Government defends decision to strip Oberlander's citizenship for third time
Published Friday, December 28, 2012 11:09AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 28, 2012 6:30PM EST
Seventeen years after he first fought deportation from Canada, Helmut Oberlander is right back where he started.
In September, the federal government filed an order-in-council to strip the longtime Waterloo resident of his Canadian citizenship.
It’s the third time the government has attempted to revoke Oberlander’s citizenship, and the 88-year-old’s daughter says she can’t believe the government is trying yet again after being overruled twice before.
“We have won twice in the Federal Court of Appeal. His citizen has been restored twice. It’s unprecedented that the federal government would strip my father of his citizenship yet again,” said Irene Rooney.
As they have in the past, Oberlander’s lawyers have filed for a judicial review, asking the governor-in-council to reconsider the decision.
The application claims the government ignored and misinterpreted evidence in coming to its decision.
Oberlander’s battle with the government began in 1995, when he was accused of crimes against humanity due to his connection to a Second World War Nazi killing commando group. A second attempt to revoke his citizenship was made in 2007.
The government argues that the Ukrainian-born Oberlander did not declare his military past when he came to Canada.
In an email statement, a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the federal government is “committed to identifying and deporting from Canada people involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
This includes Nazis who perpetrated reprehensible crimes during the Holocaust, as these criminals must face justice for their horrific crimes.”
Oberlander has maintained that he was conscripted into the Einsatzkommando under duress as a 17-year-old to work as a translator, was never a Nazi and has never been charged with any war crimes.
Eric Hasfmann, a former lawyer for Oberlander, says Jewish advocacy groups are behind the government’s campaign.
“Once it is established that Mr. Oberlander was conscripted, taken by force without pay to act as nothing more or less than an interpreter, these Jewish organizations should accept that, because this has been the third time around,” he said.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says they support and applaud the government’s decision.
“Justice should be done,” spokesperson Hank Rosenbaum told CTV.
“Real justice should be done. By going to the court, this is not justice – this is delaying tactics.”
No date has been set for the judicial review.