Tuesday, May 25, 2021

History versus politics: the apology to interned Italians in the Second World War

On Thursday, the prime minister will offer a formal apology to Italian enemy aliens who were interned in Canada during the Second World War, despite comprehensive historical evidence that the internment conformed to international law, was directed against individuals with links to Fascist organizations developed in Canada by Mussolini's diplomats during the 1930s, and (from more than 122,000 Italian-Canadians) covered only some 600 people, many of whom were released on having demonstrated that their internment was misguided or having committed to peaceable behaviour.

The evidence is comprehensively presented in Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad, a collection of essays edited by Franca Iacovetta, Roberto Perin, and Angelo Principe, and published in 2000 by the University of Toronto Press after a previous campaign for such an apology. 

Interning known and suspected supporters of an enemy power in wartime hardly seems like something for a state at war to apologize for. However, there are a lot of Italian-Canadian voters determined to get their share of the apologies going around. Yeesh.

Previous note on this subject here.

Update, May 26:  Russ Chamberlayne responds:  

Perhaps with wise advice from Stephen Harper, Bill Clinton et al., the Trudeau government might want to set up an Apology Secretariat in its own high-profile building (the Repentagon?).



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