Response to David Matas

15 July 2002

Honourable Martin Cauchon, MP
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons, Parliament Buildings,
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Cauchon:

On June 17, 2002, an open letter was sent to you from David Matas, senior legal counsel for B'nai Brith Canada concerning Kirk Makin's Globe and Mail article entitled, "The man Ottawa won't leave alone". As you are probably aware, that letter contained a number of factual errors, so in the interest of honesty, let me take this opportunity to remind you of the truth:

1. Mr. Matas refers to Wasyl Odynsky as "an aging war criminal". This is incorrect. Justice McKay cleared Mr. Odynsky of any wrongdoing during WWII. In fact, Mr. Odynsky was never charged with any crimes. Mr. Odynsky is not a war criminal.

2. Mr. Matas says that "Mr. Makin tries to evoke public sympathy ... by suggesting that the long delay in bringing him to justice raised his hopes that the government might actually have lost interest in him." This is incorrect. Mr. Makin's article evokes public outrage that our government would spend time and money harassing a man who was never a Nazi and against whom no evidence exists of complicity in war crimes or crimes against humanity. Indeed, Justice McKay ruled that Mr. Odynsky was a victim of the Nazis.

3. Mr. Matas urges the "Federal Government to act in the Odynsky case, as well as in the Katriuk and the Baumgartner cases, without further delay. We urge the Department of Justice to fulfill its mandate to uphold justice." In reality, revoking the Canadian citizenship of Mr. Odynsky and these others would clearly be a travesty of justice. Mr. Odynsky and these others have not been charged or tried for crimes.

4. Mr. Matas urges you to "the fight to ensure that people who commit atrocities are held accountable for their actions." All Canadians wish to see all war criminals punished. However, no responsible Canadian wishes to see an innocent person's life ruined by false allegations. Honest Canadians are sickened when people like Mr. Odynsky, who was a victim of the Nazis himself, is unjustly targeted in this way. Mr. Matas and others who make accusations without basis in fact should be held accountable for their words.

5. Mr. Matas states that Mr. Odynsky "had the benefit of Canada's justice system." This is incorrect. Mr. Odynsky was not charged with war crimes, and was not given a criminal trial. A civil hearing cleared him of war crimes, but found "on a balance of probabilities" that Wasyl Odynsky entered Canada through misrepresentation. If there was no war crime, what was the misrepresentation? Justice McKay found that Mr. Odynsky was never a Nazi, did not participate in any war crimes, and served under the Nazi occupation administration in Ukraine under duress. Mr. Odynsky has lived an exemplary life in Canada as a citizen for over half a century. Nothing he has done since immigrating here, and nothing he did in Europe during the Second World war, merits his denaturalization and deportation.

6. Mr. Matas has not only made these unfounded assertions about Mr. Odynsky and others to you privately, but he has also publicly posted these misleading allegations on the B'nai Brith Canada web site. His doing so may well constitute promoting hate on the internet. Given the fact that Mr. Matas is the author of a report entitled "Countering Hate on the Internet: Recommendations for Action", his conduct is very troubling. If Canada's justice system were to follow Mr. Matas' own recommendations, the B'nai Brith Canada web site should perhaps now be denied services by internet providers, and Mr. Matas himself should have his e-mail account canceled.

As the Honourable Minister of Justice, I trust that you will follow your conscience in this matter and treat Mr. Odynsky with the fairness and compassion that has been the hallmark of Canadian justice for more than a century.

Yours sincerely,

Marsha Skrypuch