KINGSTON, ONT.—I’ve heard it all before. It was fake news then and it’s still fake now. Allegations about supposed “Nazis in Canada”—the most recent regurgitation targeting our Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland—have been around for decades. Understandably, just after the war’s end, Jewish Canadians were alarmed at the prospect of “Ukrainian Nazis” escaping justice by posing as Displaced Persons. In response, the Liberal government initiated high-level inquiries ensuring no such villains resettled in our midst. Nevertheless, claims about “thousands of Nazi war criminals hiding in Canada” resurfaced in the early 1980s, resulting in a Progressive Conservative government establishing the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals headed by the (late) justice Jules Deschênes. Tellingly, its public report, released in the spring of 1987, rebuked those who had spread “increasingly large and grossly exaggerated” figures about “Nazi war criminals,” a campaign engineered to provoke public disquiet. Back then, an anonymous denunciation could get your name added to a suspects list—in one case a couple were investigated for having a German surname and two black dogs on their secluded property, “evidence” enough for self-styled “Nazi hunters” to pounce.
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