When I was a reporter at The Toronto Star in 1980, I covered what is still one of the biggest business scandals in Canadian history, the so-called Greymac Affair. The scandal was complicated but simply told three unsavory individuals gained influence or control of some of Canada’s most vaunted financial institutions, embarrassed one of the most respected real estate companies in North America, and managed to circumvent Toronto’s rent control laws by acquiring 10 percent of all the rental units in the city.

A mysterious Saudi Arabian investor supposedly bankrolled the whole shebang.

In a display of political might that frightened me, the Ontario government seized all the assets of the scandal’s perpetrators without any due process. What they had done wasn’t illegal, but rather a circumvention of laws and sleeping regulators. At a news conference, Ontario’s finance minister took me aside and fed me some damning information about the perpetrators I knew was a lie.

My sources were impeccable. I knew what really happened.

Canada hasn’t changed since I decamped to the U.S. more than three decades ago. Reading the language of Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland disclosing her draconian plans to freeze the financial assets of Canadian truckers who continue to be an embarrassment to the administration of Justin Trudeau, I immediately recalled the Ontario government overreach when I reported about the Greymac affair.

Here’s a sampling of Freeland’s language as reported by Toronto Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski.

We are today serving notice: if your truck is being used in these protests, your corporate accounts will be frozen. The insurance on your vehicle will be suspended. Send your semi-trailers home.

“What we are facing today is a threat to our democratic institutions, to our economy, and to peace, order, and good government in Canada,” she said. “This is unacceptable.

“It cannot stand and it will not stand.”

It’s a wonder to me how even the 54 percent of Canadians who are unsympathetic to the truckers couldn’t be alarmed by Freeland’s tactics and the language she used to communicate them. Trudeau assured opposition leaders that the emergency measures would only be used to keep the U.S.-Canada border open and ensure the free flow of goods. Trudeau only has a mandate to arrest those who are disrupting commerce.

Where does the Trudeau government get the right to freeze bank accounts, cancel insurance, and deny mostly peaceful protesters their livelihoods? Moreover, in Canada regulation of auto insurance is a provincial responsibility. I can find no record that any province has agreed to Freeland’s order, so perhaps she’s planning on usurping provincial powers as well.

Chrystia Freeland

Freeland’s prose is the language of dictators, much like Trudeau’s, who said Canadian protesters had “unacceptable views.” Freeland’s actions become more alarming when considered with her family past.

Freeland’s late maternal grandfather, Michael (Mykhail) Chomiac, was a Nazi collaborator who served as editor-in-chief of an antisemitic newspaper in Cracow whose printing presses were seized from its Jewish owner. According to multiple reports, the newspaper, Krakivski Visti, was so antisemitic that when the Nazis slaughtered 33,000 Jews in Kiev’s Babi Yar ravine, Krakivski Visti declared the Jews “got their comeuppance” and that without Jews, Kiev had become “beautiful, glorious.”

Freeland’s background is not an internet conspiracy theory. It came to public light five years ago when she was named Canada’s foreign affairs minister, although admittedly most of the Canadian media whitewashed the story. That said, the ombudsman for the CBC took the managing editor of Canada’s state-funded television network to task for reporting that it was “false” that Freeland’s grandfather edited an antisemitic Nazi newspaper. David Pugliese, a writer for the Ottawa Citizen, outlined some of the evidence in a March 2017 column.

The CBC ombudsman and Pugliese were among the few media exceptions.

Freeland, who strongly supports Ukraine and a major critic of Russia’s seizure of the Crimea, maintained her maternal grandparents were “political exiles” with the responsibility to “keep alive the ideal of an independent Ukraine.” Freeland claimed she was the victim of a Russian disinformation campaign intended to undermine Western Democracies and those who supported them.

Most of the Canadian accepted Freeland’s Russian conspiracy argument. Paula Simons, a former Edmonton Journal columnist and a Trudeau appointed Senator (a plum job where you literally get paid to do nothing), argued the accusations against Freeland were “a sign that Russia has now interfered in our affairs.”

(Full Disclosure: The former CEO of Michigan’s Beaumont Health in 2020 suggested I have secret Russian connections and taking payments from secret sources. My response can be found here.)

Here’s the evidence that Freeland doesn’t have any remorse about her grandfather’s activities but is rather proud of them.

On August 26, 2016, a year before Freeland’s family past became nationally known, she tweeted a loving tribute to her maternal grandparents on Black Ribbon Day, a European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. “They were forever grateful to Canada for giving them refuge and they worked hard to bring freedom and democracy to Ukraine,” Freeland wrote. “I am proud to honour their memory today #BlackRibbonDay.” 

As explained by Jeremy Appel in Progress Report, a publication that describes itself as a “proudly left-wing media project,” Black Ribbon Day was established in Canada by Markus Hess, a Canadian of German-Estonian heritage, and was financed by the right-wing National Citizens Coalition, a Canadian lobbying group that opposes public health insurance. Hess was photographed in Munich with Slava Statsko, a prominent member of the far-right Banderist movement, in front of a bust of Roman Shukhevych, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, similar to the one that stood outside the Edmonton’s Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex.

I couldn’t confirm the statue is still there. According to The Forward, monuments honoring fascists, Nazis, and murderers of Jews are pervasive throughout the world, including the Ukrainian Veterans’ Memorial in Edmonton honoring the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and SS Galichina. Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a military formation of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), massacred thousands of Jews and 70,000–100,000 Poles.

Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, the province where Freeland grew up.

“(Freeland’s) grandfather definitely wasn’t a victim of Nazism,” Appel argued.  “One could infer from (Freeland’s Black Ribbon) tweet that her grandfather was a victim of totalitarianism, rather than a Nazi collaborator. By serving the Nazis, was he really bringing freedom and democracy to Ukraine? Ukrainian Jews might disagree.”

Sheldon Kirschner

Sheldon Kirschner, a former Canadian Jewish News reporter and the son of Holocaust survivors from Poland, and others have argued that Freeland’s successful attempts to dismiss her grandfather’s Nazi past as a Russian disinformation campaign is why it remained relevant.

“If (Freeland) had been a person of integrity, a mensch, she would have called a press conference and acknowledged her grandfather’s unsavoury relationship with the Nazis and the implicit role he played in the Holocaust. That would have been that. End of story,” Kirschner wrote on his blog.

“Instead, she obfuscated the issue by insinuating that stories about Chomiak’s past were nothing more than a Russian attempt to undermine the West by means of false news.

“Shame on you, Chrystia Freeland. And shame on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for having silently backed Freeland’s ruse.”

Babi Yar massacre celebrated by Freeland’s grandfather/Kirshner blog

Kirshner also was critical of Canada’s Jewish leadership.

“Canadian Jewish organizations, for reasons which have yet to be explained, chose to remain deafeningly silent as the Freeland affair unfolded,” Kirschner wrote. “These organizations were complicit in Freeland’s transparent ploy to render the story meaningless and irrelevant. Who can take them seriously after this?”

It’s understandable why the Canadian media would give Freeland a pass. The Rhodes Scholar and Harvard grad was formerly a top editor at the Globe and Mail and The Financial Times, and worked and freelanced for other prestigious publications.

For his part, Trudeau has dismissed the Canadian protesters and those who support them as a fringe group of Nazi and racist sympathizers. That included Melissa Lantsman, the first Jewish member of Canada’s Conservative Party and a descendant of Holocaust survivors.

If Trudeau is genuinely concerned about those who sympathize with swastikas and are looking to undermine Democracy, he should consider looking on his side of Parliament.

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