Justin Trudeau has worked hard to suppress the popular protests against government mandates, invoking broad emergency powers in a move that many lawmakers consider improper and even illegal. One of his allies in this was Chrystia Freeland, the current deputy prime minister of Canada. As minister of finance, Freeland is charged with employing financial measures against supporters of the protest that include targeting crowdfunding platforms, authorizing Canadian banks to freeze accounts suspected of funding the blockades, and suspending insurance on vehicles in the protests. While last week Trudeau accused Conservative supporters of the protests of “standing with people who wave swastikas”, it has since been revealed that his fiscal enforcer is the granddaughter of an actual Nazi collaborator.
Rumors have been circulating for several years that Freeland’s maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was a Ukrainian journalist with ties to the Nazis during World War II. This came to the forefront in 2014 when Freeland was exceptionally critical and called for international action against Russia for its invasion of Crimea. The Russian government sees Freeland as virulently anti-Russian and has placed her on their travel ban. Her family ties to the Nazis via Ukraine were noted in the media. Freeland denied the rumors, labeling them as Russian disinformation.
“American officials have publicly said, and even Angela Merkel has publicly said, that there were efforts on the Russian side to destabilize Western democracies, and I think it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada,” Freeland told reporters after they raised questions about the articles about her grandfather. The Globe and Mail also reported that an official in Freeland’s office denied the minister’s grandfather was a Nazi collaborator.
The rumors persisted and were eventually verified. The Ukraine Archival Records held by the Province of Alberta show that Chomiak was an editor for the newspaper Krakivski Visti initially in Krakow and later in Vienna and then Bavaria as the Allied and Russian forces advanced. The Russians executed Nazi collaborators well as SS members. Krakivski Visti was seized by the Nazis from their Jewish owners and then operated as Nazi propaganda outlet.
Editorials in the newspaper described Poland as “infected by the Jews.” After the mass murder of Jews in Kyiv at Babi Yar, the editors wrote that the Jews got their “comeuppance” and without the Jews, the city was “beautiful, glorious.”
It was in Bavaria that Chomiak surrendered to Americans and, three years later, immigrated to Canada to reunite with his sister.
The Los Angeles Holocaust Museum described the newspaper’s wartime operations:
“The editorial boards carried out a policy of soliciting Ukrainian support for the German cause,” the Holocaust Museum noted. “It was typical, within these publications, to not to give any accounts of the German genocidal policy, and largely, the editions resorted to silencing the mass killing of Jews in Galicia. Ukrainian newspapers presented the Jewish Question in light of the official Nazi propaganda, corollary to the Jewish world conspiracy.”
In fact, it later came to light that Freeland has known of her grandfather’s Nazi ties since at least 1996 when she helped edit a scholarly article for the Journal of Ukrainian Studies.
While hiding the truth of his activities, Freeland was unabashedly proud of him. On 24 of August 2016, a day after Black Ribbon Day, commemorating victims of both Stalinism and Nazism, Freeland Tweeted the following: “Thinking of my grandparents Mykhailo & Aleksandra Chomiak on Black Ribbon Day. They were forever grateful to Canada for giving them refuge and they worked hard to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine. I am proud to honour their memory today.”