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; a member of the executive of the World Federalist Movement-Canada; a vice-president (2014) of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; and a past chair of the Writers' Union of Canada. In 2012, Erna was awarded the World Federalist Movement – Canada World Peace Award.


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 new arrivals to confiscate their money (they wouldn’t need it any longer, he later explained). And, and as one of the few Nazis still alive, his trial may be the last from that murderous era. [more]

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.
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LongSLong Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History is now available as an e-book.

TOLERANCE-magFrom 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. The story of how medieval Europe’s most vibrant multicultural society became its least tolerant, with an Inquisition to purify the faith and two ethnic expulsions, continues to resonate powerfully in the first decades of the 21st century.

View the slide show: From Tolerance to Tyranny

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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 devalued, marginalized minority seems to be the key, for exposed to a continuum of propaganda, decent human beings are transformed and desensitized.

Anti-minority propaganda labours to give birth to one and only one offspring: a population that is incrementally conditioned to accept the abuse of the excluded group. Such propaganda is not subtle; frequently it includes an attempt to depict the enemy as a blood-sucking, disease-infected, reeking metamorphosis of a despised animal or insect — in other words, as subhuman. These pointed metaphors permit decent people to reject the pariah from the community; they enable persecutors and passive onlookers to accept the unacceptable on grounds that the victim does not deserve or even need their compassion. [more]

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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