Canada, a prosperous country known for its kind people and multicultural mosaic today, was not always the welcoming land of the free. As a matter of fact, throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Canada took in fewer Jews proportionate to its population to any other country in the western world . This era marked the rise and fall of Hitler but more often forgotten than not, it also highlights a dark past of Canadian history. One notable incident during this era was the refusal to take the St. Louis in as refuge by the Canadian government. On May 15, 1939, 907 German Jews with visa for Cuba fled from Nazi persecution by boarding the SS St. Louis, in search of a better life in the western world. However, Cuba later denied the ship permission to land, while the United States coast guard escorted the St. Louis away . Their last strand of hope was to plead to Canada for refuge, but discrepancies between the landing permits and visas and failed diplomacy on behalf of Canada’s part resulted in the failure of immigration. The passengers of the SS St. Louis were denied entrance into Canada because of the mentality that it was not a Canadian issue to deal with, economic factors, and prevalent anti-Semitism throughout Canada.
One of the most compelling and frankly apparent reasons for the rejection of the St. Louis was the fact that the government did not want to deal with the Jews through any means. First of all, F.C. Blair, the Director of Immigration felt that the refugees were not qualified to enter Canada based on their current immigration policy. He suggested that, “No country could open its doors wide enough to take in hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who want to leave Europe: the line must be drawn somewhere.” In other words, he felt that no exception should be made for Jewish refugees in relation to Canada’s immigration policy . Moreover, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King believed that Canada was not responsible for solving internal difficulties of other...
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