Ot­tawa sorry for ‘St. Louis’

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By STEVE SCHERER

OT­TAWA (Reuters) – Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau for­mally apol­o­gized on Wed­nes­day for the coun­try’s 1939 re­fusal to take in a ship car­ry­ing more than 900 Jewish refugees, adding that the coun­try would do more to pro­tect Cana­dian Jews from vi­o­lence.

The St. Louis left Ham­burg in May 1939 in des­per­ate search for a safe haven from per­se­cu­tion by Nazi Ger­many. Af­ter it was re­buffed by Canada and other na­tions, it re­turned to Europe, where his­to­ri­ans have es­ti­mated that 250 of the pas­sen­gers were mur­dered.

“We apol­o­gize to the 907 Ger­man Jews aboard the St. Louis, as well as their fam­i­lies,” Trudeau said. “We are sorry for the cal­lous­ness of Canada’s re­sponse. We are sorry for not apol­o­giz­ing sooner.”

The apol­ogy came less than two weeks af­ter a gun­man killed 11 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a Cana­dian woman, at a sy­n­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh. Vig­ils were held across Canada in the af­ter­math of the at­tack. Jewish Cana­di­ans “are un­der­stand­ably feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble” and there have been calls “to pro­tect syn­a­gogues and other places that are at risk of hate-mo­ti­vated crimes,” Trudeau said dur­ing his par­lia­men­tary ad­dress.

“I pledge to you all now: we will do more,” he said, not­ing that around 17% of all Cana­dian hate crimes tar­get Jews.

Shi­mon Kof­fler Fo­gel, head of the Cen­tre for Is­rael and Jewish Af­fairs, ap­plauded Trudeau’s “his­toric apol­ogy” and his pledge to ex­pand se­cu­rity mea­sures for Jewish in­sti­tu­tions.

Ear­lier, Trudeau met with Ana Maria Gor­don, the only sur­viv­ing Cana­dian pas­sen­ger from the ship, and her fam­ily mem­bers, and spoke about the need to fight an­ti­semitism.

Trudeau, a Lib­eral, has made a num­ber of apolo­gies for Canada’s his­toric fail­ings.

Last week, the prime min­is­ter vis­ited hun­dreds of in­dige­nous peo­ple in Bri­tish Columbia to apol­o­gize for the hang­ing of six chiefs 150 years ago.

In May 2016, six months af­ter tak­ing of­fice, he stood in par­lia­ment to apol­o­gize to the de­scen­dants of hun­dreds of pas­sen­gers of the Ko­ma­gata Maru, a Ja­panese ves­sel car­ry­ing Sikh, Mus­lim and Hindu mi­grants who were re­fused en­try into Canada un­der the 1914 im­mi­gra­tion laws.

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