Members:

Only recently has it come to our attention that Minister Coderre (May 1, 2002) instructed the Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council to proceed with his report to the Governor in Council, recommending that Mr. Wasyl Odynsky's citizenship be revoked. We also note that Mr. Coderre's instructions were for certain materials to be forwarded to a "Special Committee of Cabinet for action."

As Canadian citizens of long-standing, our membership is shocked and appalled at such a baseless Ministerial decision. Furthermore, we have yet to be properly informed who specifically makes up this "Special Committee," when it is to consider this particular recommendation, and what type of additional representations will be made and by whom. Your government continues to ignore our legitimate requests for answers to these questions.

We are also mystified by the use of the term "for action," as opposed to "for a decision." Mr. Coderre makes it sound as though this clandestine Special Committee is to rubber-stamp his prior "ruling." Is that Canadian justice, Liberal-style?

We continue to be disappointed that you have chosen to ignore the wishes of a growing number of Canadians to rescind the denaturalization and deportation process. Specific objections to that policy were adequately outlined in my letter of April 1, 2002, to which, we also note, your Ministers have had neither the common courtesy, nor the decency, to provide an answer.

In that previous correspondence, it was made perfectly clear that denaturalization and deportation is a blot on our justice system, for which your government is responsible. It is a blot that will not be removed unless you muster the courage to resist calls from powerful interest groups for the policy's continuation. By bending to the wishes of these groups, your government gives the appearance of "selling justice to the highest bidder."

By prolonging the policy, Cabinet Ministers no doubt expect to be rewarded handsomely with campaign contributions, much like the pay-back schemes that have recently come to light in the media, which some government members have arranged with corporate donors seeking government largesse.

Have Cabinet Ministers considered what the outcome would have been had those victimized by you in the denaturalization and deportation process been brought before the Nuremburg War Crimes trials? Of the 209 accused brought before that tribunal, 38 were acquitted. In all 38 cases, the accused were found not to have organized, controlled or directed any acts of war criminality-this included the commandants of two concentration camps! In short, had the nine gentlemen who have suffered through your denaturalization and deportation process experienced Nuremburg, they would have actually faced incomparably better odds. Now, how does that make your denaturalization and deportation process look in terms of seeking justice?

We also note that Nuremburg convicted several judges who were found to have acted improperly "under the guise of using the judicial process"--a prescient accusation, keeping in mind that you, too, will be facing a similar charge in the court of Canadian public opinion.

It is particularly galling that Cabinet would continue to ignore the basic tenets of Canadian law, hoping against hope that Canadians will not recognize your fixation on appeasing powerful lobbies at all cost. The most fundamental of those principles is continually being flaunted in denaturalization and deportation trials-certainly in the case of victims like Mr. Odynsky and Mr. Oberlander. That principle is illustrated in the recent case of R. v. Ijiofor (unreported) heard March 6, 2002, being an appeal from a lower court conviction for which the accused faced deportation. In the course of his unanimous judgment in favor of the appellant (who had endured relentless questioning by the prosecutor about his alleged association with criminals, much like the environment in which our denaturalization and deportation prosecutors operate), Justice Doherty of the Ontario Court of Appeal stated:

"Counsel for the appellant [accused] properly described this line of reasoning [being put forward by the prosecution] as suggesting guilt by association. It offends one of the most fundamental principles of the criminal law. People can only be convicted for what they do, not for the company they keep." (emphasis ours)

We cannot, furthermore, help but marvel at the timing of Mr.Coderre's recommendation concerning Mr. Odynsky. It comes in the midst of media reports bursting at the seams with daily reports of unethical or highly questionable government transactions.

Several cases in point involve Mr. Coderre and the dispenser of Canadian justice, Mr. Cauchon. Faced as the Hon. Minister Coderre is with accusations surrounding Groupe Everest, and as the Hon. Minister Cauchon is with accusations surrounding Lefleur Communication Marketing, it is difficult to conclude that either of them possesses the moral compass to pass judgment on octogenarian Canadians who have never been shown to have committed reprehensible acts. As a matter of fact, when one considers present, and past, Cabinet actions (Eggleton, Boudria, Fry, Minna, Gagliano, Collenette, Scott, Dupuy, and the list goes on), and even those of the Prime Minister himself (Federal Business Development Bank), I suggest to you that pointing fingers (at phantom crimes, based on phantom half-century old interviews, during which phantom questions were posed, to which phantom responses may or may not have been given) is no way to responsibly carry out the duties of public office.

For the present government-rocked as it is by scandal, teeming with corruption, and plagued by justifiable dissention-these are not good times to be accusing anyone of hypothetical crimes, for which the government has not one iota of palpable evidence.

In the event your shadowy Special Committee of Cabinet decides to strip Mr. Odynsky of his hard-earned and exemplary citizenship, based on the egregious and morally repugnant process of denaturalization and deportation, I can assure you that the pressures of your recently self-induced political calamities will look mild in comparison to the fire-storm of protest and indignation that awaits you.

Yours truly,

Eugene Harasymiw, LL.B.
Chair, Civil Liberties Standing Committee

Stephen Harper, Leader of the Official Opposition
Diane Ablonczy, Citizenship and Immigration Critic
Michael Zaleschuk, President, Ukrainian Self-Reliance League of Canada