September 13, 2023
The Hon. Arif Virani, PC, MP
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
The Hon. Anita Anand, PC, MP
President of the Treasury Board
90 Elgin Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R5
The Hon. Pascale St. Onge, PC, MP
Minister of Canadian Heritage
15 Eddy Street, 12th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec J8X 4B3
The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, PC, MP
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance 90 Elgin Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5
Re: Holocaust Records
On behalf of Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation (CAEF), please accept this letter of support for recommendations that would lead to the release of historical records pertaining to the Holocaust – records that would provide information on Nazi war criminals and collaborators that settled in Canada after the Second World War. These records are currently in the possession of the Government of Canada.
Since 2004, CAEF has been educating Canadians about the growth of antisemitism in many spheres of Canadian life, and the harm this is causing to Canadian Jews. Such antisemitism includes spreading lies and distortions about Jews, Judaism and Israel. This is not unlike what Nazis did before and during WWII and we expect the government of Canada to do more to staunch this virus. We also expect that sharing the information held about Nazi war criminals and collaborators will contribute to understanding both their impact on our society, and the potential for other Jew haters to succeed in hiding their identify in Canada.
As a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), CAEF encourages the Government of Canada to fulfill an important component of its obligations under IHRA by releasing the historical records pertaining to the Holocaust.
As outlined in B’nai Brith Canada’s August 2023 submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance for its 2024 pre-budget consultations process:
The IHRA’s 2000 Stockholm Declaration commits the signatories, including Canada, to “take all necessary steps to facilitate the opening of archives in order to ensure that all documents bearing on the Holocaust are available to researchers.” In 2017, IHRA’s Monitoring Access to Holocaust Collections Project recommended that governmental archival institutions “release Holocaust related records, irrespective of any personal identifying information or national security classifications.”
The submission goes on to remind members of the House of Commons Committee that:
As of August 2023, Canada has not fulfilled its obligation as a member of IHRA. To do so, it needs to release historical documents pertaining to the Holocaust. As a member of the Canadian delegation to IHRA, B’nai Brith would like to see a fundamental shift by the Government of Canada towards this critical issue.
David Matas, Senior Legal Counsel for B’nai Brith Canada penned a piece that was published in the July 4, 2023 online edition of the Globe and Mail. It states the following:
We need access to the report written by Alti Rodal for the Deschênes Commission, titled Nazi War Criminals in Canada: The Historical and Policy Setting from the 1940s to the Present. It was written to be public in its entirety, but has been released subject only to inexplicable extensive deletions. Part II of the Deschênes Commission report, addressing individual cases, has not been made public. And the hundreds of Nazi war crimes files originally held by the Department of Justice and Royal Canadian Mounted Police are inaccessible.
CAEF agrees with Mr. Matas. Canadians not only deserve, but require, access to these records.
To achieve this goal, the Government of Canada has a unique opportunity to adopt the following recommendations:
Adopt B’nai Brith Canada’s recommendation (found within its February 2023 submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics) for the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to introduce amendments to the Access to Information Act (ATIA). Amendments to the ATIA would mandate the disclosure of: - all records relating specifically to alleged Nazi war criminals in Canada and to any other Canadian citizen or resident who may have been complicit in carrying out the Holocaust and - all other Holocaust-related records (as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)) in the possession of the Government of Canada.
Adopt two key recommendation found in the above-noted House of Commons Committee’s June 2023 report that calls on the Government of Canada to 1) “implement a process for the automatic release of historical documents that are more than 25 years old” and 2) “establish and implement clearer record classification guidelines and a declassification system.”
Adopt a key recommendation in B’nai Brith Canada’s August 2023 submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance that calls on the Government of Canada to “dedicate funding to create a publicly accessible digital archive of all records (government departments and agencies) relating to the Holocaust and then have Library Archives Canada (LAC) organize and release them as non-redacted copies readily open and accessible to the public.”
Canadians need to have full access to these historic records, and have a right to them. CAEF urges that all departments with files, be required to immediately release them. We expect nothing less from our government than total transparency in handling information about the Holocaust, its perpetrators and collaborators.
If you have any questions, please contact CAEF’s President, Anita Bromberg at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Andria Spindel, Executive Director
CC: Anita Bromberg, President, Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation
Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer, B’nai Brith Canada