Ukrainian News | 23Aug2006 | Editorial

Stop this farce

For once we may find some agreement with David Matas, legal counsel for B'nai Brith Canada.

Commenting on the Furman-Skomatchuk decision to the Edmonton Journal, Matas stated: "To get a judgment that they lied on entry, and then do nothing about it, it's pointless."

We agree the proceedings are pointless. But what makes them pointless is the fact that whether Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg wants to initiate the revocation of citizenship of Josef Furman and Jura Skomatchuk, or not, (and we seriously doubt he would want to open that can of worms in the first place), he can't do that because a May 31, 2005 Federal Court of Appeals decision tells the government it can't revoke the citizenship of individuals under the war crimes policy unless it fulfills it's own guidelines of finding evidence of individual crimes against them.

This goes back to the case of Helmut Oberlander whose citizenship was revoked by cabinet order in 2001 because he had "obtained his citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances".

But the same ruling which found "on the balance of probabilities" that he had obtained his citizenship by false representation also found no evidence that he had committed any individual crime.

Let's go back to when the Denaturalization and Deportation policy against Ukrainians and other East European was launched by then-Justice Minister Allan Rock in 1995 under the guise of bringing "Nazi war criminals" to justice. At that time, the Ministry of Justice very clearly stated:

"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."

In the unanimous decision cited above, Justice Robert Décary, with the concurrence of Justices J. Edgar Sexton and B. Malone the Federal Appeal Court decided to hold the government up to it's own statements.

"In face of the express finding by Mr. Justice MacKay that no evidence was presented about any personal involvement of Mr. Oberlander in war crimes, one would expect the Governor in Council to at least explain why, in its view, a policy which, by its very -- and underlined -- words applied only to suspected war criminals, applied to someone who served only as an interpreter in the German army," it said.

Another part of the ruling contained the following statement:

"The Governor in Council is not, of course, deciding as a matter of law whether a person is a war criminal, but it cannot apply the war criminals policy to a person unless it first satisfies itself, to use the very words of the policy, that 'there is evidence of direct involvement in or complicity of war crimes or crimes against humanity'."

Since not only was no evidence of individual criminality found in these two cases, none was even presented, as duly noted (though buried deep in her report) by Justice Snider.

Therefore this whole process was completely useless and should never have even been started.

The fact that the bureaucrats who feed at the War Crimes Unit of the Justice Department can continue to waste millions of taxpayers' dollars on totally useless exercise, not to mention the emotional and financial strain this places on the families of these victims of a government assault on the civil liberties of members of an identifiable ethnic group just goes to show why the changes to the Citizenship Act recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in its June 12, 2005 report should be enacted a soon as possible, instead of being put on the backburner.

Stop this farce once and for all.