Italian-Canadians to get formal apology for treatment during Second World War

·1 min read

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will issue a formal apology next month for the treatment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, 600 Italian-Canadian men were interned in camps in Canada after Italy allied with Germany and joined the war in 1940.

Some 31,000 other Italian-Canadians were declared enemy aliens.

Trudeau told the House of Commons Wednesday that his government "will right these wrongs" by issuing a formal apology in May.

In 1988, Canada formally apologized and offered $300 million in compensation to Japanese-Canadians, 22,000 of whom were interned in camps during the Second World War.

Trudeau did not say whether there will be compensation for Italian-Canadians.

He announced plans for the apology in response to a question Wednesday from Liberal MP Angelo Iacono.

"They were interned for the simple reason that they were of Italian origin," Iacono told the Commons.

"Lives and careers, businesses and reputations were interrupted and ruined and yet no one was held accountable. Italian-Canadians have lived with these memories for many years and they deserve closure."

Trudeau said Canadians of Italian heritage "deal with ongoing discrimination related to mistakes made by our governments of the past that continue to affect them to this day."

"I'm proud to stand up and say that our government will right these wrongs with a formal apology in the month of May."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press