ERNA PARIS is the author of seven acclaimed works of literary non-fiction and the winner of twelve national and international writing awards for her books, feature writing, and radio documentaries. Her works have been published in fourteen countries and translated into eight languages. Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History was chosen as one of “The Hundred Most Important Books Ever Written in Canada” by the Literary Review of Canada. In May 2007 Long Shadows inspired the Canadian House of Commons motion to apologize, on behalf of the government, to survivors of Canadian residential schools. In June 2002 it inspired a resolution in the United States House of Representatives to create a monument to American slaves on the Washington Mall. (For more information, please see Awards and Honours.)


The Sun Climbs Slow: The International Criminal Court and the Struggle for Justice was first on The Globe and Mail's “best book of the year” list and shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.


Her most recent book is From Tolerance to Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain.


Erna is a member of the Honorary Council of the Canadian Centre for International Justice; a member of the Canada Committee of Human Rights Watch; an executive member of the World Federalist Movement-Canada; a vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; and a past chair of the Writers' Union of Canada. Erna is a frequent contributor to the opinion page of the Globe and Mail. In 2012, she was awarded the World Federalist Movement – Canada World Peace Award. In 2015 she was appointed to the Order of Canada.


Friday January 4, 2018, The Globe and Mail

Eugene Ionesco’s comic play, Amédée, featuring a “corpse” in a closet that extends grotesque members during an urbane dinner party, was almost certainly intended to spoof the blindness of the French to their wartime collaboration with the Nazis; but the playwright’s metaphor can be extended to other willful hidings, including one now facing the government of Canada.

Canada’s unexamined role in transferring captured Afghans to notorious prisons where they were certain to be tortured is another stubborn entity that keeps popping out of the cupboard. Both former prime minister Stephen Harper and current PM Justin Trudeau have tried to ignore the unwelcome visitor, but it will not be snubbed. [more]

Tuesday November 7, 2017, The Globe and Mail

Will Trumpism come to Canada? When asked over the past year, I’ve said no. Canadian respect for diversity, an economy that has stayed afloat and our reputed politeness have made such an evolution improbable – at least in the near term.

That’s still true, but we’re seeing ground-level challenges.

Yes, Ezra Levant’s hateful website, The Rebel, fell into disrepute after its coverage of the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August. Yes, the federal NDP has elected a Sikh man as its leader. And yes, the recent outing of men with a history of predation may actually kick-start change to the oldest status quo in history: the demeaning of uppity women who think they’re equal. [more]

Wednesday September 13, 2017,
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

The Faculty Club
Faculty Club, 41 Willcocks St, Toronto, ON M5S 1C7

Contact: Senior College

Multiculturalism is Canada’s greatest strength in these early years of the 21st century. It is the reason we have not fallen prey (so far) to the populist movements afflicting other pluralist nations. But we cannot take social peace for granted. Erna Paris will be speaking about the reasons for Canada’s success to date and also about the success and failure of an earlier multiethnic society, from which we have much to learn.

Programs are free for Fellows of Senior College, but RSVP is required. Members of Senior College who are not Fellows and visitors are asked to donate $10.00 to help defray costs.

Please complete the registration form for the talk on September 13, 2017

Monday July 31, 2017, The Globe and Mail

Last month, Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, presented the tribunal’s 25th report on Darfur to the United Nations Security Council. Goodbye to the tea and crumpets of diplomatic niceties. Ms. Bensouda was angry. The council had referred the situation in Darfur to her office in March, 2005. Subsequent investigations had led to arrest warrants, most notably for Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, in 2009 and 2010 for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. To date, not one of the suspects had been arrested.

The prosecutor charged the Security Council with conspicuous silence over Sudan’s non-compliance with the council’s resolutions and for its failure to confront the growing number of countries refusing to arrest indicted war criminals. [more]

Wednesday July 12, 2017, The Globe and Mail

It appears we can become accustomed to anything, provided it’s repeated often enough. What may have appalled us last year, or the year before, eventually loses its edge and is rendered normal. Think of the way highway speeding ratchets up as drivers accelerate to maintain the faster flow of traffic.

Something similar happens with language. Words accelerate. Without thoughtful restraint, they are like speeding cars, prone to accident. [more]

Will a populist anti-immigration agenda come to Canada?

Join Erna Paris and a renowned panel of speakers at this London, Ontario event. Monday, May 29th, 2017 Doors open at 6:00p.m. (6:30pm pre-event concert). For more information, visit Wolf Hall Debates The question on the floor: Will a populist, anti-immigration agenda come to Ottawa in 2019? Probably yes? or, Probably no? As we’ve seen […]

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For France, Macron’s victory is a reprieve only

Monday, May 8, 2017, The Globe and Mail A heavy sigh of relief could be heard in Brussels and across most Western capitals on Sunday after Emmanuel Macron won France’s second round of voting. Had his opponent Marine Le Pen become France’s next president, the beleaguered European Union might have taken a fatal nosedive into […]

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Countries that forget history become easy prey for demagogues

Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, The Globe and Mail ‘Be prepared, that’s the Boy Scouts’ marching song …” That’s how singer Tom Lehrer began one of his satirical ditties in a more innocent time. Mr. Lehrer’s borderline naughtiness appealed to the adolescents of my generation; now, as the world teeters on the edge of transition, his […]

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Fragility and discontent: We can only hope history isn’t repeating itself

Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, The Globe and Mail Words matter. That’s how the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum responded after a curious meeting in Washington last week. “The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words,” the museum said in a statement Monday after a white supremacist conference was held days earlier, just […]

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International Criminal Court: A fight that Canada must lead

Wednesday November 9, 2016, The Globe and Mail Is Canada back? That’s what the government of Justin Trudeau has been telling us. If so, an opportunity to demonstrate this claim has just landed in its lap. Canada practically created the International Criminal Court – and the court is in trouble. The ICC is the world’s […]

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The F.E.L. Priestley Lecture Series presents Erna Paris

University of Lethbridge Thursday, October 27, 2016 7:30pm – 9:30pm Location: PE250 “Why Multiculturalism Matters” Multiculturalism can no longer be seen as a feel-good political program to keep minority populations happy. On the contrary, the rights and social attitudes that underpin policies of multiculturalism have become the foundation of peaceful co-existence in ethnically mixed democracies. […]

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Canadians must never take multiculturalism for granted

Thursday July 7, The Globe and Mail It may be un-Canadian to boast, but in the wake of Brexit, rising European xenophobia and the bellowing of Donald Trump, Canada looks like an island of stability. In historical terms, most Canadians are immigrants, meaning that our leaders have had to nation-build with nuance and compromise. Because […]

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Obama’s Hiroshima visit: A compromise with history

Wednesday, May 25, 2016, The Globe and Mail If you have read John Hersey’s classic book Hiroshima, you may recall the sights that will confront President Barack Obama on Friday when he enters the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. There he will see a life-sized display of a wounded family staggering toward the Ota River. Their […]

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Should Canada close its doors to controversial French comic?

Friday May 6, 2016, The Globe and Mail The controversial French comedian Dieudonné is booked to perform 10 shows in a small Montreal gallery starting next week – if he’s allowed into the country. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has called him persona non grata. Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has pointed out that discriminatory speech […]

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To have meaning, ‘genocide’ must be protected from political exploitation

Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2016, The Globe and Mail “The crime of crimes” just entered the frenzy of U.S. politics. Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the actions of the Islamic State against Christians and other minority groups in Syria and Iraq constitute an act of genocide. This highest-level designation was long […]

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Order of Canada

“To be recognized by one’s country… I am overcome with gratitude.” Erna Paris, December 30, 2015 Erna has been appointed to the Order of Canada. The citation reads: “Erna Paris is one of Canada’s leading human rights commentators and activists.  An award-winning journalist and author, she has never hesitated to address sensitive issues in order […]

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Will we overcome fear-driven leaders in 2016?

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, The Globe and Mail Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/… And what rough beast, its hour come at last/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? – Yeats, The Second Coming As Christmas approaches, these words, written in 1919 by W.B. Yeats occupy my mind. Within a few years, the first incarnation […]

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Muslims in France: a cautionary tale

Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, The Globe and Mail Many are searching for reasons for last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Was it a failure of French intelligence? Faulty border controls? Possibly both. But there’s a deeper issue that Western countries would be wise to consider. Since the end of the Algerian colonial war in 1962, […]

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Finding the facts of the MSF bombing

Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, The Globe and Mail The pictures are shocking. A hospital engulfed in flames, helpless patients and staff trapped inside. A mangled bed upended against what remains of a destroyed wall. This was the aftermath of the U.S.-led aerial bombing of a Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, […]

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Erna Paris: Canada is not immune to the most dangerous tactic in politics

October 26, 2015, Ottawa Citizen There’s a new narrative at play in post-election Canada. The past was dim, but the future is bright. We were worn down after a decade of authoritarian one-man rule and we voted for sunny change. We also defied the worst of identity politics, we tell ourselves. We collectively rejected Stephen […]

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The UN, Syria and a Crisis in Confidence

Thursday, September 10, 2015, The Globe and Mail “The United Nations should help,” said the Syrian refugee who had walked for hundreds of kilometres, only to be obstructed by police in Hungary. What do we say to this man about our apparent impotence in the face of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad? What do we say […]

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A wanted man, a defiant African Union

Wednesday, June 17, 2015, The Globe and Mail Move over John Le Carré. Your fanciful heroes can’t compete with real-world escapees from justice. On Monday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, twice indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in the ethnic cleansing of 300,000 of his country’s non-Arab citizens and the displacement of millions of […]

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Know the truth, make amends

Friday, June 05, 2015, The Globe and Mail On May 1, 2007, Gary Merasty, then the Liberal MP for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, stood in the House of Commons to move that the government of Canada apologize to aboriginal peoples for the decades of mistreatment their children had experienced. On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper […]

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The Last Auschwitz Trial: A Link in the Chain of Genocide

Tuesday, Apr. 28 2015, Globe and Mail A frail, anxious-looking man of 93 sits in a German courtroom – minus his SS uniform. Oskar Groening is charged with complicity in the murder of 300,000 Jews in the Auschwitz death camp during the spring of 1942. His specific job was to rifle through the belongings of […]

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10 Books With Global Themes to Read This Spring

From Tolerance to Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain explores the consequences of anti-minority politics, such as we are seeing in many places today, including Canada. View the complete list

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Long Shadows e-book, 2015

Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History is now available as an e-book. Indigo/Chapters Kobo

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From Tolerance To Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain, Cormorant Books Available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle, Kobo and the iBooks store. Erna is happy to announce the publication of From Tolerance to Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain, an updated edition of her 1995 best-selling, award-winning book, The End of Days. […]

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Excerpt: From Tolerance to Tyranny

The following excerpt was published in the Ottawa Citizen January 20, 2015. The most elusive question about tyranny is this: How are ordinary people persuaded to comply passively with injustice, or to take the next step and actively turn on neighbours with whom they may have lived in peace for decades, or even centuries? A […]

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A Language that Conceals

Kazuo Ishiguro, author of Remains of the Day, points to Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History as an influence on his new novel, The Buried Giant. An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro

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Erna Paris on IDEAS

Wednesday, January 21, 2015, CBC Radio 1, 9:00 P.M. FROM TOLERANCE TO TYRANNY Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together in relative harmony in medieval Spain. Then the Spanish Inquisition came along with its use of terror and racism, turning a pluralistic society into a police state. Writer Erna Paris first explored this history for IDEAS […]

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Erna comments on free speech, CBC World News

Charlie Hebdo: Why the West has ‘fallen out of faith’ with free speech European countries have increasingly tightened restrictions on speech By Andre Mayer, Jan 15, 2015, CBC News In the week since Islamic radicals killed 12 people at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, there have been solidarity marches, vocal commitments to […]

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Abbas’s Latest Legal Move Reframes the Conflict with Israel

Friday, January 9, 2015, The Globe and Mail On the volatile chess board of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas may yet capture the king. By successfully initiating Palestine’s ratification of the Rome Statute, the legal document that underlies the International Criminal Court, he has reframed the “war,” leaving his antagonists – Israel and […]

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