MONTREAL — A federal judge in Quebec has apologized for remarks he made that Jews did not suffer when they died in Nazi gas chambers during World War II.
"I sincerely regret the pain caused by my comments…especially the pain caused to the survivors of the Holocaust," Superior Court Judge Jean Bienvenue said, reading from a prepared statement at a news conference after he met with Canadian Jewish Congress officials.
"As everyone recognizes, the horrors of the Holocaust are unparalleled in human history. Therefore, I recognize [that] the use of the Holocaust as an analogy was ill-advised," he said.
Jewish groups in Montreal had called for the judge's resignation based on comments he made about the Holocaust when sentencing a woman for second-degree murder.
The 35-year-old woman was convicted of fatally slitting her estranged husband's throat with a razor blade in July 1994.
"At Auschwitz-Birkenau, which I once visited in horror, even the Nazis did not eliminate millions of Jews in a painful and bloody manner; they died in gas chambers without suffering," Bienvenue said.
Prior to issuing his public apology, Bienvenue met with six Jewish community leaders, including Holocaust survivor Stephen Bleyer, 65, who told the judge of his wartime experiences.
Rabbi Reuben Poupko, president of the Rabbinical Council of Montreal, said he was satisfied with the judge's apology, adding that Bienvenue acted "with sincerity and a full heart of regret."
Others, however, were not so forgiving.
Federal Justice Minister Allan Rock is pondering whether to launch a public inquiry into the matter, a move that could result in Bienvenue's removal from the bench.