Friday, November 28, 2008

Wonder what his lawyer thinks?

Ahenakew Still Blames Jews For World War, Hates ‘What they do’
Betty Ann Adam

Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008

Related Topics
Culture and Lifestyle
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations
Adolf Hitler
David Ahenakew

Greg Pender
Canwest News Service
Controversial Native Leader David Ahenakew

SASKATOON -- Former First Nations leader David Ahenakew insists he's not an anti-Semite, telling his hate crime trial on Thursday he doesn't "hate the Jews but I hate what they do" -- and he still believes Jews started the Second World War.

But although he testified he "never" would have used the words he did had he planned out a 2002 speech in which he blames the Jews for the Second World War, he hasn't changed his mind.

I didn't mean to bring the Jews into this thing. It just happened," he testified about the speech.

Ahenakew, testifying Thursday in his retrial on a charge of inciting hatred, attempted to explain that, while making a speech at a Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Health Conference on December 13, 2002, he was trying to express his outrage about the erosion of health-treaty rights and wanted to emphasize the point with an example.

In a wide-ranging, profanity-laced, speech at the conference, Mr. Ahenakew expressed anger at the federal government for off-loading treaty issues to the provincial government. He also deviated briefly from his main topic to talk about how, when he was in the army as a young man, he was stationed in Germany.

"Germans used to tell me . . . ‘You guys are blessed. From what we know about the Indians in Canada, they are blessed. But your blessing is being destroyed by your immigrants, especially the Jews,' they say. The Second World War was created by the Jews."

Mr. Ahenakew said Thursday he didn't think before using the Germans and Jews as an example in the speech.

Mr. Ahenakew is charged in connection with a December 13, 2002, interview with former Saskatoon StarPhoenix reporter James Parker, in which Mr. Ahenakew said Hitler was "trying to clean up the world" when he "fried" six million Jews.

While making his speech at the conference, Mr. Ahenakew told the assembled crowd that Jews started the Second World War. Mr. Parker subsequently interviewed Mr. Ahenakew, at which point Mr. Ahenakew made the other controversial comments.

Mr. Ahenakew was found guilty in 2005, but the conviction was set aside on appeal and a new trial was ordered.

In earlier testimony, Mr. Ahenakew said that, on the morning of his 2002 speech, he felt uncharacteristically nervous before he spoke. He said he does not usually use profanity, but used it that day to emphasize his points.

He also touched on a wide array of topics, from his time with the Canadian military to his Order of Canada award to his and his wife's poor health.

Mr. Ahenakew also talked about being stationed as a peacekeeper on the Gaza Strip between Palestine and Israel. He said Israelis repeatedly removed the fences that marked off landmines and people were killed when straying into the area. "It was not only cruel, it was a murderous act," he testified.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Ahenakew's daughter said Mr. Parker did not hold a tape recorder during the 2002 interview, which she observed from a table about 11 metres away.

Shirley Bighead said she never told her father's lawyer at the time of Mr. Ahenakew's previous trial about her observation, because she felt guilty for not having ended the interview between Messrs. Parker and Ahenakew.
Ms. Bighead said she's had nightmares for the last six years because the incident destroyed her father's reputation and ability to make a living, and has overshadowed all the work he did fighting for First Nations rights.

"It's one of the biggest regrets of my life that I did not go up and stop it," Ms. Bighead said.

Ms. Bighead said the conversation wasn't "of great significance" to her at first, because many people have had discussions with her father, Bighead testified. She didn't know the significance of the conversation until the next day, when it was "splashed over the papers."

Neither defence lawyer Doug Christie nor Crown prosecutor Sandeep Bains asked Ms. Bighead on Thursday how a recording of the interview could exist, if Mr. Parker hadn't been holding a recorder.

Saskatoon StarPhoenix


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