UCCLA Media Release
Ottawa - For Immediate Release (25 May 2007)
The Ukrainian Canadian community has welcomed the Government of Canada's announcement that Wasyl Odynsky will not be denaturalized and deported, despite a decade of unfounded allegations about his wartime activities.
In a 2001 ruling, Federal Court Judge W Andrew MacKay reaffirmed that Mr Odynsky had never been a Nazi and that there was no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing on his part during the German occupation of Ukraine. Despite those findings Mr Odynsky still faced the prospect of being denaturalized and deported because it was alleged that he must have misled immigration screening officials when he resettled in Canada after the war, concealing his role as a sentry at the Trawniki labour camp. Mr Odynsky repeatedly swore that he was never asked about his wartime service, had been press-ganged into an auxiliary guard unit, and was never involved in a war crime. By all accounts he has lived an exemplary life in Canada.
Commenting on the Canadian Cabinet's decision, Dr Lubomyr Luciuk, director of research for the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said:
" Previous Liberal governments ignored our community's principled position on dealing with the alleged presence of war criminals in Canada. We have always insisted that any and all war criminals found in Canada, regardless of their ethnic, religious or racial origin, or political beliefs, should be brought to trial in a Canadian criminal court, where an individual's guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Thankfully, the new Conservative government of Canada, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has recognized that the Odynsky case, like so many others, was built up on hearsay and emotional rhetoric rather than any compelling evidence of wrongdoing. We applaud this government for undoing the harm done by previous administrations and now call upon the Minister of Justice, the Honourable R Nicholson, to either forgo denaturalization and deportation proceedings altogether, which would be sensible given how deeply flawed the process is, or else apply it to any and all suspects, given that justice can not be selective. Taking the latter course would mean initiating proceedings against those individuals now living in Canada who have admitted that they voluntarily served in the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, SMERSH and KGB, organs of state repression whose undeniable record of atrocities is unrivaled in 20th century Europe. We are sure all Canadians agree that our country should not be a safe haven for Communist killers and enablers. Unfortunately, it still is."