Recently, in Toronto, representatives of the Progressive Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic parties of Canada came together to announce their official positions on the Ukrainian-Canadian internment redress case (see Federal political,.. p. 1).
The Liberals and the NDP promised support for our cause. Unfortunately, Ms Barbara Greene, speaking for the Conservatives, had nothing encouraging or new to say. The government, she insisted, was "considering" the UCC's requests, and, she admits, is now "aware" of the suffering experienced by Ukrainian Canadians during 1914-20. But she would give no assurances about precisely when the UCC might expect an answer to its October 1988 memoranda. Indeed she seemed to be hiding behind excuses similar to those made earlier by the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, Mr. Gerry Weiner - namely that the issue of acknowledgement and redress is "complex" and requires "further study."
Over 16 months have passed since the UCC left Mr. Weiner with a modest set of specific requests yet, to date, and despite being given this public opportunity to demonstrate the sensitivity and commitment he pledged to our community's case just before the last federal election, Mr. Weiner, and the government he represents did nothing. The Conservatives seem to have adopted a strategy rather like the one they tried with the National Association of Japanese Canadians, hoping that by ignoring that community's demands for apology and compensation they could wait them out. That strategy failed, of course, as it will in the Ukrainian-Canadian redress issue.
What happened to thousands of Ukrainians and other East Europeans in Canada during the First World War period was unwarranted and unjust and, as our spokesmen keep repeating, a time for atonement is finally at hand. Instead of facing up to the fact that their own handiwork, the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement, set a moral and legal precedent for other communities to bring their legitimate cases before the public and government, some Conservatives in government seem to be trying hard to sidestep the issue. By doing so they will not only alienate prospective voters but will give a lie to their flowery professions about being genuinely committed to fostering harmony and understanding in our multicultural society. If Mr. Weiner cannot or will not deal with the Ukrainian-Canadian redress issue, and that of our fellow Chinese, German and Italian Canadians, he should resign. In the meantime, we welcome the unambiguously supportive stands taken by the federal Liberal and New Democratic parties. Until the Conservatives start taking our community's interest more seriously they jeopardize our political support. The Liberals and New Democrats are beginning to demonstrate more sensitivity to the needs of our community.
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Document URL: http://www.infoukes.com/history/internment/booklet02/doc-049.html
Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
We acknowledge the help in the preparation of this document by Amanda Anderson
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Originally Composed: Tuesday December 3rd 1996.
Date last modified: Thursday October 30th 1997.