Taking a stronger stance
By Karena Walter
Students at Western are urging the Canadian government to pursue Nazi war criminals with more determination.
The Jewish Students' Union has started a petition, the idea of JSU members Amanda Blitz and Evan Propst, calling for action from the Ministry of Justice. The group has collected about 100 signatures at Western so far and the petition has been distributed to other universities' Jewish associations.
"These are people that shouldn't have been allowed in Canada in the first place," said JSU director, Gabriel Meranda, adding war criminals enter the country under false pretenses. "They should not be allowed to live the good life in Canada."
Rather than collect students' names for the petition, student numbers will be recorded, symbolizing the fading memory of people who died in concentration camps, reducing them to numbers tattooed on their arms.
Jenn Kassie, president of the Jewish Students' Association at the University of Guelph, said because Canada has a very poor record of helping Jewish refugees during the holocaust, the country now has a chance to show its pride by taking a stance against Nazi war criminals. "I'm going to circulate the petition to the Jewish Students' Union here."
But Paul Vickery, director of the war crimes unit in the Department of Justice, said the government is holding citizenship and deportation proceedings and has tried 12 cases since Jan. 1, 1995. "We anticipate we will have four trials within the coming year," he said. However, Meranda said the government has to be more active in actually deporting known criminals.
The signatures collected will be gathered together at a KolHastudentim Mega-Leadership Conference in mid-May and will be delivered to the government.