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Holocaust Denial

Holocaust Denial

Over the past 30 years, there have been several Canadians who have publicly denied the Holocaust. For example, in 1996, after a series of appeals, Mr. Jim Kegstra, a teacher at a rural high school in the province of Alberta, born in 1934, was finally convicted. In 1981 the school authorities received the first complaints from the parents of his students. The investigation revealed that for more than ten years Kegstra had taught schoolchildren that the Holocaust, in which Nazi Germany murdered six million European Jews, was a "hoax". He also referred to the Jewish people in ugly, disparaging terms and claimed that the Jews were trying to take over the world through internationally orchestrated conspiracies.

In January 1984, Kegstra was charged with criminal hate propaganda against an identifiable group under section 281 (2) - now section 319 (2) - of the Criminal Code of Canada . It stated, in part, "Anyone who, by conveying statements other than in private conversation, knowingly advocates hatred of an identifiable group is guilty of criminal prosecution and liable to imprisonment for up to two years." He was found guilty in 1985. But Kegstra appealed repeatedly, arguing that the Criminal Code violated his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression. The case reached the Supreme Court of Canada in 1990 and 1996. The court ultimately ruled against Kegstra, ruling that Canadian hate laws imposed "reasonable restrictions" on a person's freedom of expression.

In August 2017, famed Canadian Holocaust denier Mr. Ernst Zündel died in Germany. He was known for his 1994 campaign to ban the movie Schindler's List in Canada, writing and distributing anti-Semitic books in which he denied the Holocaust, selling Holocaust-denying souvenirs, etc. On May 2, 2003, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre and Solicitor General Wayne Easter gave Zündel a "national security certificate" under the terms of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada, stating that he was a national security threat to Canada because of his alleged ties to violent neo-Nazi groups, including Aryan Nations leader Richard Hirnt Butler, a neo-Nazi Christian church and former Aryan Nations leader Terry Longo. As a German citizen, Zündel was deported to Germany on March 1, 2005. Upon his arrival at Frankfurt Airport, he was immediately arrested and imprisoned in Mannheim prison pending trial for incitement to racial hatred.

On July 19, 2005, the German Prosecutor's Office charged Zündel with 14 counts of incitement to racial hatred, which is punishable under the German Penal Code, Section 130, 2. (3) ( Agitation (incitement to insurrection) of the people) with a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years. The indictment states that Zündel "denied the extermination of the Jews by the National Socialist authorities, and justified it by saying that the mass exterminations at Auschwitz and Treblinka, among other things, were a Jewish invention." On February 15, 2007, Zündel was sentenced to five years in prison, the maximum possible sentence for violating the Volksverhetzung law in the German Penal Code, which prohibits incitement to hatred.

Finally, in 2018, a Canadian woman of German descent, former federal Green Party candidate Monika Schaefer of Jasper, Alta, was also convicted in Germany. She was sentenced to 10 months in prison for recording and posting a YouTube video in which she called the Holocaust "the most pernicious and persistent lie in all of history" and referred to concentration camps as "work camps" that had no gas chambers. Her brother, a German citizen in whose house they recorded the video together, was also sentenced to 3 years and 2 months in prison.

Despite the fact that Holocaust denial is not a widespread phenomenon in Canada, in April 2022 amendments to the penal code were introduced to parliament, which made it a criminal offence. Officials of the country's ruling coalition believe the change is consistent with existing Canadian laws that criminalize hate speech and genocide propaganda.

"There is no place in Canada for anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial," Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told CTV. "That's why we have pledged to prohibit the deliberate promotion of anti-Semitism by condoning, denying or downplaying the Holocaust. The Holocaust was one of the darkest pages in human history. We must preserve its memory, fight modern anti-Semitism, and be unequivocal in saying: never again. Observers estimate that the amendment will meet no resistance in parliament and that Canada will soon become the 18th country in the world to treat Holocaust denial as a punishable crime.

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