Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that senior bureaucrats are currently reviewing the Deschenes Commission report, an independent inquiry from the 1980s that examined the presence of alleged Nazi war criminals in Canada. Trudeau indicated an intention to make more of the report public.
The Deschenes Commission, established by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, produced a final report in 1986, consisting of two parts.
The first part, containing recommendations to simplify the extradition process for war criminals, was publicly released. However, the second part was classified as secret, and the names of alleged Nazis in Canada were never disclosed.
Jewish organizations, including B’nai Brith and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, have called for the unredacted release of the second part of the report to shed light on Canada’s history of admitting Nazi collaborators after World War II.
They argue that events like the recent Yaroslav Hunka affair, where a 98-year-old veteran of a Nazi unit was honored in Parliament, highlight the need for Canada to confront its past immigration decisions.
Trudeau informed reporters that top public servants are carefully examining the issue and delving into archives to make recommendations. Quebec Liberal MP Anthony Housefather emphasized the sensitivity of the issue, considering the potential impact on Eastern European communities.
The Deschenes report has noted that allegations of war crimes by the 1st Galician Division, which Hunka fought for, have never been substantiated. However, this finding contradicts the conclusions of post-war Nuremberg trials regarding SS units like the 1st Galician Division.
Jewish groups advocate for the release of the complete Deschenes report to gain a better understanding of its conclusions and the historical context of war criminals entering Canada. Housefather has engaged with community groups and conveyed their arguments to his Liberal colleagues.
Meanwhile, the Conservative Party has not yet commented on whether it supports releasing the Deschenes report in its entirety. Quebec Conservative MP Gérard Deltell expressed reluctance to revisit the issue, emphasizing that “history is history.”
In contrast, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh expressed support for releasing the commission’s report to increase transparency about individuals allowed into Canada after World War II.
In summary, the review of the Deschenes Commission report has sparked discussions about the potential unredacted release of its second part, with various political leaders offering differing perspectives on this historical matter.