Trudeau calls for Canadians to 'stand up against antisemitic attitudes' in apology


More than 250 of them died in the Holocaust.

In the run-up to the second world war and the ensuing Holocaust, the government heeded antisemitic sentiment and severely restricted Jewish immigration.

The prevalence of anti-Semitism in contemporary society showed itself nearly two weeks ago when a gunman killed 11 worshippers inside a Pittsburgh synagogue simply because they were Jewish, Trudeau said.

"According to the most recent figures, 17 per cent of all hate crimes in Canada target Jewish people - far higher per capita than any other group", the Prime Minister said.

After apologizing to the passengers of the MS St. Louis, Trudeau will extend his apology to all Jews affected by Canada's anti-Semitic policies.

"We certainly hope it is a catalyst for a greater discussion about contemporary anti-Semitism and what can be done by all of us - regardless of our background - and particularly what can be done on the part of government and elected officials to fight anti-Semitism", Steve McDonald, the director of policy with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said last week.

Louis returned to Germany and the passengers scattered in Europe. From 1933 to 1945, only about 5,000 Jewish refugees were accepted.

"We 900 immigrants looking for safe haven were denied that and fortunately there are countries such as Canada who are willing to take those truly looking for safe haven and looking for a place to reside without being persecuted", Wiener said.

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Opposition party leaders also called Canada's policies at the time unacceptable in speeches on the week marking the 80th anniversary of what is known as "Kristallnacht". "We refused to help them when we could have".

Trudeau met the only surviving Canadian passenger of the St. Louis shortly before making the apology.

"I firmly believe that to recognize an error publicly leads towards better understanding and healing", she told a reception following the apology.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized in parliament on Wednesday for Canada's refusal to admit Jewish asylum seekers fleeing Nazi Germany just months before the outbreak of World War II.

Gordon said history continues to repeat itself and even today "many people are discriminated against, starving or running for their lives".

"This apology should not make us comfortable".

The story of the St. Louis gained renewed interest past year when picture and stories of the victims circulated on social media in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to ban immigration and refugee settlement from certain countries.

The Liberals' new immigration plan calls for up accepting to 16,500 protected persons in 2019, a category that includes refugees, growing to 20,000 in 2021. "Anti-Semitism is still far too present", he said.