Alternative Shabes Potluck
The Jewish Left in Canada and WWll: From Outlaws Behind Bars
to the Front Lines
A Talk with Ellin Bessner
Friday November 8, 2019
6:30 p.m. — $5 or PWYC
Winchevsky Centre — 585 Cranbrooke Avenue
While Canada’s 17,000 Jewish fighters who served in the Second World War faced great personal risk should they be captured by the Nazis and identified as Jewish, a small group from Canada’s labour movement and the Left first had to fight the Canadian government. After the outbreak of the war in 1939, Canada outlawed Communist newspapers and jailed many of those affiliated with the movement, including anti-Fascists like Dick Steele and Bill Walsh, the Binders, Muni Erlich, and more. It took years until the government relented and freed these detainees, allowed them to enlist and head overseas to help the Canadian war effort. Yet even there, they were still suspected of disloyalty. It is a fascinating story that has never been told before so comprehensively.
Journalist Ellin Bessner, the author of “Double Threat” visits the Winchevsky Centre to discuss how dozens of outlawed Jewish union leaders, Communists and the Jewish Left fought for Canada to help defeat Hitler in WWII, and rescue the survivors of the Holocaust. Books will be available for sale and signing at the event.
Ellin Bessner is a veteran Canadian journalist based in Toronto. Ellin was born in Montreal and graduated with a degree in journalism and political science from Carleton University. Her career as a journalist took her around Canada and around the world, working for CTV News and CBC News, and also stringing for the Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press and other organizations. As a foreign correspondent based in Rome, Italy, during the 1990s, aside from reporting on the Vatican, the Mafia, Italian food, fashion, and opera, and of course, on Italian soccer, Ellin also covered several brutal civil wars in Africa. She’s interviewed Prince Phillip and the Dalai Lama. She was a business anchor for many years at Report on Business Television, now BNN.