Cathy McLeod said it was a powerful moment in the House of Commons on Wednesday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for Canada turning away Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in 1939.
“I think the prime minister and all the leaders spoke very eloquently to the tragedy of the MS St. Louis and I think the words ‘never again’ have to strike home, especially in light of the recent shooting in the synagogue in the U.S.,” McLeod, the Conservative MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, told KTW.
In 1939, the MS St. Louis, carrying more than 900 German Jewish passengers fleeing Nazi violence, tried to dock in Halifax, but passengers were denied asylum by then-prime minister Mackenzie King. The ship sailed back to Europe, where hundreds died in the Holocaust.
Some surviving passengers were in the House of Commons to hear the apology and opposition party responses.
“Canada turned its back on you, but today Canadians pledge, now and forever, never again,” Trudeau said.
Between 1933 and 1945, Canada admitted just 7,000 Jews — the fewest of any of the Allied countries, Trudeau said.
He said the Oct. 27 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, where a gunman shot and killed 11 people simply because they were Jewish, shows anti-Semitism still exists in society.