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QUESTION PERIOD — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada

October 3, 2023

My question is for the Government Representative. Since 2009, Canada has been a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Members of the alliance are required by terms of the Stockholm Declaration to take all necessary steps to open their archives to researchers who are studying the history of the Holocaust. Canada, however, has not yet done so, despite repeated requests from B’nai Brith Canada and others. Indeed, some of these records are not just inaccessible; they remain confidential.

Given that we have all been freshly reminded of the need to remember the history of the Holocaust, will your government commit to amending the Access to Information Act to mandate the disclosure of all Holocaust-related records in its possession?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ - ]

Thank you for the question and for underlining the importance of access to the full picture of what happened. I’m not in a position to make that commitment, senator, but I’ll certainly pass on the concern and make inquiries to the appropriate minister.

I have a supplementary question. In 1986, the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, known to most as The Deschênes Commission, released a two-part report that examined allegations that post-war Canadian governments had permitted and indeed even welcomed known Nazi war criminals into Canada. The report had two parts, one of which has never yet been made public. While I understand and support the need to respect the privacy rights of those who were accused but not charged with war crimes and to respect the dignity and reputation of Canada’s wonderful Ukrainian community, it is now 37 years since the Deschênes report was written. At what point can Canadians expect its findings to be made public?

Senator Gold [ - ]

Thank you for the question. The report by the late and honourable Jules Deschênes was an important one that did shed light on many things. It is my understanding that some of it was public, but there were parts that were redacted for reasons that undoubtedly include those to which you referred. I’m not aware of what the status is of the reflection and the calls that have been made publicly — as you’re aware — recently for the release of the redacted portions. I will add that to the inquiries I will make.

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