Most of the passengers scattered across the continent and more than 250 of them died in the Holocaust. He called on Canadians to stand up against those "xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes".
The prevalence of anti-Semitism in contemporary society showed itself nearly two weeks ago when a gunman killed 11 worshippers inside a Pittsburgh synagogue simply because they were Jewish, Trudeau said.
Prior to the apology, Trudeau met with Ana Maria Gordon, who was a passenger on the St. Louis and who now lives in Canada. Trudeau said in Parliament Wednesday that officials at the time used Canadian laws to mask anti-Semitism. But it is our collective responsibility to acknowledge this hard truth, learn from this story, and continue to fight against antisemitism every day, as we give meaning to the solemn vow: "'Never again'".
"I think that would be a much more positive step for those generations coming after us", Goldberg said.
But coming in the wake of what may be the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, at a time when anti-Semitic memes and conspiracy theories are bursting into the populist mainstream, his remarks felt urgent.
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But anti-Semitism is not just a thing of the past in Canada as Trudeau said that some 17 percent of religious hate crimes victims in the country are against Jews.
"Holocaust deniers still exist". Critics say the figures are far too low while debate rages about "irregular" border crossers walking over from the United States.
"Today I rise in this House of Commons [Canadian parliament's lower chamber] to issue a long overdue apology to the Jewish refugees Canada turned away. Jewish institutions and neighborhoods are still being vandalized with swastikas".
They pleaded for help from the United States and Canada, but both countries refused to take the Jews, who were left with no choice but to return to Europe. Despite the repeated calls by the government's two Jewish caucus members. In November 1938, Nazi agitators attacked Jews and vandalized synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses, scattering broken glass that glittered in the streets like crystal.
"It was very important that the government made this statement and fulsome apology for the past", said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B'nai Brith Canada.