PM Trudeau cheers 'historic' number of women elected in USA midterms

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The Jewish passengers returned to Europe where many were condemned to concentration camps, with 254 killed during the Holocaust.

"Today, I rise in this House to issue a long overdue apology to the Jewish refugees Canada turned away", he said. "Today, I issue an official apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to the passengers of the MS St. Louis and their families for this injustice", he said in both English and French.

"We all must, as individuals, communities and as a nation, help these people in every way we can", she said.

"That's obviously good news", Trudeau said to reporters on his way into the weekly Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill. "We failed them, for that we are sorry".

In the run-up to World War II and the ensuing Holocaust, the Canadian government heeded anti-Semitic sentiment and severely restricted Jewish immigration.

Facing pressure from advisors, and a petition with more than 130,000 names opposed to letting refugees in, Prime Minister Mackenzie King turned down the request.

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When the possibility of an apology for the M.S. St. Louis surfaced, some members of the Jewish community expressed concern that a decades-late apology for the ship would be too little, too late.

"We certainly hope it is a catalyst for a greater discussion about contemporary anti-Semitism and what can be done by all of us - regardless of our background - and particularly what can be done on the part of government and elected officials to fight anti-Semitism", Steve McDonald, the director of policy with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said last week. But it is our collective responsibility to acknowledge this hard truth, learn from this story, and continue to fight against antisemitism every day, as we give meaning to the solemn vow: "'Never again'".

"We were surrounded by a group of thugs who said, 'Jews are not allowed here, get out.' And we ran and they caught up and they beat us up and they stole our money and they left us in a pool of blood".

"We also apologize to others who paid the price of our inaction who we doomed to the ultimate horror of the death camps", he added.

"In 1939, Canada turned its back on 907 Jewish refugees, deeming them unworthy of a home, and undeserving of our help".

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