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 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 as a member of the Order of Canada.

 


, 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 resisted by the Obama administration, largely because the genocide label carries with it a customary obligation to take further action against the perpetrators. Since President Barack Obama will not be placing U.S. boots on the ground in Syria or Iraq (lessons learned from the failed Iraq war that spawned IS in the first place), this reality placed his administration in an ambiguous place before Mr. Kerry had even finished his historic speech. Genocide, the most serious offence within the category of crimes against humanity, concerns acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group; and under international law impeccable evidence is required to sustain the charge. While there is evidence that IS attacks on the Yazidis of Iraq might meet the criteria, Mr. Kerry’s assertion on behalf of the Christian population seemed more tenuous. [more]

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 to explore the roots of intolerance.  Her examination of the difficulty that nations have in confronting shameful historical episodes in Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History, inspired efforts at reconciliation with residential school survivors in this country and with the descendants of the victims of slavery in the United States.  She has also mentored many young writers and has consistently taken leadership roles in the literary and human rights communities.”

 

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 of the prescient “rough beast” came to power as Adolf Hitler, to be followed by Josef Stalin, then by the purveyors of hatred in Rwanda and Bosnia, whose racist bile culminated in genocide. The early 21st-century wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have spawned their own beast: Islamic State. [more]

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, France has failed to integrate its Muslim minority. Three generations born in France have led largely dead-end lives in bleak suburbs. Invisible to Parisians, they are a social underclass, ripe for exploitation. Although they are only about 8 per cent of the French population, Muslims represent 70 per cent of the prison population, where they come into contact with Islamist radicals. [more]

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, last month in which 30 people were killed and at least 37 injured. The internationally respected humanitarian organization has asked a bottom-line question of the United States, Afghanistan, and NATO – all of which played a role in the attack:

“Are we, or are we not, protected under the Geneva Conventions?” MSF international president Joanne Liu said in an open letter last week. “Did our hospital lose its protected status in the eyes of the military – and if so, why? Those responsible for requesting, ordering and approving the air strikes hold these answers.” [more]

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 Amazon.ca Kobo

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NEW PUBLICATION – JANUARY 2015

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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