Ukrainian News | Oct. 02, 2002 | Marco Levytsky

The Big Lie

B'nai Brith and members of the national media have been running a very effective disinformation campaign. The purpose of this deliberate attempt to deceive the Canadian public, and thus influence government, appears to have achieved its purpose. But that does not make it any less vile and odious.

The objective of this massive deception is to convince the public that respondents in Denaturalization and Deportation (D & D) cases, none of whom have been found guilty of anything beyond probably, and we stress the word probably, lying about their World War II service, are now "Nazi war criminals", or even "convicted mass murderers."

As we have noted many times before, none of the respondents has been found guilty of any war crime. In some cases, like Wasyl Odynsky's, no charges were even brought forward. In another case, that of Helmut Oberlander, a blatant attempt to introduce KGB evidence obtained through coercion was thrown out by the court. The only basis for the deportation of these people was that the court found "on the balance of probabilities", not beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these men probably lied about their past service when coming to Canada, even though all the immigration files from that period were destroyed by the government! In Odynsky's case, the judge not only ruled he had not committed any crime against any individual, but that he had been coerced into serving as a camp guard under threat of death.

The most recent campaign began on Sept. 20 when the National Post, owned by Ukrainophobe Israel Asper, published an item that Immigration Minister Denis Coderre may review the D & D policy. Incidentally the same news was carried by Ukrainian News two days earlier ("Coderre to examine revocation process before introducing new act", Ukrainian News, September 18-October 1, 2002). Not having any concrete information about what was going on, the Post cited an unnamed official as saying one of the options may be to "revoke the citizenship but not deport them ... because kicking them out of the country is the judicial process and this costs a lot of money."

This, in itself is a totally stupid scenario, because it assumes the problem with the process is the cost, when the real reason that the D & D process should be dropped is that in none of the cases that have come before the courts did the government even meet its own criteria (as announced in a Justice Department release from 1995 and echoed by then Minister Allan Rock in the House of Commons) for initiating these case, namely that: "The key criterion in all these proceedings is the existence of some evidence of individual criminality. If that cannot be proven, no proceedings will be considered."

However, the Post further muddied the issue by liberally sprinkling the story by Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief, with the term "Nazi war criminals" when none of these people have been found guilty of any war crimes. In a subsequent press release B'nai Brith expanded upon this outright lie by upgrading the status of these people to "convicted mass murderers.".

Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President stated: "The suggestion by senior officials of the Canadian Immigration Department that the review will focus on whether Nazi war criminals should be stripped of their citizenship without deportation is preposterous. Convicted mass murderers should not be entitled to continue to reside in comfort in Canada."

This even more outrageous lie was picked up by the Toronto Star on Sept. 27, 2002, when it headlined an article by Bernie Farber "Getting away with mass murder". What's more, Ukrainian News is aware of dozens (it could even be hundreds) of letters to the editor that have been sent to both these newspapers pointing out very objectively and correctly, citing court findings, that the use of this term "Nazi war criminal" could not be applied to these cases. Yet, as of Oct. 2, 2002, when this issue went to press, not one of these letters had appeared either in the National Post or in the Toronto Star. Not only is the media disseminating lies, it is suppressing all attempts to correct them.

Unfortunately, such deliberate distortion and suppression of the truth is having its effect. When this newspaper called Minister Coderre's office to inquire about the Post report, we were referred to his communication director, Mark Dunn, who stated the report about option to revoke but not deport was untrue and insisted "our policy is to pursue Nazi war criminals". When told these people have been found innocent of any war crimes, he repeated "we do not go after innocent people, we go after Nazi war criminals." When asked how a person is determined to be a Nazi war criminal, he replied that this was not within his department.

Successful or not, this campaign to distort and suppress the truth is unconscionable and fundamentally un-Canadian. Perhaps the perpetrators of this "Big Lie" should look themselves in the mirror. They'd be surprised whose reflection they might see.