Toronto

Unifor union rep found trying to sell Nazi memorabilia online

A Unifor union representative was attempting to sell what appears to be Second World War Nazi memorabilia on Facebook marketplace Friday.

Holocaust Studies group says sale of such items should be illegal in Canada

This medal is one of the items that Unifor Council 4000 Regional Representative Wesley Gajda was attempting to sell on Facebook Friday. (Wesley Gajda/Facebook)

A Unifor union representative was attempting to sell what appears to be Second World War Nazi memorabilia on Facebook marketplace Friday.

Wesley Gajda, who is listed in a press release from 2018 as a Unifor Council 4000 Regional Representative, posted a statue and a medal that are both emblazoned with swastikas for sale in the Halton Hills area, near Toronto.

Gajda listed the items for sale for $300.

"I found both items in the late 70s in Europe never had any use for it and it's time to get items out of my house," he wrote in the post, in which he listed the condition as "good" and the brand as "Adolf Hitler."

Gajda did not respond to a Facebook message asking for comment about the items.

When reached by phone at his office, Gajda called a reporter a "loser," launched into a profanity-laced tirade, and said, "Stop harassing me."

"It's a free country," he said, before hanging up.

The listing has since been deleted.

Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the national president for Unifor, told CBC News the union finds Gajda's conduct "very disturbing."

"We obviously do not condone this type of behaviour," Doherty said, adding that the union will "do [its] due diligence" on the matter.

Gajda "certainly could" face discipline, he said.

Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of the campaign against anti-Semitism at The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, says the sale of items like these that Gajda was trying to sell should be illegal in Canada. (Wesley Gajda/Facebook)

The union's website says Unifor National Council 4000 represents some 4,500 members from a variety of sectors, like rail and road transportation, as well as the hospitality sector.

A photo on Gajda's Facebook page includes a plaque that lists him as a Unifor "founding member."

Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of the campaign against anti-Semitism at The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, told CBC News Friday that possessing and selling items like these is an insult to Canada's veterans, Jewish people and a host of other communities.

"Our position is that it's disgusting and unacceptable for people to be buying and selling what are the relics of a genocide," she said.

University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon previously told CBC News that while the sale of Nazi products is concerning, it isn't illegal in Canada.

He says it doesn't fall under the Criminal Code's definition of a hate crime.

"It's actually not an easy process to commence the Criminal Code prohibition on hate speech," he said.

However, Moon said that doesn't mean there can't be a law put in place banning the sale of items symbolizing hate in Canada.

"I think in the current climate there might be greater support for restrictions of this kind," he said.

Kirzner-Roberts said her organization regularly sees items like these for sale in Canada. In many cases, they come from estate sales, she said, adding that the only place they truly belong is in universities and museums as a tool for people to learn about the horrors of the Second World War.

"We do believe that it should be illegal in Canada to sell such items," she said. "It is illegal in many countries."

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now