April 4, 2001
Ukrainian News, Edmonton, AB

D & D a "judicial lottery", lawyer says

By Marco Levytsky
With files from the UCC National Justice Committee

The Denaturalization and Deportation (D & D) process is a 'judicial lottery" in which the citizenship of a respondent depends upon "which judge you draw in the lottery," said a leading authority on the process in Toronto, March 25, 2001.

Ottawa lawyer Peter Doody, who is working on his third D & D defense, said that in two of the cases, judges found that before 1950 there was no legal authority to turn immigrants back for what they did during the war, and two judges who found that there was legal authority.

Judges often disagree in their decisions, he noted, which is why you have courts of appeal which determine what is the law. However, because there is no such appeal in D & D cases "no one knows what the law is."

"If we have a system without an appeal it looks like the rule of law doesn't matter and if we live in a state where the rule of law doesn't matter, then we're in a very sad state indeed," he noted.

Doody was speaking before about 250 people gathered for a community information meeting about the Wasyl Odynsky case, organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress National Justice Committee, at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre.

On March 2, 2001, Odynsky was found to have misrepresented himself upon entering Canada and could face deportation under the D & D process even though Justice Andrew MacKay also found that he was innocent of any individual crimes and that his service was not voluntary.

"Mr. Odynsky's case is a case which should raise public ire against this process because he didn't do anything wrong and the judge found that," said Doody.

"It's not a question of the evidence not being strong enough - there wasn't any," he added.

Doody, who has also worked with the UCC in preparing briefs to present before the House of Commons on proposed changes to the Citizenship Act and the Crimes Against Humanity Act, said the judgement found that Odynsky tried to escape from the Germans, was imprisoned and threatened with death if he tried to escape again.

Odynsky was found "on the balance of probabilities" to have misrepresented himself because the only security officer to testify in the case was one who didn't start working in Europe until 1951 and relied upon what others told him happened in 1949, noted Doody.

He said the judge was "relying upon Odynsky's lack of memory over what happened 50 years ago" because he reached his conclusion that Odynsky must have lied to a short question - otherwise a longer discussion would have ensued which he would have remembered.

"These cases are not about war crimes any more, despite the fact that they are prosecuted by the War Crimes Unit of the Department of Justice of the Government of Canada, despite the fact that for the people of Canada, that's all they're about. The Government has stopped, in most cases, even alleging that the individuals involved committed any crimes during the war.

"These are about, supposedly, the government trying to prove that, when they were interviewed before coming to Canada 50 years ago, these citizens didn't answer a question truthfully despite the fact that in all the cases they don't have any witnesses who have been able to testify to what any of the people were asked and despite the fact that although documents were created when they were questioned... those notes were... intentionally... destroyed."

He urged the Ukrainian community to continue fighting the unfairness of the process.

He also said that this issue is not just an issue for the Ukrainian community, even though "members of the Ukrainian community seem to have been the focus of more of these notices of revocation of citizenship than any other community, perhaps because the evidence comes from the KGB, and the KGB has a greater dislike of Ukrainians than other groups."

Odynsky's daughter, Olya Odynsky Grod, stated that given the very "mixed message" headlines in the mainstream Canadian press, understandably there is quite a bit of confusion on this issue.

She went on to say that many people have called and asked what they can do to help Odynsky.

"If ever there was a time to write a letter it is now. (Immigration and Citizenship Minister) Elinor Caplan, the Prime Minister, your MP and cabinet ministers need to know how you feel about the possibility of Wasyl Odynsky's citizenship being revoked."

She cited the many articles in the press in favour of Odynsky, all of which were written by non Ukrainian Canadians.

"We are very heartened by all the positive letters". Olya went on to thank all who assisted Wasyl Odynsky financially.

"We could never have afforded to take the court to Ukraine to hear the witnesses. We truly believed that this helped to convince Justice MacKay that Odynsky was not a collaborator, not a Nazi, and that he had never harmed anybody anywhere," she said.

"One of the most positive outcomes of this case is the fact that we have on the court record - an accurate account of Ukrainian history in Ivano-Frankivsk in 1943-1944 and the forced conscription of young Ukrainian men. The judges findings can and most likely will be used by future researches and historians. Thanks to the extremely professional and competent work of Prof. Subtelny as well as the research of many dedicated individuals we have documents, records, statements and briefs that can now be used in the defense of any other unfortunate individuals who may be caught in the web of Denaturalization and Deportation."

Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon was Roman Kosmyna, a member of the UCC - Toronto Branch, Justice Committee.

Lawyer Alexandra Chyczij moderated the question and answer period.

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