CANADIAN Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has formally apologised for the government’s decision in 1939 to turn away a ship full of Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany.
“I issue a long-overdue apology to the Jewish refugees Canada turned away,” he told Parliament.
Canada denied asylum to the 907 German Jews on board the MS St Louis when it arrived on its shores.
Cuba and America also denied entry to the refugees and, after they returned to Europe, about one-quarter of those on board died in the Holocaust.
“In 1939, Canada turned its back on 907 Jewish refugees, deeming them unworthy of a home, and undeserving of our help,” Trudeau said.
“Today, I apologise for this injustice.
“While decades have passed, time has by no means absolved Canada of its guilt or lessened the weight of our shame.”
America’s State Department apologised for the incident in 2012.
B’nai Brith Canada welcomed Trudeau’s apology and called on the government to adopt a concrete, national action plan to fight antisemitism.
“It was very important that the government made this statement and fulsome apology for the past,” said Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
“It was crucial that every political party joined in, acknowledging this unspeakable failure in Canada’s history.”
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