TORONTO (Feb. 20)
More than two years after Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel left Canada vowing never to return, he has once again landed on Canada’s doorstep.
On Wednesday, the United States deported Zundel to Canada for missing an immigration hearing.
Zundel previously lived in Toronto for more than 40 years. But he failed repeatedly to gain Canadian citizenship, in part because Canadian intelligence officials considered him a threat to national security.
Zundel had been living near Knoxville, Tenn., until he was arrested Feb. 5.
Because he has lived outside of Canada for more than two years, he has now lost his permanent residency status.
The 63-year-old German citizen — who is now being held in an Ontario jail — has applied for asylum as a refugee, claiming he will be persecuted if he is sent back to his native Germany.
Jewish officials, who had lobbied the government not to allow him back into Canada, are now pressing Canadian authorities to deport him to Germany, where he faces a possible jail term of five years or more for his Holocaust denial.
“He left Canada voluntarily and basically turned his back on the country,” said Keith Landy, national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress.
“He is a hatemonger and Holocaust denier, and there is no obligation on Canada’s part to let him in.
“He’s a citizen of Germany, and that’s where he should be sent,” Landy said.
Under Canadian refugee law, federal officials are not obliged to hear every refugee claim.
Some observers have suggested that Zundel is ineligible for a refugee hearing and could be deported to Germany within days.
But others, including Toronto immigration lawyer Sergio Karas, paint a more negative scenario by suggesting that the case could drag on for years at public expense.
Immigration Minister Denis Coderre would not comment on the case because of privacy concerns, but he expressed disdain for people who attempt to make a “mockery” of Canada’s refugee system.
“I’m totally dedicated to make sure that the legitimate people who are seeking our generosity will be facilitated,” Coderre said. But “those who are trying the system and who give a bad reputation to our system should be careful.”
In January 2001, a Canadian human rights tribunal ruled that Zundel broke the law through his operation of a California-based Web site that vilified and promoted hatred against Jews.
But Zundel, who had already left the country in anticipation of the ruling, ignored the tribunal’s order to remove all anti-Semitic material from his site.
Within hours of his forced return to Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Jewish Congress served papers on him ordering that he show cause as to why he shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for not complying with the tribunal’s ruling.
Last year, after the tribunal reached its verdict, Zundel told a Canadian reporter that he had no intention of complying with it.
“You’re talking to the new Ernst Zundel,” he said at the time.”They used to accuse me of Holocaust denial. Well, now I’m in Canada denial. I have put Canada behind me.”
Zundel has been married for three years to an American citizen, Ingrid Rimland Zundel, who operates his Web site and sends out daily e-mail messages to his supporters.
In her “Z-gram” of Feb. 16, Ingrid Zundel speculated that his arrest was prompted by “old-fashioned talmudic revenge.”
Zundel, who has penned numerous books and treatises applauding Hitler and denying the Holocaust, was convicted in the 1980s of “knowingly publishing false news,” a charge that Canada’s Supreme Court struck down in 1992 before he served any jail time.
He is also the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant in Germany, where he has been convicted in absentia of Holocaust denial and other hate-related crimes.
“To be a refugee, a person has to have a bona fide fear of persecution,” said Bernie Farber, the executive director of the Congress’ Ontario region. “The only fear Zundel has is of prosecution from a free and democratic country like Germany.”
“He is truly the man that nobody wants.”