Mayor who blocked Jewish orphans honoured

Ottawa council unswayed by Holocaust survivor's objections

A committee of the city council in Canada’s capital has voted in favour of naming the city’s new archives and library after a former mayor who personally lobbied to keep 500 Jewish orphans out of Canada during the Second World War. Charlotte Whitton, the first female mayor of Ottawa—and of any major city in North America—served from 1951 to 1956, and again from 1960 to 1964. The current mayor, former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Jim Watson, pushed for her name to be on the new archives. But according to the 1982 book by Irving Abella and Harold Troper, None is Too Many, Whitton lobbied against a proposal to allow Eastern European orphans, most of whom where Jewish, into Canada in the late 1930s, even though other groups were in favour. Holocaust survivor Vera Gara credited Whitton’s other achievements, but said: “Whether she knew it or not, those children were gassed at Auschwitz…. and that’s why we don’t want her name” on the new building. “Our view is that these were not just comments, but actions,” said Eric Vernon of the Canadian Jewish Congress. “She worked hard to make sure the doors were shut to these children … and that led directly to the death of these orphans.”

Ottawa City

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