I am pleased to share some exciting news about an initiative we have been working on for more than a year.
Just minutes ago, the Prime Minister announced that he will offer a formal apology in the House of Commons for Canada’s shameful decision to turn away Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis in 1939.
While the precise timing of the apology has yet to be determined, we expect it to take place in the coming months. We are confident it will receive all-party support, particularly as it builds upon the previous government’s decision to erect the Wheel of Conscience at Pier 21 in Halifax, commemorating the ship’s passengers.
For Holocaust Survivors and their families, a formal apology will be a powerful statement of regret for a disgraceful decision and the “none is too many” policy toward Jewish refugees that led to it. I was especially touched to hear from community members with relatives who survived the St. Louis (some of whom are living in Canada today). In telling us why a formal apology is meaningful to their family, they reminded us of the real lives impacted by our advocacy work.
As I wrote in The Hill Times this week, an apology does not impose financial liability on the government. Nor is the goal of an apology to impose a sense of guilt upon our fellow Canadians. To the contrary, we know that Canada today is not the country it was in 1939.
Addressing past injustices should only reaffirm Canada’s greatness today. It takes a country of courage and high ideals to confront the darkest moments of our history. Doing so will help ensure we always stand for what is right in future, particularly in the fight against antisemitism.
Shimon Koffler Fogel
CEO, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
PS: I’m incredibly proud that thousands of grassroots community members signed our letter to the Prime Minister last month calling for an apology for the St. Louis. THANK YOU for being part of this effort. Together, we have helped make history.
PPS: Other developments of note today include the U.S. announcement related to the nuclear agreement with Iran and deeply concerning activity along Israel’s northern border. We are monitoring both situations closely and will mount advocacy campaigns as necessary. We are stronger when we speak as a collective. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and encourage your friends to join our email list. As we have done in the past, we may ask our community to take action on these issues in the coming days.