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Hasn't Canada seen the last of Zundel?
Friday, February 21, 2003 - Page A14

Ernst Zundel, stateless.

Imagine that.

A nomad, a wanderer, a rootless cosmopolitan.

It's almost enough to make the fellow identify with the Jews!

Not Mr. Zundel, whose life has been dedicated to vilifying Jewish people. 
Having made a very big mistake -- not realizing how lucky he was to possess 
something called "permanent-resident status" in Canada -- this professional 
anti-Semite foolishly left to ply his hateful trade in the United States.

In short, he snubbed Canada. He said Canada considered him a 
Holocaust-denier and tried through the Canadian Human Rights Commission to 
shut down his Web site. "Well, now I'm in Canada-denial. I've put Canada 
behind me," he said last year from his new home in Tennessee.

Lo and behold, the Americans did not like him any better than we did. After 
overstaying his visa and failing to appear for a meeting with immigration 
authorities, he was kicked out for the next 20 years.

So he's back here, knocking at the door. There are reports that he wishes 
to claim refugee status. He apparently fears that Germany, his birthplace, 
which has strong anti-hate and Holocaust-denial laws, would persecute him 
on the basis of his beliefs if he were deported there and pursued his 
vocation. Mr. Zundel appears not to understand the difference between a 
persecution and a prosecution in a democratic country that respects human 
rights.

And weren't Canada's liberal refugee laws designed with the memory of the 
Jews in mind -- the shameful period of the 1930s and 40s when Canada turned 
its back on those who sought to flee for their lives? What a grotesque irony.

But he might decide instead to argue that he is still a permanent resident 
of this country. Under a Canadian law that took effect last summer, 
individuals who have been out of Canada for more than three of the past 
five years may be stripped of permanent-resident status. (The old law said 
permanent status could be lost if the person were out of the country for 
more than half the previous year.)

Canada should do what it lawfully can to ensure that this country never 
again becomes this man's home. Ernst Zundel does not deserve such a home. 
His Web site was described by the human rights commission as a place where 
Jews are described in the most rabid manner. Before the Internet, he was a 
major publisher of anti-Semitic tracts. Canada does not deserve him, either.

If Mr. Zundel seeks permanent residency, this country should fight it. If 
he seeks refugee status, it should promptly deport him when, inevitably, he 
loses.

It is unpleasant to contemplate having this clown prince of bigotry inside 
this country's borders once more; but above all, Canada values due process 
and the rule of law, even for those who mock those values.

Canada should not do Mr. Zundel the honour of turning its laws and 
procedures inside out to prevent future Ernst Zundels from making a mockery 
of our system. In particular, the government should not concoct some means 
of declaring him a threat to national security, as reports say it might, to 
deprive him of a day in court. He is not the first to try to exploit the 
refugee system.

Accused torturers, terrorists and war criminals have already done that, and 
the federal government has quite properly taken steps to streamline the 
appeals process, while maintaining due process.

This is a tolerant land. Its highest court once struck down a conviction 
against Mr. Zundel for spreading false news, arguing that such a crime 
should not exist in a free and democratic society. And we agreed with that 
ruling.

But enough is enough. Ernst Zundel has taken up far too much of this 
country's time and attention, and should claim no more of it beyond the 
legal hearing to which our rules entitle him. When he left, he said it was 
forever. So it should be. Canada should not become a haven for the hateful.

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