Trudeau apologises for Canada's 1939 refusal of Jewish refugee ship

Trudeau at German Holocaust Memorial

He called on Canadians to stand up against those "xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes".

The ensuing days have seen countrywide vigils and, Trudeau said, calls for the government do to more through a federal program that funds security improvements at places at risk of hate-motivated crimes, such as synagogues. But it is our collective responsibility to acknowledge this hard truth, learn from this story, and continue to fight against antisemitism every day, as we give meaning to the solemn vow: "'Never again'".

He said lawmakers at the time used Canadian laws to mask antisemitism.

Standing in the Canadian parliament chamber, Trudeau spoke in both English and French as he apologized. "We also apologize to others who paid the price of our inaction, whom we doomed to the ultimate horror of the death camps", the prime minister said late on Wednesday.

The apology connected past to present, showing how the hate that animated Canada's treatment of Jewish refugees is still ingrained in contemporary politics Canada, the USA and elsewhere.

Noting that around 17% of all Canadian hate crimes target the Jews, Trudeau pledged that the country will do more for their safety.

"Holocaust deniers still exist".

"That's obviously good news", Trudeau said to reporters on his way into the weekly Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.

"The ship came right outside Halifax harbour!" said Jon Goldberg, former executive director of the Atlantic Jewish Council. "These tragic events ultimately attest to the work we still have to do". The United States later turned them away. "Far fewer than the United Kingdom and significantly less per capita than the United States", Trudeau said. The ship sailed back to Europe, where hundreds died in the Holocaust. One of the victims, 75-year-old Joyce Fienberg, grew up in Toronto and had ties to the city's Jewish community. "Instead, it will whitewash a government that did nothing to help the Jews who were fleeing the Nazis and ignored the type of anti-Semitism that was endemic in Canada until the 1970s".

"It was very important that the government made this statement and fulsome apology for the past", said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B'nai Brith Canada.

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