Holocaust denier’s future now in hands of Federal Court of Canada
The Standard (Canada), May 3, 2003
By COREY LAROCQUE
Local News – Ernst Zundel’s controversial stay in Niagara might soon be over after federal Immigration Minister Denis Coderre trumped his claim for refugee status, declaring Zundel a threat to national security.
Zundel, notorious for his controversial views on the Holocaust, complained the process smacked of a “banana republic-style dictatorship.”
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Catherine Simmie, a member of the Immigration Division, adjourned a hearing in Niagara Falls after about 20 minutes Friday morning. The hearing was to determine whether Zundel, 64, would remain in jail or could be released while his status in Canada is sorted out.
But immigration officer Bill Reid told the hearing he had served Zundel with a national security certificate and an arrest warrant Thursday. Zundel’s lawyer received the documents Friday.
A lawyer for the immigration department argued immigration laws require an adjournment when those documents are issued and the Federal Court of Canada assumes jurisdiction over the proceedings.
Zundel’s lawyer Doug Christie agreed. “It seems mandatory … there has to be an adjournment,” Christie said.
He added the Federal Court is required to hold its own detention review within 48 hours of the certificate being issued.
Immigration officials in Niagara Falls were not sure whether that review would take place here or in Ottawa. Zundel has been staying at the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold since the United States deported him Feb. 19 because his visa expired.
In Ottawa, Coderre declined to provide any details of the case against Zundel. Coderre would only say Zundel is considered a threat to Canadian security under the provision for individuals “whose presence promotes some violence.”
“I won’t let anybody make a mockery of our system,” Coderre said.
The immigration minister wouldn’t speculate about how long it will take to determine Zundel’s status. “It’s in the Federal Court’s hands now.”
“Maybe some people would have liked this to move more rapidly but it is important that we be sure that we can take action,” Coderre earlier told the House of Commons.
“This is what we have done.”
Canadian Immigration officials want Zundel deported to his native Germany because his belief the Holocaust didn’t happen and other anti-Semitic writings make him a threat to national security. They say his presence here could incite a white supremacist movement. Zundel wants refugee status because he faces hate crime charges in Germany.
A Federal Court judge is expected to begin a detention review to decide whether Zundel should remain in jail while the court decides if the security certificate is appropriate. Much of that takes place behind closed doors.
When a judge determines a security certificate is reasonable, it automatically becomes a deportation order, said Immigration spokeswoman Simone MacAndrew in Ottawa
About 40 Zundel supporters, who had come from as far away as Toronto and London, filled the hearing room on McLeod Road Friday. They clapped as Zundel entered, carrying a cardboard box filled with documents.
Some were members of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, which staged a demonstration outside the immigration office. They stood in the parking lot with a banner reading, “Jailers, Obey the Law. Free Zundel Now.”
“What we’re talking about is a lot of people who are interested in free speech. This man shouldn’t be in jail,” said organizer Paul Fromm.
After the hearing was adjourned, Zundel turned to his supporters and complained the government had “usurped due process.”
“It is in the best style of banana republic-style dictatorships,” he said. “They could not face an open court hearing. They’re going to ship me off to the Fatherland.”
He spoke for about five minutes before two Niagara Regional Police officers returned him to his cell.
There were angry exchanges in the hearing room between Zundel’s backers and Canadian Jewish Congress representative Len Rudner, with one woman calling Rudner “a fascist.”
Rudner had told reporters Zundel “is an anti-Semite. This is a step in the right direction.”
— with files from The Canadian Press