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Anthony Housefather. Photo: Twitter Anthony Housefather

Liberal MP wants Canada to apologize for rejecting Jewish refugees

Anthony Housefather, Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal wants the Canadian government to apologize for turning away Jewish refugees on board the ship the SS St. Louis.

During an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Trump’s temporary travel ban, Housefather said that there were times in history where the US has been more welcoming to refugees than Canada, and that Canadians should not congratulate themselves on being better than everyone else.

He reminded the House that there was a time when the Chinese and other Asians, as well as Eastern Europeans, were denied the right to immigrate to Canada.

“I come from the Jewish community”, Housefather said. “And we all remember that when the Jewish community needed Canada the most, in the 1930’s when Hitler was in power, the doors of Canada were closed to Jewish refugees”.

He invoked the phrase “none is too many”, a response given by a high-level government official when asked how many Jews should be accepted into the country during the time of the Nazi persecution. The phrase described the immigration policies of the Canadian government which shut its doors to Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust.

“I hope that one day the government of Canada will apologize for what happened with the St. Louis”, Housefather said.

On May 15, 1939, nine hundred and seven desperate German Jews set sail from Hamburg on the SS St. Louis with nothing more than an entrance visa to Cuba. When the boat reached Havana on May 30, the Cuban government refused to recognize their entrance visas and none of the passengers were allowed to disembark. Within two days all the countries of Latin America had rejected the pleas to allow these Jews to land. The last hope was Canada or the United States, and the latter, not bothering to reply to an appeal, sent a gunboat to shadow the ship as it made its way north.

Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who feared that riots would break out if Canada agreed to a policy that admitted a small number of Jews, felt that this was not a “Canadian problem”. The ship was forced to return to Hamburg and many of the passengers perished during the Holocaust.

While many Allied countries admitted tens of thousands of Jewish refugees in an attempt to save them from the Holocaust, fewer than 5000 Jews were allowed to enter Canada during the 12-year period of the German Nazi regime.

In the past three decades, Canadian government has offered several historic apologies, most notably to Japanese Canadians who were interned during the Second World War, to former students of Indian Residential Schools, and to the Chinese-Canadian community in British Columbia for historical policies that once targeted immigrants.

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About Ilana Shneider

Ilana Shneider
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at ilana@canada-israel.org

18 comments

  1. True dope only lets in satan worshippers just like he does

  2. Finally Housefather, but do you think that your leader Justin and the liberal party should apologize for what the previous liberal gov did to the Jews? Apparently, Justin is taking a stand for muslim refugees ignoring of course, the jews, Christians and Yazidis.

    What will happen to the jews when the ISLAMAPHOBIA IS IMPLIMENTED? Will you stand up to him for the jews or simply sit there quietly like a mouse.

    Remember Housefather, The God Of Israel Watches Over His People And Will Return Them to their Homeland

  3. Apologize to whom? They are all dead. I would prefer that they resolve not to import any people who are ideologically antisemitic so that we Jews who do live here do not live in fear.

  4. ARE YOU KIDDING , HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN, WHAT Canadians did after , they died on the battlefield to free Jews from being killed in the furnaces in Germany. Apologizing to everyone and his pet is getting out of hand.

  5. I understand what the refusal to allow them in meant, but the symbolic gesture of apologising will not be as effective at making up for the past for the sake of Jews as refusing to allow moslems into the country today.

  6. I have never been able to understand why there is hatred toward Jewish people? What have they ever done to anyone?

    • Been successful anywhere they live. They educate themselves, they work hard, and they make lives for themselves even when conditions suck. In short, people are jealous of their success.

    • Thank you, that seems very ridiculous?????

    • Deanna Hildebrandt yes it does. But unfortunately that is the world we live in. Rather than celebrating people’s success and learning from it it is easier to try to put them down

    • I am German, in grade 6 my best friend was Jewish. We learned about the holocaust & I was too ashamed to be friends with her anymore. My dad tried to explain that “we” did not torture & kill all those people, but I just could not get over the guilt feelings. I have honestly wondered most of my life why they are so hated. Very sad.

    • Thank you, as I got older I realized it was not me, or my family that did these horrific things. I hate that people compare Trump to Hitler. He is trying to stop the people that create this type of hate. The generation of today has no idea of war, starvation, having no rights. They are completely entitled & delusional.

  7. Until now, I was always happy to let this go but this Trudeau hates everything non-Muslim … and Jews are non-Muslim

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