Here’s a quiz for anyone who wants to gaze into the crystal ball to see how the right in Canada is shaping up. Spoiler Alert – The Liberals are part of the problem.
- Who is touted as the best leader since Winston Churchill? Jason Kenney. He is predicted to sail through his leadership review in Red Deer AB in April.
- Who is the frontrunner for leader of the federal Tory party? Pierre Poilievre. He is doing a fine job of pushing the party right, come hell and high water.
- Could the right-wing Peoples Party of Canada once again steal votes from the Tories in the next federal election? You bet: In the 2021 federal election, Maxime Bernier’s party tripled its support and won 5% of the popular vote
- Who’s going to be the next Ontario premier? Doug Ford. Neither opposition party has a glimmer of hope of winning the provincial election in June.
- Who’s up to replace Justin Trudeau for prime minister? Chrystia Freeland, currently minister of finance and Canada’s deputy prime minister.
Did that last one stick in your craw? Do you doubt the shift to the right of the governing Liberals?
Don’t– Freeland’s politics veer right. That’s because, according to an article and photo in Passages here, Freeland proudly carried the fascist OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and UPA flag, adopted by Stepan Bandera, at a pro-Ukraine demonstration at Queen’s Park last week. Freeland is leading the Trudeau government’s charge against Russia. She is galloping ahead of other Canadians who, these days, have become decidedly pro-Ukraine.
The photo of Freeland holding the OUN flag, was taken down from her Twitter. But who was Stepan Bandera anyway? Bandera (1909-1959) was a virulent anti-Semite, a Ukrainian nationalist and pro-Hitler. He tried to forge a one party fascist dictatorship in Ukraine and to eliminate all ethnic groups, such as Poles, Jews, Russians and Rumanians.
Bandera supported many violent anti-Soviet actions. In 1933, he used his growing influence to steer an already-violent group in an even more extreme direction. As this article reveals,
“In 1933, he organized an attack on the Soviet consul in Lviv, which only managed to kill an office secretary. A year later, he directed the assassination of the Polish minister of the interior. He ordered the execution of a pair of alleged informers and was responsible for other deaths as well as the OUN took to robbing banks, post offices, police stations, and private households in search of funds.”David Lazare in Who was Stepan Bandera? in Jacobin, 24.09.15
In January 2010, Bandera was declared the “Hero of the Ukraine”, Ukraine’s highest honour. However, the chief rabbi of Ukraine protested, as did many of Ukraine’s anti-fascist citizens.
According to Scott Taylor, a Canadian syndicated columnist, a former Canadian soldier and editor of Esprit de Corps magazine, not only was Bandera a founder of OUN and a Nazi collaborator but also he participated in the murders of 4,000 to 6,000 Jews when OUN wrested Lviv from the Soviets in 1941. It was an “…an orgy of bloodletting that shocked even the Nazi Germans”, according to Taylor. In fact, the Ottawa Citizen recently revealed that Bandera and his OUN were responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Jews and Poles.
In 2018, Ukraine’s government declared Jan. 1st an annual holiday to celebrate the life of Bandera. On that day thousands participated in torch-lit parades in Lviv, Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine. In fact for the first holiday in 2019, the Lviv council announced 2019 would be the Year of Stepan Bandera – to mark 110 years since his birth.
John-Paul Himka, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Alberta and himself of Ukrainian descent, has a new book out Ukrainian Nationalists and the Holocaust
OUN and UPA’s Participation in the Destruction of Ukrainian Jewry, 1941–1944. He is also Chrystia Freeland’s uncle by marriage. He documents OUN’s outrageous actions against Jews during World War II.
“In the first phase, the militias, and the OUN leadership which established them, were primarily responsible for rounding up Jews for the Germans, although the militias did some killing themselves…. In the second phase, OUN … [had a] strategy of deliberately infiltrating the police, which drew its members and sympathizers into the eye of the genocidal storm. For the most part, Ukrainian policemen rounded Jews up for others to kill, but sometimes they themselves killed Jews. Altogether the death toll from police roundups was in the hundreds of thousands. In the third phase, OUN … was killing Jews primarily on its own initiative, as part of a far-reaching ethnic cleansing project; it was not only finding the Jews for murder, but its forces were perpetrating the killings themselves. The Jewish victims of OUN in this phase probably numbered in the thousands.”J-P Himka, in Ukrainian Nationalists and the Holocaust, OUN and UPA‘s Participation in the Destruction
Of Ukrainian Jewry, 1941–1944 (2021)
Azov Battalion: neo-Nazi soldiers
I wish I could say that the OUN was all in the past. However, for at least four years, the Canadian government has been spending vast sums of money on training Ukrainian soldiers, many of whom are part of the Azov Battalion. The Azov Battalion is a unit of the Ukrainian army linked to neo-Nazis. According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen , the training of Azov soldiers was revealed by a Jewish group in Ukraine which noticed a video showing Ukrainian paratroopers singing a song to honour Stepan Bandera. Though the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) leadership was warned in 2018 that they were training the right-wing and antisemitic Azov Battalion, the CAF paid scant attention. It was only when photos were taken of Canadian trainers and officers alongside members of the Azov Battalion that the CAF got worried.
Finally. By 2017, Chrystia Freeland had known for 20 years that her maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak, had been the editor of a Nazi newspaper Krakivski Visti during World War II. Almost exactly five years ago David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen, revealed that Chomiak had been a Nazi collaborator, and had edited the pro-Nazi paper (which was used as a Nazi propaganda organ after it had been stolen from its Jewish owners). Freeland and her defenders claim this was all Russian disinformation but the facts are well documented here.
While it is true that a granddaughter is not responsible for her grandfather’s errors and crimes, Freeland not only defended him but denied that he was a Nazi-sympathizer.
The truth is, in 1996, she assisted her uncle Himka, with research for a paper in the Journal of Ukrainian Studies on Chomiak’s connection with Krakivski Visti in the context of Ukrainian-Jewish relations.
“Glory to Ukraine”
Today Freeland is second in command to PM Trudeau. Today she is driving the government’s response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Oh, and that red-and-black banner that Freeland is holding in the photo? The combination of its design and its wording Slava Ukraini which means “Glory to Ukraine” are forever associated with the antisemitic and murderous Banderists. Says the Toronto Star here:
“Experts say that the red-and-black scarf has the same colour scheme as the flag of the UPA, a paramilitary wing of the far-right ultranationalist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Established in 1929, the OUN was explicitly xenophobic and antisemitic, according to Eduard Dolinsky, who leads the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.”Richie Assaly, Toronto Star, Mar. 2, 2022.
Freeland is no casual observer of Ukrainian affairs. With a Harvard undergraduate degree in Russian History and Literature and a Master’s from Oxford in Slavonic Studies, and from a family steeped in the history of the region, and reams of advice from her political handlers, she is well-schooled in Ukrainian history. Especially in the history of the second World War, and in the symbolism of its icons. She has absolutely no excuses.
The moves to the right are surrounding us – but who among us is ready to fight back?
Featured Photo illustration for The Intercept: by Soohee Cho (credit Getty Images)
“FACEBOOK WILL TEMPORARILY allow its billions of users to praise the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi military unit previously banned from being freely discussed under the company’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, The Intercept has learned.”By Sam Biddle, Feb. 24, 2022 Read more here.