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Feds rework apology for Holocaust incident

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OTTAWA—The killings of 11 worshippers inside a Pittsburgh synagogue on the weekend has reframed the prime minister's plan for an apology on Canada's decision to close its doors to Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to deliver the apology next week for a federal decision in 1939 to reject an asylum request from more than 900 German Jews aboard an ocean liner that was nearing Halifax.

Five survivors from the boat, the MS St. Louis, are scheduled to be in the House of Commons next week to hear an apology 79 years in the making.

But the deaths of the 11 Jews and wounding of others at the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday has affected the text of the apology.

The Prime Minister's Office says the apology will reflect what happened on the weekend as part of what is expected to be a wider message about anti-Semitism and racism.

Jewish leaders say many Canadian Jews will reject Trudeau's apology if it focuses too much on the past and not enough on the present and future.

The most recent figures on hate crime from Statistics Canada show the Jewish population was the most frequent target of religiously-motivated hate crimes in 2016.

“It is not enough to apologize for the past. There must be a pathway forward to deal with these incidents of anti-Semitism,” said Michael Mostyn, chief executive of B'nai Brith Canada.

Trudeau set the date for the Nov. 7 apology weeks ago. Then came the mass killing in Pittsburgh—an act of violence that has shocked many Canadian Jews and sparked country-wide vigils.

In a letter to community leaders sent on the weekend, Trudeau wrote about speaking out against anti-Semitism and said he would “call on Canadians to do the same”—hinting at what might be a theme in his coming apology.

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