Internment of Persons of Ukrainian Origin Recognition Act

An Act to acknowledge that persons of Ukrainian origin were interned in Canada during the First World War and to provide for recognition of this event

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

Sponsor

Inky Mark  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

March 27th, 2007 / 9:05 a.m.
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Faytene Kryskow Director, Motivated Young People for a Strong Canada

Good morning, members, and thank you for your service to the nation on this extremely important committee. Your recommendations regarding Bill C-22 will impact future generations in Canada and in other nations that are looking to Canada for leadership on protecting children from sexual predators.

Last year, on the same day as a similar bill was voted on in Parliament, Bill C-331, Liberal member Pablo Rodriguez stated to the House that “a political party has a duty to listen and pay attention to what [youth] has to say.... They are in the best position to identify the problems and challenges facing them. ...when we in this House talk about building the Canada of tomorrow, we are talking about their future, and we ought to listen to them.”

With this wisdom in mind, I would like to let you know exactly who I represent. The recently incorporated MY Canada association already has a membership of multiple thousands of young people, primarily under the age of 30, with a few moms and dads in the mix. We served in several dozen campaigns in the last election, have mobilized hundreds of young people to meet their MPs, are observant CPAC junkies, and are committed to supporting, in practical ways, those members who will lay aside party politics to do good and sensible government. We span every province and territory and both nations in Canada. We are non-partisan, and yes, we vote.

Last summer, more than 12,000 Canadians—youths, young adults, and their parents and guardians—gathered on site at Parliament Hill and via webcast for a mass event called The Cry. We are told by political analysts that every person represents a thousand. If this is true, it's amazing to think that our first national gathering could very well represent 12 million Canadians.

Now that you know who we are, we want to point out that good and responsible government takes into account both the wishes and the well-being of its citizens. On this note, let me present to you feedback that comes both from our network and from average Canadian citizens, not special interest groups that are loaded with aggressive agendas.

In the last eight days, we posted a survey on our site regarding Bill C-22. We also canvassed the University of Ottawa and Carleton University to get a broader youth perspective than just that of our own network. In just eight days, we've had 931 surveys returned, with 94% saying they do not believe a 14-year-old has the maturity to choose an appropriate sexual partner; 92% saying they do not believe a 14-year-old would have the confidence to resist an adult who is pressuring or manipulating them to have sex against their will; and 90% saying they support Bill C-22 and believe the age of consent should be raised.

Some respondents who marked “No” on this last question did so because they believe it should be even higher. For example, they said they don't think it should be raised to 16 because they think it should be even higher, at 18. In some cases, it was even higher than that.

Many Canadians we talked to were both shocked and disturbed—never mind surprised—that the current age of consent is only 14. Consistently, we heard a plea from youths, who were in essence saying, please protect us.

Here are a few quotes from the youth comment section of our survey:

I am 15 years old going to 16 soon. I am older than everyone in my grade so we are just past the age of 14. I know for a fact that most of my grade is not mature enough to make a decision as big as this. I know I'm not mature even though I am told that I am very mature for my age. I don't want to see people getting hurt just because they can have sex—

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

November 23rd, 2005 / 7:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me dedicate my closing comments to Mary Manko Haskett, 97 years old and the last survivor of the internment.

Let me thank all the members who spoke in support of Bill C-331 this evening. I want to conclude by quoting three great Canadians of Ukrainian descent who appeared before the standing committee on October 25, 2005. I am sure that what members will hear will really reflect the position of the Ukrainian community across this country.

The first individual is Mr. Andrew Hladyshevsky, the president of the Canadian Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko. This is what he said before the committee:

This is truly a day of historic importance to over one million Canadians who have Ukrainian Canadian heritage. It is an astounding day for us. It's the kind of day when you watch what's happening with your throat because you're not sure exactly what the emotions will do to you by being here. Thank you for allowing us to present to you.

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, director of research, Ukrainain Canadian Civil Liberties Association, a professor of history at the Royal Military College in Kingston said to the standing committee:

There they were forced to do heavy labour for the profit of their jailers. What little wealth some of them had was confiscated, and a portion of it still remains in the federal treasury to this very day. They suffered restrictions on their freedom of movement, association, and free speech, and in 1917, even disenfranchisement.

Everything that was done to them took place not because of anything they had done but only because of who they were, where they had come from. No wonder, then, that Ukrainian Canadians were reported to still be “in fear of the barbed-wire fence” decades afterwards.

The last individual I will quote this evening is Mr. Paul Grod, the first vice-president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. This is what he said to the committee:

The reason we are here today, and the reason your time on this bill is so important today, is that this bill is part of the healing process. It is part of the acknowledgement and recognition that is so important to more than a million Ukrainian Canadians, and to the tens of millions of Canadians who know little to nothing about one of the greatest tragedies in Canadian history.

In closing, I ask that you seek unanimous consent of the House to have Bill C-331 carried at all stages.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

November 23rd, 2005 / 7:25 p.m.
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Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I too want to congratulate the member for his tremendous efforts.

As a country, we represent a coming together of many peoples and we have learned over time to respect and mutually accept each other. This is what sets Canada apart.

We have established a legal foundation, enshrined in our Constitution, that is aimed at ensuring Canadians are protected from racism and discrimination. We will continue to address these issues so that all Canadians have the opportunity to participate from their fullest potential. At the same time, we are working to strengthen the bonds of shared citizenship and to ensure the continuance of the strong and cohesive Canadian society that we have today.

The Government of Canada recognizes that there have been dark moments in the history of our country. We recognize that presenting our complete history, including those times when we have strayed from our shared commitment to human justice, and telling our stories is key to the understanding of who we are as Canadians.

Although legal at the time, the internment of Ukrainian Canadians and other Europeans during the first world war is one of those chapters about which Canadians are not proud. Our commitment as a government is to strengthen the fabric of Canada's multicultural society. We are committed to learning from the past and to acknowledging and commemorating the significant contributions to Canada made by the various ethno-racial and ethnocultural groups, including the Ukrainians.

The Department of Canadian Heritage and the cultural agencies of the Canadian Heritage portfolio have made considerable efforts to ensure the story of Ukrainians in Canada is known to all Canadians. Parks Canada works closely with national and local Ukrainian Canadian groups to develop interpretive exhibits in Banff National Park, Yoho National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park. These exhibits help visitors to understand the experiences, hardships and contributions of Ukrainian internees.

The Department of Canadian Heritage has also provided funding to Ukrainian Canadian organizations to assist in documenting the experience of Canadian Ukrainian internees and to underline the contribution of the Ukrainian community to our nation.

Since the 1890s, when waves of Ukrainians helped settle this vast land, Ukrainians have played an important role in Canada. There are an incredible number of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage who have made extraordinary contributions to Canada. They are, to name just a few: Wayne Gretzky, star of our national sport of hockey; Ed Werenich, a world champion in curling; in the cultural sphere, artist William Kurelek; violinist, Steven Staryk; in public life, Ray Hnatyshyn and Roy Romanow; and, Canada's first woman in space, Roberta Bondar.

To think of Ukrainian Canadians is also to recall Canada's war hero, Peter Dmytruk, who died for all of us on the battlefields of France in world war two.

As Canadians, we are proud to live in a country that recognizes the importance of diversity.

It is true that as a society, looking forward to the future can be difficult when troubling memories from Canada's past go unacknowledged. Budget 2005 also provides $25 million over the next three years for commemorative and educational initiatives that will highlight the contributions that Ukrainians and other ethnocultural groups have made to Canadian society and that will help build a better understanding of Canadians and of the strength of Canadian diversity.

With this funding, the government is responding to demands from the community in a way that respects both the concerns of the communities and the government's 1994 policy on this issue. Bill C-331 has been adapted to reflect this forward looking approach. On that basis, I encourage the hon. members in the House to vote in favour of Bill C-331 in its current form and to help celebrate the diversity of this great nation.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

November 23rd, 2005 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to rise in the House of Commons in a most historic moment. This is a moment when we are on the soon to be election trail, yet all sides of the House have agreed to the importance of Bill C-331.

I rise today to address this important and unfortunate chapter in Canadian history.

Bill C-331 is an act to recognize the injustice that was done to persons of Ukrainian descent who were interned at the time of the first world war. It will provide for public commemoration and for redress devoted to public education and the promotion of tolerance.

I would like to thank my colleague, the Conservative member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, for not only presenting the bill, but for holding the torch high for the people of Ukrainian descent to ensure redress became a reality and to right this historic wrong.

Today in the House of Commons I will concur with what the member across the way from Winnipeg North said. Tonight we need to ensure that the bill is passed, signed, sealed and delivered for the good of our Canadian history and for the good of the people of Ukrainian descent in our country.

Between 1914 and 1920 thousands of loyal Canadians were systematically arrested and interned in 24 camps throughout the country simply because of their national origin. This happened because at the outset of the first world war the western Ukraine was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and at that time Canada was at war with Austria-Hungary.

In the midst of wartime hysteria, people of Ukrainian descent were automatically connected to Austria-Hungary and were deemed to be a threat to our nation. This was a gross mistake that would prove to place a black mark on our Canadian history.

In actual fact, many of the Ukrainian Canadians fled their homeland and were refugees of Canada's wartime enemy, and were not enemies of Canada at all. They were loyal British subjects, allies of our wartime cause. In fact, many who were interned were born in Canada, but bore the wrong name.

When interned, men, women and children were forced to perform hard labour and live in their own homeland of Canada under very trying circumstances.

We cannot rewrite history. Nor can we change the fact that this injustice occurred. However, as heirs of our society we can acknowledge injustice and we can ensure that never again will this be allowed to happen on our Canadian soil.

Again, commend the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his perseverance, for holding his torch high to ensure that this injustice was corrected. To his great efforts, I commend my colleague for his perseverance and for him being able to witness tonight this historic event where all members on all sides of the House will join together to ensure that Bill C-331 is acclaimed.

Our modern history will mark its pages with the heroes of the Orange revolution in Ukraine. It is the recent history that will mark the people of Ukraine and the people of Ukrainian descent in Canada.

I spent my last Christmas in eastern Ukraine in Luhansk, helping with the election which was eventually won by Yuschenko. The beautiful countryside that spread out just 30 kilometres from the Russian border housed the courageous residents of Ukraine. These were people who wanted one thing. They wanted to be able to vote for the leader of their country and vote for whomever they wanted.

I grew to love the people and admire their hard work and dedication to their country. I was amazed when I walked the streets of Kiev and visited with the many people undergoing hardship, again to ensure they sent a message to their government that they wanted to be free to vote for whomever they chose.

The people of Ukraine became the heroes and the leaders of the world because they accomplished something no other nation had been able to achieve, the right to independence, the freedom to vote for whomever they wanted, without shedding one drop of blood.

The people of Ukraine have become my heroes because they are an example to the rest of the world. They are an example of the perseverance that we have seen from the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette. They are an example of the perseverance, the good heart and the hard work that it takes to make things happen.

Under the tents in Kiev, many people underwent hardship, but they had a vision for their country, the same as today where members on all sides of the House have a vision for this bill.

Today in the riding of Kildonan--St. Paul, leaders in Ukrainian communities such as Lesia Swaluk and Ostap Skrypnyk, do much to enhance and support the Ukrainian community, not only in my riding but in my province of Manitoba and throughout the world. They too are part of the courageous heritage that holds the banner high, a heritage that is an example not only to our nation but to the global community.

I support Bill C-311, the Ukrainian Canadian restitution act, and I am proud to do so. In these turbulent times in the House of Commons, we are able to come together for a common good, and that common good has a leader in the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette who has done much to ensure that the leadership had a very conciliatory genre to it, so in the end this could happen.

It is a miracle, as he said a little earlier, that there has been unanimous consent on all sides of the House to ensure that the bill is passed in the House of Commons and that the Ukrainian Canadian restitution act will give due respect and diligence to the people of Ukrainian descent who were put through so much trauma during the first world war.

This is a good thing tonight. We can all hold our heads high. This will mark the fact that many immigrants and many people who have come to Canada have made up the mosaic of our great nation.

It is with much pride that I have had the opportunity to speak to the bill. I congratulate all members of the House on its success.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

November 23rd, 2005 / 7 p.m.
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to join in this debate on a very important issue that has been neglected for many years.

I would like to thank the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his perseverance on this issue and for all those who are now prepared to join in and support the passage of the bill to enact this long overdue measure. That is the issue at hand.

Can we as a Parliament put aside our differences? Can we put aside our normal process to ensure that Bill C-331 is actually enacted today?

It must be today because of the amount of time and energy that has been spent on this issue of recognition for a very deplorable time in our history when Ukrainians in Canada were interned because they were under suspicion during World War I.

All of my colleagues in the NDP caucus support the bill. I want to talk today a bit about not only the urgency but the fact that Ukrainian Canadians have contributed so much to our country. Yet, there has been so little done to deal with some very grievous chapters in the history of this country.

One is the internment of Ukrainian Canadians. The other ties into an important anniversary that we just commemorated this past week, and that is the 70th anniversary of the genocide and famine experienced by Ukrainians during the time of Stalin.

Both issues have been before the House. Both issues deserve action and both issues have been waiting for something to be done. There were lots of promises made, lots of attempts to advance the agenda on this, but to date there has been so little progress.

We all recall, leading up to the last election, how this issue that the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette had brought to our attention was going to be addressed by the then Minister of Canadian Heritage. There were great expectations on the part of the Ukrainian community that this would have been carried out and that this chapter in our history would have been dealt with. Unfortunately, we know what happened. The commitment made by the minister at the time was not kept by the government of the day and in fact, we are still trying to resolve this egregious chapter in our history.

On the question of the famine, I want to acknowledge the work of the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette and others who have tried to get this resolved. We still have not had a proper recognition of that tragedy in our history. I want to mention that in Winnipeg, as the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette and others know, great work is being done to get this sorry chapter in our history recognized as part of the new museum on human rights that we hope will be opened in the Forks.

My colleagues from Windsor, the members for Windsor—Tecumseh and Windsor West, have both been a part of a project in their city in establishing the first ever monument to recognize this sorry chapter in our history, that being the famine and genocide during the Stalinist regime. That monument was unveiled in a prominent part of Windsor, in Jackson Park. That has given a focal point for Ukrainians in Canada.

However, we need to do more and we certainly want to see the government recognize all across the country how this awful period in our history came about, and how we have to commit ourselves to prevent genocide and acts of hatred in the future.

With respect to Bill C-331, clearly, it is about recognition for this period in our history, the internment of Ukrainian Canadians. It is also about beginning a period of negotiation and discussion around restitution and settlement. There needs to be some proper recognition for the pain and suffering of individuals during this period of time involving the compensation for confiscated property, and the loss of dignity and wealth that was never returned.

Let us not only recognize this travesty, this sorry chapter in our history, but let us also put our minds and hearts at work to ensure that there is some sort of restitution for this terrible time in our history.

I want to recognize the work of the Ukrainian community in Winnipeg. My colleague the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette has done that and has received a lot of support from the Ukrainian Canadian community.

In particular, I want to reference the work that has been done by those who have told the stories and continue to tell the stories across the country. I would like to read for the record one such story that has been circulated to all of us. It was written by Pierre Pawliw. He wrote:

During World War I, my mother, Stephania Mielniczuk, at the age of 3 years was taken along with her parents to the internment camp located at Spirit Lake, in the Abitibi region of Quebec. She never talked about this while I was growing up. In fact, I only learned about it from my aunt that I visited in Poland in 1984. When I asked my mother why she never mentioned it, she told me it was on account that she thought that I, along with her other four children, would think she was some kind of foolish old woman.

What happened to my mother, and to countless other Ukrainians and people of eastern Europe is an integral part of Canada's history. We cannot brush it aside as distorted memories of foolish individuals. We must recognize what happened so that the individuals that labored in these camps be remembered as people who contributed to making Canada a great country.

Those words probably express better than all of the speeches in the House why we must act today, and why we must support the hard work of the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette. Those words express why we must stand together to honour the contribution of Ukrainian Canadians in this country. It has often been said that we cannot go forward until we remember the past. Here is a precise example of just that.

While we are all tidying up loose ends and complete some outstanding work of the House as we will likely proceed to an election in short order, I hope that we can actually take the little time that is necessary to ensure that all stages of Bill C-331 are completed today. I hope that we can put the final stamp of approval on this legislative initiative and ensure that Ukrainian Canadians remember this Parliament as one that stood up for recognition of their contribution to this country.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

November 23rd, 2005 / 6:45 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park
Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women and Minister responsible for Industry (Women Entrepreneurs)

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by thanking the hon. member for his bill and his cooperation at committee. We have been able to finally address a very important issue, an issue that struck at the hearts of all committee members. I want to thank him for his tremendous determination and hard work in this regard. I am so pleased to see that we are finally at third reading today.

Canada's experience with diversity distinguishes it from most other countries. Our 30 million inhabitants reflect a cultural, ethnic and linguistic makeup found nowhere else on the earth. Over 200,000 immigrants a year from all parts of the globe continue to choose Canada, drawn by its quality of life and its reputation as an open, peaceful and caring society that welcomes newcomers and indeed values diversity.

From Confederation through the boom years of immigration prior to World War I, to the inter-war years and the current post-war era, our immigration policy and legislation have helped to shape the Canada we have today. Over time, Canadian governments have reflected society's increasing willingness to accept differences within the population and specifically the legitimacy of the rights of minorities to maintain their culture and also their traditions. Throughout our history, there have, however, been instances of laws that would be considered regressive today.

In Canada, the years prior to World War I witnessed heavy immigration from eastern Europe. When war broke out, the country faced a serious problem: what to do with recent immigrants who were citizens of the countries with which Canada was at war.

The problem became quite acute in 1914 when German and Austro-Hungarian nationals resident in Canada were called upon by their respective governments to return home to honour their military draft obligations.

The War Measures Act of 1914 stated in section 6 that:

The Governor in Council may do and authorize such acts and things, and make from time to time such orders and regulations, as he may by reason of the existence of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection deem necessary or advisable for the security, defence, peace, order and welfare of Canada;... it is hereby declared that the powers of the Governor in Council shall extend to all matters coming within the classes of subjects hereinafter enumerated, that is to say....

Among other things were included “arrest, detention, exclusion and deportation” and “appropriation, control, forfeiture and disposition of property and of the use thereof”.

Under orders made pursuant to the War Measures Act, 8,579 people--civilians and prisoners of war--were interned in 26 camps across Canada during the first world war. The internees were composed of a mix of nationalities, including Turkish, Bulgarian, German and Austro-Hungarian. The largest number were from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, which included Croatians, Czechs, Poles, Serbians and other Europeans. The numbers also included perhaps 5,000 Ukrainians out of an estimated population of about 171,000 of Ukrainian origin in Canada at that time.

From the beginning, internees were treated as prisoners of war and, in keeping with the terms of the Hague convention, received the same standards of food, clothing and accommodations as Canadian soldiers. It is estimated that by the end of the war in 1918 there were only three internment camps remaining in operation. The last camp officially closed in February 1920.

Under the federal Office of the Custodian of Enemy Property, a claims process was adjudicated in the post-war period of World War I and World War II. The government had determined that after World War I some moneys went unclaimed from some internees of Austro-Hungarian empire descent, despite advertisements in mainstream and ethnocultural newspapers.

In 1976, convinced the vast majority of claims had been resolved, the Government of Canada closed this office. As the Hon. Sheila Finestone stated in the House of Commons in 1994:

--as Canadians we are proud that our citizens trace their origins to every part of the world. Together we have built this country on the principles of fairness, generosity and compassion. Our history records the remarkable success we have achieved by applying those principles.

Our history also records that at times we have strayed from them. There have been episodes that have caused suffering to people.

In the crisis atmosphere of war, some Canadian ethnocultural communities found their loyalty questioned, their freedom restrained and their lives disrupted.

Canadians wish those episodes had never happened. We wish those practices had never occurred.

Allow me to continue to quote:

We all share in the responsibility to learn from the past. The Government of Canada believes that our common obligation lies in preventing such situations from ever occurring again.

With that statement in the House, the government adopted a policy on historical redress, which, first, reaffirmed the uniqueness of the Japanese Canadian redress agreement; second, confirmed that no financial compensation would be awarded to individuals or communities for historical events; third, committed to a forward-looking agenda to ensure that such practices did not recur; and fourth, noted that limited and future federal resources would be used to create a more equitable society.

Indeed, the establishment of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation was a signal of federal commitment to eliminate racism and racial discrimination. In this regard, the foundation officially opened its doors in November 1997.

Canada in 2005 is a very different Canada. Tremendous steps have been taken toward making our country a better place. Beginning in 1950 with the report of the Massey-Lévesque commission, ethnocultural diversity gradually came to be understood as an essential ingredient in a distinct Canadian identity.

The Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960 recognized and declared that certain human rights and fundamental freedoms existed, without discrimination on the grounds of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex. In 1970, Canada ratified the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. As a party to the convention, Canada has undertaken to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms.

The Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 proclaimed that all individuals should have equal opportunity with others without being discriminated against on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.

In 1982, section 15 of the newly adopted Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms also recognized that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. Section 15 came into effect in 1985.

In addition, the multicultural character of Canada gained constitutional recognition in section 27 of the charter. It specified that the courts were to interpret the charter “in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians”. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988 affirmed multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic of Canadian society.

We have worked and will continue working with Ukrainian Canadians and other ethnocultural communities to document their history and experiences through a range of commemorative projects, including films, books and exhibits that enable them to tell their stories to other Canadians.

To conclude, I would again like to thank the member for his efforts and his hard work to ensure that the bill will become law. I strongly believe in the need to acknowledge and commemorate the historical events referred to in Bill C-331 as well as educate Canadians about these experiences. No matter how much we might wish to erase these events from the history of our country, today's government cannot, nor can we pay for restitution for historical actions without placing an undue burden on existing and future generations that are in no way responsible for these events.

The Ukrainian community has helped to shape the strong multicultural society we are today. I truly honour the contribution that individuals of Ukrainian descent have made in the building of Canada and I recognize that this contribution was made even in the face of dark moments and great hardship.

It is important that we find an acceptable way to highlight it and educate Canadians about this contribution. I am pleased that Bill C-331 offers us a way forward in doing just that. I encourage all members of the House to support it in its amended form.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

November 23rd, 2005 / 6:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for persevering with Bill C-331 and for standing up for the Ukrainian community.

Tonight is a historic moment in the House of Commons because all parties have been a part of something that is very good. I applaud the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for taking the leadership.

Could the member please make some comments about the future in terms of what will happen with the bill?

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

November 23rd, 2005 / 6:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, first let me thank the member for Kildonan—St. Paul for seconding the bill and for her continued support of the Ukrainian community in Winnipeg.

It is indeed an honour to rise this evening to debate Bill C-331, the Ukrainian Canadian restitution act, at its final reading.

This is a historic day not only for the over one million Ukrainian Canadians, but also for Canada as a society.

I will not use up all of my allotted time in order that all members and all parties get to speak to Bill C-331 this evening.

It is indeed a miracle that Bill C-331 has made it this far. The question I ask is how did Bill C-331 get this far? Bill C-331 succeeded because there was goodwill and cooperation on the part of many people. I have a lot of people to thank. Getting Bill C-331 to this stage has truly been a team effort.

It was truly a team effort on the part of the Ukrainian community, the Taras Shevchenko Foundation, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Ukrainian Civil Liberties Association and the thousands of Canadians of Ukrainian descent who have worked on this redress issue for over two decades.

It was truly a team effort on the part of the House of Commons, the Liberal government members, the Conservative Party members, the Bloc Party members as well as the NDP members.

We all know that after two decades it is time for the government to resolve this outstanding issue in the history of this country. This bleak event in Canadian history must be recognized and we, as a society, must learn from it. This is an issue of justice denied.

I am honoured to have tabled Bill C-331 three times in the House. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to represent the wishes of the Ukrainian community in Canada.

Passing Bill C-331 demonstrates the mature Canada that people in this country expect. It makes a loud statement that Canada has grown up, that Canada can accept its past, that Canada can learn from its past, that Canada will not repeat this history.

Bill C-331 would never have gotten out of committee without the full cooperation of its members and political parties. I want to thank the heritage minister, the chairman of the heritage committee, the parliamentary secretary, all the party leaders, including my own party leader who spoke at the second reading stage of Bill C-331, and all members of the committee.

All members of the committee involved in this parliamentary process, in fact all members of the House, can surely take credit for the success of Bill C-331. There was political will to do the right thing and that actually happened to help push Bill C-331 to this stage this evening.

It is my hope that in passing Bill C-331, the House of Commons will send a strong signal to this government and to the next government that the people of Canada have spoken and spoken loudly to get on with it and to bring resolution to this issue.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

November 23rd, 2005 / 6:35 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

Before the House proceeds to report stage of Bill C-331, I would like to refer hon. members to my ruling of March 21, 2005 at pages 4372 and 4373 of Hansard, in which I determined that Bill C-331, in the form it was then in, required a royal recommendation in order to be put to a vote at third reading. At that time, I said, “If the bill is amended at committee or report stage, the need for a royal recommendation may be removed and a vote may be requested”.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage reported the bill with amendments on November 3. I have examined the report and note that the bill has been amended so as to remove the need for a royal recommendation. Accordingly, Bill C-331 may proceed to a vote at third reading.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

November 3rd, 2005 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

In accordance with order of reference on Thursday, March 24, your committee has considered Bill C-331, the Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act, and agreed on Tuesday, November 1, to report it with amendments.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

October 3rd, 2005 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Along the same lines on a related private member's bill that is now before the committee, and again in concurrence with the mover of the private member's bill, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, your committee is requesting an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-331, the Ukrainian Canadian restitution act, thereby providing the committee with a total of 90 sitting days during which to complete its study of the bill.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

March 24th, 2005 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to stand and thank all members who spoke on Bill C-331, both at the first hour of reading as well as this evening at the second hour.

I thank members of the Bloc as well as members of the NDP for their continued support as well as the leader of the official opposition for his intervention this evening. I also thank the Ukrainian community for the 20 years of commitment it has given to ensuring that redress continues. In essence, this is their bill.

Bill C-331 was crafted in consultation with both the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress as well as the Ukrainian-Canadian Civil Liberties Association. My intervention has been very brief. It has only been about seven years and their's has been over two decades. Hopefully, this is the year that we will all bring this to fruition.

I begin by briefly stating that there are two targets to the principle of the bill. First is to acknowledge the internment component of our Canadian history, which is totally missing in Canada's history. It has been hidden all these years. It is long overdue. Canada cannot be shameful of its past. It must learn from its past, but first it has to acknowledge its past. It has to acknowledge the hurt and the harm it created for the people who suffered.

This occurred, as mentioned a number of times this evening, during the First World War, between 1914 and 1920, when over 5,000 Ukrainian-Canadians were interned. Internment is a kind word for prison camp. Over 80,000 Ukrainian-Canadians were asked to register like common criminals and report monthly to the police. It is almost unbelievable that an event of this nature would have happened in this country, a country that promotes freedom of speech and democracy, yet we treated our pioneers of Ukrainian descent in that manner. It is shameful. That is why their story has to be told.

That is in essence the purpose of Bill C-331, and there are two purposes. The first is to acknowledge the event. The second target of the bill is to ask the Liberal government of the day to sit down with the Ukrainian community and work out a resolution. As I said, this has gone on for over 20 years. There is no shortage of effort by many people in the country who want to resolve the issue.

The former prime minister, Jean Chrétien, made a promise before he even became the prime minister. He said that he would deal with it. He has come and gone and the issue is not resolved. I am sure members of the current Liberal government have been lobbied over the last 10 years and the issue is still here. I know, Madam Speaker, that you made interventions and had a part to play in trying to resolve the issue and it did not happen. We have progressed somewhat but still have a long way to go.

Let me just make a couple of comments about the speaker's ruling on the bill. He stated that clause 3 would require a royal recommendation. That is not a problem. Let me also say that I met with the secretary of state to the minister responsible for multiculturalism and his staff. I also met with the legislative assistant for the minister of heritage to talk about how we can all help to get the bill through the House. I know Liberal members opposite are just as interested in being helpful rather than not being helpful, and I agree.

My position has been that too many of us for too long have waited. We need to work together to ensure that the bill gets through the House. That is why I encourage the members of the Liberal Party to vote for the bill when we return after the break, the first week of April.

My intent is to ensure that the bill will be streamlined so it will be acceptable to all members of the House. We all have big hearts and we need to deal with the issue today, not tomorrow.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

March 24th, 2005 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, I am glad to address Bill C-331. I want to thank my hon. colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for the great work that he has been doing in presenting this bill. He has a large constituency with Ukrainian Canadians, as I do. I am a person of Ukrainian descent and quite proud of my heritage.

I wish to give members a bit of background. During World War I the War Measures Act of 1914 was implemented which, by order in council, took over 8,500 enemy aliens and 5,000 of those were Canadians and stuck them into concentration camps. Essentially, these interns were turned into forced labourers, used in logging camps and in the development of our national transportation system, and were spread right across the country.

Many of these Ukrainian immigrants came from the area of Bukovyna in Ukraine that was being occupied at the time by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was a very unfortunate event because these people had their property and cash assets all confiscated by the Government of Canada, along with some of these other Europeans, and never had those moneys and properties returned to them. It was a grave injustice that through this bill we now have the opportunity to correct.

In 1993 the former Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, when he was leader of the official opposition, promised to rectify the situation. It has been over 12 years since that promise was made. It is just another example of a Liberal promise made, Liberal promise broken. This is a great opportunity for us to address it.

I must say that our family was quite fortunate. My grandparents emigrated from Bukovyna actually as two separate families. My grandmother was only nine years old when she emigrated to Canada from Ukraine and my grandfather was a young man who came a few years later. They came in the early 1900s. Luckily, for whatever reasons, my grandfather immigrated in 1907 and was not put in one of these forced labour camps. He was not put into a concentration camp nor had his property confiscated. Luckily, the Ukrainian community where I grew up was untouched.

My father told me it was not until he was a young man that he even realized that this had happened because our community, for whatever reason even though the immigrants came from Bukovyna which was under the Austria-Hungarian Empire rule, seemed to have gone untouched. However, certain Ukrainian descent Canadians were forced into these camps which is very unfortunate.

I like the way this bill is being proposed by my hon. colleague. Essentially, we are not talking about restitution to families, but we are talking about taking a hard look at putting in place the proper memorials and recognition of the suffering that was unjustly caused by the Government of Canada.

There were 24 concentration camps across Canada. We want to ensure that there are plaques, memorials and cairns erected at those sites, particularly the ones that possibly have not been recognized yet. We do not want to just erect plaques and cairns, but we wish to maintain them. So often in rural Canada we have cairns set up, but no one bothers to take care of them after we get them erected. Pretty soon the flags are tattered and no one is there maintaining the sites. This is actually taking a long term approach at this proposal of recognizing the injustice and maintaining those sites.

The other great part is that it will set up a permanent museum in Banff National Park, the location of one of these concentration camps. Banff is such a high volume visitor area. It will give us an opportunity to show that in the past Canadians have made mistakes. It will give us an opportunity to tell about the injustice, to educate people about how the concentration camps operated, and to talk about what a great contribution those people made to the nation.

Through their forced labour, they helped develop our logging industry. They helped develop our transportation system. They worked hard on behalf of Canada. Amazingly, they came out of the concentration camps and became very functional people within our society, and made a huge contribution after the fact.

This is a general recognition of all Ukrainians in Canada in developing farming in the west, particularly with the mass immigration during the very early parts of the century, which of course included my ancestors. My great grandfather and my grandfather, with their families, started farming and that of course was a major contribution in ensuring that the Prairies were productive.

The other part of the bill is to ensure that there are proper ceremonies to recognize the opening of the museum, the erection of the different cairns and plaques, and to have those formal ceremonies. We also want to ensure the production of the educational materials, so that at the cairns, when they are having their ceremonies in the schools in the areas where these cairns are erected and of course in the main museum that is going to be established in Banff National Park, they will be able to tell the story.

One of the suggestions in the bill that I really like, which my hon. colleague has brought forward, is the issuance of a stamp or series of stamps to point out this unfortunate event in our history.

Finally, the part of the bill which is very important proposes that a review of the emergency act that we have be carried out by the department that is responsible for it. We must also review how that report comes to Parliament and how we ensure that an atrocity like this never happens again.

The great thing about history is that we can always learn from it. We can look at our past and learn about some of the shortfalls that have happened and about the mistakes that we have made to ensure that we put in place the proper corrective measures, so that we never do it again. This is a great chance for us to do that. The bill creates the initiative to ensure that we do it.

Finally, the bill is directly in line with the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada. Our party policy states that we will recognize and resolve the outstanding redress issues of the Ukrainian Canadian and Chinese Canadian communities. That particular policy can be attributed to the hard work of my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

This is a great opportunity to correct this injustice. It is good work. Duzhe dobre.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

March 24th, 2005 / 5 p.m.
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Burlington
Ontario

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Madam Speaker, as a country, Canada represents a coming together of many peoples. As such, we have learned over time to respect and mutually accept each other. It is this fact that separates us from others and puts Canada on the world stage.

We have established a legal foundation, enshrined in our Constitution, that is aimed at ensuring Canadians are protected from racism and discrimination. We will continue, as a government, to work on these issues so that all Canadians have the opportunity to participate to their fullest potential. In fact, that is what this House has been debating all week.

At the same time, we are working to strengthen the bonds of shared citizenship to ensure the continuance of the strong and cohesive Canadian society that we have today.

The Government of Canada recognizes there have been dark moments in the history of this country. We have recognized that presenting a complete history is important in understanding who we are as Canadians, even if the history we have to tell includes times when we have strayed from our shared commitment to human justice.

The internment of Ukrainian Canadians and other Europeans during the first world war is one of those chapters in Canadian history that we as a people, as Canadians, are not proud of, even though the actions of the government of that day were legal at that time.

Our commitment as a government is to strengthen the fabric of Canada's multicultural society. We are committed to learning from the past. We are committed to acknowledging and commemorating the significant contributions to Canada made by our rich and various ethnoracial and ethnocultural groups, including of course Ukrainians.

The Department of Canadian Heritage and the cultural agencies in the Canadian Heritage portfolio have made considerable efforts to ensure that the story of Ukrainians in Canada is known to all Canadians.

For example, Parks Canada, as one of the members opposite mentioned, while working under the heritage portfolio, worked closely with national and local Ukrainian Canadian groups to develop interpretive exhibits at Banff National Park, an exhibit I have seen, and at Yoho National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park. The exhibits help visitors and all Canadians understand the experiences, hardships and contributions of Ukrainian internees.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is providing funding to Ukrainian Canadian organizations to assist in documenting the experiences of Ukrainian internees and to underline the contribution of the Ukrainian community to our country.

Since the 1890s, when waves of Ukrainians helped to settle this vast land, Ukrainians have played an important role in Canada. An incredible number of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage have made extraordinary contributions to Canada, contributions of which all Canadians are very proud.

Wayne Gretzky, of course, is a star and international sports hero. Ed Werenich is a world champion in curling.

In the cultural sphere, all of us have adored artist William Kurelek's paintings and the work of violinist Steven Staryk.

In public life, Ramon Hnatyshyn and Roy Romanow have made us all proud.

Canada's first woman in space is Roberta Bondar. I was saying to one of my colleagues that I did not know she was of Ukrainian heritage.

To think of Ukrainian Canadians is also to recall Canada's war hero, Peter Dmytruk, who died for all of us on the battlefields of France in World War II.

As Canadians, we are proud to live in a country that recognizes the importance of diversity.

In the October 2004 Speech from the Throne, the government pledged to pursue its objectives, “in a manner that recognizes Canada's diversity as a source of strength and innovation”. We pledged “to be a steadfast advocate of inclusion” and “to demand equality of opportunity so that prosperity can be shared by all Canadians”.

In line with these commitments, the government is now advancing a number of multicultural and anti-racism initiatives designed to cultivate an even more equitable and inclusive society. Bills like Bill C-38.

In our recent budget, we provided $5 million per year to the multiculturalism program to enhance its contributions to equality for all.

A comprehensive and effective multiculturalism program is important in our increasingly diverse country where by the year 2016 the proportion of visible minorities is expected to reach 20%.

In the October 2004 Speech from the Throne, the government said that it would “strengthen Canada's ability to combat racism, hate speech and hate crimes”.

We will achieve that plan by investing $56 million over the next fives years to implement Canada's action plan against racism. Canada's action plan, which the government announced on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day that all of us celebrated, will reinforce the government's ongoing commitment to eliminating racist behaviours and attitudes. It will strengthen partnerships between the Government of Canada and community organizations to combat racism and will advance our international and domestic objectives.

A society looking to its future cannot do so without acknowledging troubling events from Canada's past. Budget 2005 provided $25 million over the next three years for commemorative and educational initiatives to highlight the contributions that Ukrainians and other ethnocultural groups have made to our Canadian society and to help build a better understanding among all Canadians of the strength of Canadian diversity.

With this funding the government is responding to demands from the community in a way that respects both the concerns of the communities and the government's 1994 policy on this issue.

Bill C-331 looks to the past for a solution. As a government we are looking to the future for all Canadians.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

March 24th, 2005 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise in the House of Commons to speak to Bill C-331, the Ukrainian Canadian recognition and restitution act. This bill has been brought forth due to the determination and the stick-to-it-iveness of the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette.

Sometimes in our history mistakes are made. Dare I say we cannot rewrite history, as the leader of the official opposition just pointed out, but what we can do is recognize a wrongdoing and give it the kind of recognition it deserves.

From 1997 to 2001 the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette consulted on this bill. As the previous speakers have said, the purpose of this enactment is to provide for redress for the injustice done to persons of Ukrainian descent and other Europeans during the first world war, to commemorate this sad event in Canadian history, and to provide for restitution. Restitution is to be devoted to educational materials dealing with Canada's past internment policies and activities and to promote tolerance and the role of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On April 1, 2001 this bill was introduced by the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette. In the course of time the bill died on the order paper, but the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette had so much conviction about what should be done that it was reintroduced on November 18, 2002. Once again this very important bill died on the order paper. What had happened to Ukrainian Canadians was something that really touched the heart of the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette, so once again on October 12, 2004 the bill was reintroduced.

We have to note it is seldom that a member of Parliament takes so much time and makes so much of a commitment to reintroduce a bill. However, the member has done so because he has so much conviction that the Ukrainian Canadian people need to have redress on this particular issue.

As members have said before me, with the outbreak of World War I, the War Measures Act in 1914 was implemented through an order in council by the Canadian government. This resulted in the internment of 8,579 people. They were termed enemy aliens. They included over 5,000 Ukrainians who had immigrated to Canada from territories under the control of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

The internees were used as forced labourers to develop Canadian infrastructure. They were used to develop Banff National Park, the logging industry in northern Ontario and Quebec, the steel mills in Ontario and Nova Scotia and the mines in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia. The infrastructure development program benefited Canadian corporations. There was no doubt about it. The terrible thing about this was that the internment was carried on for two years after the end of World War I. This was a sad day in our Canadian history.

The member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette was determined to make sure that the Ukrainian Canadian family of people who immigrated to our country was recognized not only for their contributions but also that the internment was something that should never have happened.

These wonderful people, who have been a foundation of our country and who have done many things to help Canada, should not have had to endure this internment. As other members have said, we cannot redo history. It happened and and it is time to address it and recognize the people of Ukrainian extraction, the people who helped build this country.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have done much to bring this issue to the forefront. In fact, to some degree the Mulroney government made promises of support. Even as early as 1993 the leader of the opposition, Jean Chrétien, said that he would do something to address this issue. It has been 11 years since that promise was made and Ukrainian Canadians are still waiting for acknowledgment of these injustices.

I am proud to stand in the House of Commons today to bring recognition and honour to the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette because this is what our Canadian Parliament is all about. He has been a champion for Ukrainian Canadians. He has also been a member of Parliament who has really touched the hearts of all Canadians because all Canadians now at this time, years after this happened, feel that this is a sad day in Canadian history.

The Government of Canada during that time unjustly confiscated money and property from Ukrainians and other Europeans, money that was never returned.

In Bill C-331, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette asks that the contemporary value be applied to various educational and commemorative projects for the benefit of all Canadians. No restitution will be made to individuals but rather the money will be put to laying the foundation of history so something like this can never happen again on Canadian soil.

Memorial plaques have been and are being installed in the 24 concentration camps in which persons of Ukrainian or eastern European descent were interned during World War I. Some still do not have such plaques but these plaques describe the events of the time and the regrets of present day Canadians, written in Ukrainian, English and French. In our country all can read this, all can remember and all can learn from this sad day in history.

The member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette also wanted to ensure that all memorial plaques at the concentration camp sites would be properly maintained. A lot of thought, a lot of stick-to-it-iveness and a lot of dedication has gone into the advent of this very important bill here in the House of Commons.

The bill also asks for the establishment of a permanent museum in Banff National Park at the site of the camp established there, again with signage in Ukrainian, English and French. This will provide information on the operation of all the concentration camps established in Canada at the time of World War I and the role that Ukrainian Canadians have played in the building of Canada since that time.

We have gone through a memorable year where the people of Ukraine have become the heroes of the world with their vote on December 26, 2004. We know the member for Etobicoke Centre was a real champion in that election. I think we need to acknowledge the heroes of our country. I have to give honour to the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette and thank him for his perseverance.

I know members on all sides of the House will put Bill C-331 through to honour and commemorate this event.