UCC/UNF meet with Allan Rock

On Friday, Sept. 23, 2001, Mrs. Marika Szkambara President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Toronto Branch, Mr. Roy Kostiuk, President of the National Executive of the Ukrainian National Federation and Ms. Iris Sopinka, a constituent in Mr. Allan Rock's riding met in his riding office in Etobicoke, Ontario to discuss the D.& D. Bill (Deportation and Denaturalization Bill.) It was our intention to present to Mr. Rock the sentiments of our community as to the government's policy in respect to the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

Ms. Iris Sopinka asked that the government re-examine its stand on the D.& D. Bill and not include the phrase "balance of probabilities." She added that the government should take a closer look at the repercussions of these words. She suggested that concrete evidence should be produced in court against the prosecuted before they are to be charged with non-disclosure of information upon entry into Canada. She continued by giving two examples of two Canadian citizens who have lived in Canada for fifty years, Mr. W. Odynsky and Mr. H. Oberlander, both tried in civil court. She stressed that justice was not being served by denaturalizing Canadians in such cases. Ms. Sopinka proceeded to quote from the findings of Justice R. Salhany who is Canada's number one expert on the evidentiary process. In the case of Mr. Oberlander, Justice R. Salhany stated,

"I have reviewed the evidence presented at the hearing ..... and the evidence does not support the conclusions reached by the learned judge. A judge who admits and relies upon evidence which is not admissible in law makes an error in law. A judge who makes an erroneous finding of fact from the evidence presented and relies upon that fact to reach a conclusion, errs in law. A judge who draws unreasonable inference from the testimony of a witness and relies upon it in reaching decision, errs in law. In my view, such errors in law were made in this case by the learned judge. (Justice Andrew MacKay)"
(Ukrainian News, June 27-July 24,2001 "UCC-APC briefs Kilgour on D.& D.")

There was no reaction from Mr. Rock at this moment. Mrs. Szkambara proceeded to speak and stated that Ms. Sopinka expressed the sentiments of our community. It felt that the procedure was unfair and unjust. She continued to outline the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress policy in regards to the Canadian government's policy of denaturalization and deportation.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress is not opposed to bringing war criminals to justice. However, this must be done in Canadian courts of criminal jurisdiction in accordance with Canadian criminal law.

Mr. Rock interrupted and stated that in Mr. Finta's case this was already tried and was not successful. Therefore, the government was exploring other avenues. It was pointed out to him that it is exactly for this reason that we feel that justice is not being served to these individuals.

Furthermore, it was brought to his attention that in a press conference dated Jan. 31,1995, it was overtly stated, "The government will proceed with D.& D. only if there is some evidence of individual criminality." It was pointed out that in both Mr. Odynsky's and Mr. Oberlander's case, the federal government of Canada found that there was no evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Thus the government must stand behind its statement that if evidence of individual criminality cannot be proven, then no proceedings will be considered.

Mrs. Szkambara continued to express her concerns as to the procedures used by our government to denaturalize Canadian citizens. It seems unfair that a group of cabinet members (no one seems to know who they are) meet behind closed doors and make a decision, denying the accused any form of appeal.

At this point, Mr. Rock pointed out that all measures must be used to protect this country from terrorists. Then, Mrs. Szkambara exclaimed that one cannot equate Mr. Odynsky or Mr. Oberlander with terrorists. They have lived in Canada for over 50 years as law-abiding citizens.

Mr. Rock adamantly stated that we were not to put words in his mouth. He declared that he did not call either one a terrorist but that laws are made for everyone.

Ms. Sopinka pointed out that the issue of probability was not a fair evaluation of a person's guilt and for this reason the D.& D. segment of the Crimes against Humanity should not remain in the nebulous state that is presented in the bill.

Mr. Kostiuk introduced himself as a retired lawyer and a newly elected National President of the Ukrainian National Federation. He agreed with the U.C.C. Policy Paper on Crimes Against Humanity and felt that according to the government's statements on January 31, 1995, no further proceedings should be continued against Mr. Odynsky or Mr. Oberlander. Furthermore, he felt there might be an issue of conflict of interest in having the Honourable Eleanor Caplan, Minister of Immigration as one of the members of cabinet who would be making the decisions in denaturalizing Canadians who are accused of crimes against humanity during WWII. It seemed unfair to him that the the government states that proceedings would not continue if no criminality were to be found, yet continues with the proceedings on the grounds of fraud even though initially the person was not brought to court on the grounds of fraud. It seems that the government has created a win situation for itself every time in contrast to the accused who is in a no win situation.

Mr. Rock jumped in at this moment and said that he had examined both cases carefully and that there were boxes and boxes of information. When questioned by Ms. Sopinka what evidence was found to send these men to trial, he replied that at the moment he could not recall exactly what the evidence was, but he was adamant that there was enough evidence and that is why the cases were brought to trial.

We brought the meeting to an end because we realized that the Honourable Minister was not listening to any of our points of view. His mind was made up, closed, sealed and nothing was going to change his opinions except perhaps an election during which at least ten thousand Ukrainian-Canadians in his riding would prove to him that they are of the same opinion that we are: notably, that the D.& D. Bill is unfair and unjust.