Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Justin Trudeau apologizes for Canada’s 1939 refusal of ship of Jewish refugees

Justin Trudeau apologizes for Canada’s 1939 refusal of ship of Jewish refugees

Nearly 80 years later, another Liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, will apologize to Canadian Jews after Question Period on Wednesday for turning away the desperate refugees of the St. Louis, hundreds of whom would die in Nazi death camps. "We are sorry for not apologising sooner", Trudeau said in the House of Commons.

In May 2016, six months after taking office, he stood in parliament to apologise to the descendents of hundreds of passengers of the Komagata Maru, a Japanese vessel carrying Sikh, Muslim and Hindu migrants who were refused entry into Canada under 1914 immigration laws.

"I am here, the third generation in Canada, because Canada opened its arms, too late for many but in time for us".

Trudeau said 17 percent of all hate crimes in Canada target Jewish people.

He said that those who rejected the desperate refugees should bear "moral responsibility for their death" arguing that "there is a little doubt that our silence permitted the Nazis to come up with their own, "final solution" to the so-called Jewish problem". The U.S. State Department turned the ship away, citing America's annual immigration quota.

The Prime Minister said the "long overdue" apology to the passengers of the St. Louis can not erase the pain suffered by these refugees or those murdered in the Holocaust or their descendants.

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The head of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, Avi Benlolo, said it is up to governments to "take serious measures that help counter hate crimes against minority groups".

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said in a statement that his organization would work with the government on the details of the pledge "and on other practical policies to combat anti-Semitism in all its forms today".

Trudeau has been keenly repenting of Canada's historic sins for some time now. Vigils were held across Canada in the aftermath of the attack.

Mr. Trudeau also warned of an "alarming rate" of discrimination and violence against Jewish people today. He called it a "disgrace to Canada". The ship arrived in Cuba, which would not accept the refugees.

He said the October 27 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, where a gunman shot and killed 11 people simply because they were Jewish, shows anti-Semitism still exists in society.

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