Prosecution asked to present facts of the Holocaust in front of Quebec Court following defence attorney Hélène Poussard’s denialist defence arguments
Montreal, QC – November 25, 2022 – Ahead of today’s planned court hearing in Quebec to determine whether the fact that Nazism led to the Holocaust should be recognized as common knowledge, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) reaffirms that not only is the Holocaust recognized as a historical fact under Canadian Jurisprudence, but Holocaust denial is also, since June 23, 2022, a criminal offence in Canada.
Today’s hearing was called last July, after attorney Hélène Poussard, defending Gabriel Sohier-Chaput, on trial for the wilful promotion of hatred and who has been accused of attempting to recruit others to join the neo-Nazi movement, questioned the number of Holocaust victims and whether the Nazis had set out to exterminate Jews, referring to it as a cost-saving measure instead. Poussard said: “It wasn’t part of the initial plan to exterminate the Jews. And was it really six million victims? I believe that, if people died in concentration camps, it was to save money.”
“The Holocaust is the most carefully documented genocide in the world,” said CIJA Quebec Vice President Eta Yudin. “There is undeniable physical, written, and eye-witness evidence – provided by the perpetrators, by their victims, and by bystanders. The Nazi regime’s genocidal intent was clear, and courts have long accepted the lived experiences of millions of our people as proof of this historical fact. Moreover, as wilfully promoting antisemitism by condoning, denying or downplaying the Holocaust is now a criminal offence (s. 319 (2.1) of the Criminal Code), Poussard should be careful not to go down the same path as her client.”
In Canada, in the August 1992 R v. Zundel case, in which CIJA predecessor, the Canadian Jewish Congress was an intervenor, the Supreme Court confirmed the Holocaust is a historical fact that must be regarded as proven.
In Quebec, in the 2000 Lafferty, Harwood & Partners v. Parizeau case and its subsequent 2003 appeal, the court recognized the Nazi regime’s fundamentally racist ideology, its relentless targeting of Jews, and its plans to use its concentration camps to exterminate the Jewish population.
In the United States, judicial activism by Holocaust Survivor Mel Mermelstein contributed to making the Holocaust a fact accepted into judicial notice in October 1981.
“Poussard should have known she was out of bounds when she presented her denialist line of argument,” said Yudin. “This incident is yet another example demonstrating the need to make Holocaust and antisemitism education mandatory in the Quebec school curriculum.”
“We hope the trial can resume after this frivolous interlude so that her client, Sohier-Chaput, can be judged for the hate he spewed online and the impact it has had on Jewish people in Quebec, Canada, and around the world.”
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