None Is Too Many

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None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933–1948 is a book co-authored by the Canadian historians Irving Abella and Harold Troper and published in 1983 about Canada's restrictive immigration policy towards Jewish refugees during the Holocaust years. The book helped popularize the phrase "none is too many" in Canada.


First published in 1983 by Lester & Orpen Dennys, and reissued in 2012 by University of Toronto Press, the book documents the history of the Canadian response to Jewish refugees from 1933, with the rise of the Nazi government in Germany, until 1948. The authors argue that while many nations were complicit in the Holocaust for their refusal to admit Jewish refugees during the Nazi era, the Canadian government did less than other Western countries to help Jewish refugees between 1933 and 1948. The most infamous example of Canada's immigration policy was the refusal to admit the MS St. Louis, a German ocean liner carrying refugees.[1] Only 5,000 Jewish refugees entered Canada from 1933 until 1945, which the book argues was the worst of any refugee receiving nation in the world.[1] This response was possible in part because of Canada's history of Antisemitism.

The authors identify Frederick Blair, the head of immigration in William Lyon Mackenzie King's government, as a top official who opposed and limited Jewish immigration. They say that Blair's policy had the full support of Mackenzie King, who was prime minister 1935–48, Vincent Massey, the high commissioner to Britain,[2] and both Anglophone and Francophone elites in general.

"None is too many"[edit]

The title is based on an incident recounted in the book. Early in 1939 an unidentified immigration agent was asked how many Jews would be allowed in Canada after the war. He replied, "None is too many". The phrase has since entered common parlance in Canada.[3] In 2011, a monument, referred to in the media as the "none is too many" memorial, was displayed in Halifax's Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to commemorate the MS St. Louis.[4] In 2015, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was criticized by some Jewish groups after he used the phrase to criticize the Conservative government's immigration policy for Muslims.[5][6]


The book is periodically referenced in debates on immigration policy in Canada. Co-author Irving Abella writes that "it has become an ethical yardstick against which contemporaneous government policies are gauged".[7] In 1979, Canada's deputy minister of immigration reportedly handed a copy of the book to immigration minister Ron Atkey, saying "this should not be you". Atkey then advocate for the admission of more Vietnamese refugees to Canada. "He drew the parallels to our attention, was moved by it himself and we all were", prime minister Joe Clark recalled.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Abella, Irving; Troper, Harold Martin (2012-01-01). None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442614079.
  2. ^ "How Canada's mighty have fallen". Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  3. ^ "'None is too many': Memorial for Jews turned away from Canada in 1939". National Post. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  4. ^ Smith, Joanna (2014-11-17). "A monument commemorating the Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis, which Canada turned away in 1939, will no longer be housed at the Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  5. ^ "Jewish group says Trudeau made 'unfortunate' comparison in speech". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  6. ^ "Trudeau slams Tories for terror rhetoric". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  7. ^ Abella, Irving (11 May 2018). "Canada still has much to learn from None is Too Many". The Globe and Mail.
  8. ^ Fine, Sean (4 September 2015). "Historic Canadian resettlement of Vietnamese sets precedent for action". The Globe and Mail.

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