Minister Freeland's Grandfather,
"It takes a village to raise a Nazi" (old African proverb, slightly modified)
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This issue (#68) deals with the mass internment of Ukrainian Canadians, this community's left-right split and the mainstream racist, xenophobic anti-communism of progressive "Social Gospellers" (like the CCF's J.S. Woodsworth) who were so captivated by their false beliefs that they carried out the genocide of First Nations and turned a blind eye to government repression during the 20th-century "Red Scare."
Chrystia Freeland's grandfather is something of a diversion. The broader truth that must come out of the Canadian closet is that in the years immediately following WWII, tens of thousands of "displaced persons" of Ukrainian heritage were brought into this country by Canada's notoriously antiSemitic Liberal government. Many thousands of these immigrants harboured such extremely nationalistic ideologies towards Ukraine that they had sympathised and collaborated with the Nazi regime during the war. Many were pleased to do this because they had been led to believe ‑ by their mass media, the church and other powerful civic institutions ‑ that the Third Reich was a benevolent, liberating force which was assisting them in the noble cause of promoting Ukrainian culture. They also felt a strong affinity to the Nazis because they shared a common worldview which despised two mortal enemies: Jews and communists. This worldview ‑ regarding a Judeo-Bolshevik enemy ‑ was also shared by many mainstream Canadians at that time, including many among this country's top political and religious leaders.
The new Ukrainian Canadians who emigrated here after WWII included several thousand veterans from two military formations within the Nazi military's embrace: the Waffen SS Galicia and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (known by its Ukrainian acronym, UPA). The latter was the militarized wing of that faction of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, the OUN(B), that was led by an infamous Ukrainian fascist named Stepan Bandera. Many Canadian offspring of this "Third Wave" of Ukrainian immigrants still continue to perpetuate a hero-cult reverence towards the memory of these WWII veterans, their political and military leaders, and the extremely rightwing, nationalist ideologies that they epitomise. For example, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, and its longstanding president Paul Grod, who Chrystia Freeland counts among her friends, has long had numerous core national member organisations that represent the leadership of both factions within the OUN, including the more extreme Banderites. Congress membership has also included the key associations representing the UPA, the Waffen SS Galicia, and a Bandera youth organisation, the Ukrainian Youth Association, which ‑ like scouting outfits across the British empire ‑ is structured along military lines.
When the Liberal government orchestrated this largescale, postwar influx of Ukrainian émigrés, some Canadians were overjoyed to welcome them. Others however felt betrayed, again. The organisation which most vociferously supported the Mackenzie King government's move to allow former Nazi sympathisers, supporters and collaborators into Canada was the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. This organisation had been established by the Liberal government in 1940 in order to consolidate all anticommunist Ukrainians under one roof. Their rival organisation in Canada was the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC), a progressive organisation which includes social democrats, socialists and communists. Before the Liberals manufactured the Congress and brought in tens of thousands of Ukrainians after the war, the AUUC had been the most powerful voice within Canada's Ukrainian émigré community.[i]
The Liberal government's efforts to bring thousands of Ukrainian nationalist war veterans into the Canadian fold was passionately opposed by the AUUC and the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC).[ii] The AUUC and the CJC both represented cultural communities that had been severely repressed by successive Anglo-Protestant Canadian governments. While the Jewish community suffered bigotry and segregation based merely on religious/ethnic discrimination, the AUUC was punished for its politics. Red Scares had twice made the AUUC illegal and all of its newspapers and other publications were banned. Tons of books from AUUC libraries were literally burned, its leaders arrested, and its printing presses and Labour Temples (meeting halls) were seized and in some cases even turned over to ultranationalists associated with Ukrainian Canadian Congress.[iii] Canada's decidedly antiSemitic and anticommunist state has gone through phases of extreme social paranoia which exhibited zero tolerance for either Judaism or communism. These -isms were seen as totally contradictory to Canada's "Christian values."
Despite this history of repression, the Liberal government has a reputation for embracing diversity and multiculturalism. This image stands in stark contrast to its notoriously antiSemitic immigration policies before and during WWII. Just before the war, Mackenzie King's Liberal government actually used the Canadian Navy to turn away a passenger ship carrying about 1000 Jewish refugees. These unwanted souls were pushed away from the safety of Canadian harbours and sent back to Europe where most met their deaths in the Holocaust. When it came to Jews, Canada's immigration policy was that "none is too many."[iv]
Then, during WWII, when Britain sent tens of thousands of its POWs to Canada, the Liberals found ‑ to their horror ‑ that there were thousands of Jewish and Communist refugees among these prisoners. The Liberal government was outraged. They managed to send about half of these unwanted refugees back to Britain but were forced to keep some 2,000 Jews and 300 communists. The Government of Canada promptly interned these refugees in POW camps in four provinces, including Camp "N," where they were surrounded by barbed wire, guard towers and armed Canadian soldiers, for much of WWII.[v]
And, lest we forget, MacKenzie King wrote glowingly in his diaries about the various friendly personal meetings that he had in Europe with luminaries such as Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Gestapo-founder Hermann Göring, SS Gruppenführer Konstantin von Neurath and other infamous Nazis. Besides being a hardcore antiSemite, King greatly admired Europe’s fascist leaders. In particular, he greatly respected the ardent zeal with which they persecuted communists.[vi] These are only a few of the shady parts of Liberal Canadian heritage that many party faithful would rather not know about, and probably never will.
But within the sheltered world of the newly-arrived, ultranationalist Ukrainian-Canadian village, the Government of Canada has always been seen as a benevolent force that has guarded and encouraged their particular political, religious and ethnic rights. After leaving the generous and nurturing protection of the Nazi regime, which provided him with shelter and employment during the war, Michael Chomiak again felt welcomed after the war when Canada's beneficent Liberal government welcomed him to his new land. And, let's not forget another parallel. In both cases, the governments which welcomed Chomiak and his community, had taken political possession of the territory through occupation and colonisation, using processes that included xenophobic and racist propaganda, ethnic cleansing and, yes, genocide.
Here is how Chrystia Freeland has described
her Ukrainian grandfather's unquestioningly vociferous devotion to his newly
still-popular view of Canadian global supremacy is not shared by Indigenous
populations and others, many Ukrainian Canadians ‑ whose parents and
grandparents emigrated here soon after WWII ‑ feel an understandable debt of
gratitude towards the Canadian state. The Liberal government and succeeding
Conservative ones did, after all, institute a multicultural model which
actively encouraged Ukrainians to proudly promote their culture with all of
its strongly focused belief systems. Chrystia Freeland is not alone in
retaining a corresponding sense of great pride and respect for her Ukrainian
forebears who after coming to Canada, passed along to their offspring an
undying support for the cause of patriotic Ukrainian national building.
Sources and Notes
[i] For a summary of the UCC's origins and the historic importance of its fascist- and Nazi-linked veterans member organisations, see these three articles:
"Left-Right Camps: A Century of Ukrainian Canadian Internment" and
"Glorifying Ukrainian-Canadian Veterans of OUN/UPA Terrorism," Press
for Conversion!, Captive
2016, pp.44-49, 52-53.
"Waffen SS Galician Division Revered by Canada’s Ukrainian Right,"
Press for Conversion!, Captive
Earlean M. McCarrick, "Ethnic Politics Canadian Style: The Clash over
Nazi War Criminals,"
Wiesenthal Center Annual Volume 7
Richard Sanders, "Left-Right Camps: A Century of Ukrainian Canadian
Internment" and "Glorifying Ukrainian-Canadian Veterans of OUN/UPA
Terrorism," Press for Conversion!, Captive
[vi] Diaries of W.L.Mackenzie King, September 27-28, 1928 (on Mussolini) and June 23-29, 1937 (on Hitler, Göring and von Neurath)