Holocaust Memorial Day Act

An Act to establish Holocaust Memorial Day

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.


Richard Marceau  Bloc

Introduced as a private member’s bill.


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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.

Canadian Jewish Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

February 13th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House today to speak to Bill S-232 to recognize every May as Canadian Jewish heritage month. At the outset, I want to start by congratulating the member for York Centre for sponsoring this bill, and to say a short hello to Toronto to my son, Nitin, who is watching at home.

Bill S-232 would recognize the important contributions Jewish Canadians have made to Canada's social, economic, political, and cultural fabric.

Bill S-232 would also provide an opportunity to remember, celebrate, and educate future generations about the inspirational role that Jewish Canadians have played and continue to play in communities across the country.

Today, Canada's Jewish population is nearly 400,000 strong, making it the fourth-largest Jewish population in the entire world. Most Canadian Jews, as has been mentioned, live in Ontario and Quebec, followed by British Columbia, Manitoba, as well as the province of Alberta. Jewish communities in Canada have made a major contribution to the development of cities, particularly Toronto and Montreal, which today count 188,710 and 90,780 people of Jewish faith or Jewish origin, respectively.

Supporting this bill is important for our government because it is consistent with past decisions of Parliament aimed at commemorating and supporting the Jewish community, its heritage, and the important contributions that Jews have made to Canadian society.

During the 37th Parliament, in 2003, Bill C-459, an act to establish Holocaust Memorial Day, was unanimously and quickly passed through all stages by Parliament. During the 40th Parliament, Bill C-442, an act to establish a National Holocaust Monument, garnered unanimous support and was given royal assent on March 25, 2011.

It was also in this commemorative and educational spirit that on September 27, 2017, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Canadian Heritage participated in the unveiling ceremony of the National Holocaust Monument. The establishment of Canadian Jewish heritage month would provide an opportunity to commemorate the memory of the Holocaust and the important fight that continues to this day against anti-Semitism.

Over the last few decades, a number of awareness and commemoration initiatives were funded by the government under the community historical recognition program. These include the Wheel of Conscience monument inaugurated in 2011 at the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax at Pier 21 to commemorate the victims of the MS St. Louis incident in 1939. The importance of learning from history has been demonstrated again in this House, even today, in reference to some of the speeches made by my hon. colleagues and people talking about the importance of learning from the decision of the Canadian government of the time to turn away German Jews who were aboard the MS St. Louis.

The Government of Canada has also been committed for decades to combatting all forms of anti-Semitism, both at home and around the world. Canada became a full member in 2009 of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. That intergovernmental body supports Holocaust education, remembrance, and research both nationally and internationally.

Celebrations such as Canadian Jewish heritage month will resonate with many Canadians and help create vibrant and inclusive Canadian communities that foster and support our arts and culture. Proclaiming Canadian Jewish heritage month will give us the opportunity to recognize and commemorate the excellence and passion of eminent Canadians of Jewish origin who shaped our history and our culture and continue to do so.

Let us remember just a few of them: Leonard Cohen, the famous author, songwriter, and singer; Mordecai Richler, a novelist who wrote about my alma mater, McGill; Charles Rosner Bronfman, a businessman; Jessalyn Gilsig, an actor; Drake, known by many, the hip-hop artist and actor; Ruth Goldbloom, co-founder of Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21; Jane Jacobs, the journalist and journalism theoretician; Ezekiel Hart, the first Canadian Jew elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, as it was then known; and Cecil Hart, coach of the Montreal Canadiens, after whom the famous NHL MVP trophy is named.

The bill that we are debating tonight would also allow us to focus on Jewish heritage and important sites around the country. Allow me to highlight one located in my very own riding of Parkdale—High Park.

The Junction Shul, located in the neighbourhood known as the Junction, was called Congregation Knesseth Israel. It was established over a century ago in the northwest corner of my riding of Parkdale—High Park. At 56 Maria Street, a tract of land was purchased in 1911 by a small number of immigrant families, who also founded that congregation. The structure, which still stands to this very day, was completed in 1913. I am very proud to say that Knesseth Israel is the oldest synagogue in Toronto still in use, and the building was designated as an Ontario heritage site in 1984.

When we talk about the formal recognition of May as Canadian Jewish heritage month, we are also talking about Canada's multiculturalism policy, as referenced in the comments by my friend on the opposition benches. That policy is entrenched in our Multiculturalism Act and in the Canadian charter, and it plays a fundamental role in shaping our diverse, inclusive, and welcoming society.

The policy acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance, and share their cultural heritage. It also promotes the full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in the continuing evolution and shaping of all aspects of Canadian society, and assists them in eliminating barriers to that participation.

That is what makes Canadians proud to stand in the House and talk about their heritage, whether that is Jewish heritage, Scottish Canadian Jewish heritage, or Jewish heritage that hails from other parts of the planet. That is what makes this country what it is. It is policies like this and bills such as this that reinforce that diversity and that strength.

This dual focus on valuing diversity and ensuring equity distinguishes Canada's approach from those of our global peers. It goes beyond a policy that simply tolerates minority groups. We actually celebrate different cultures and we actively seek to build an inclusive society.

Supporting the bill is also aligned with similar provincial initiatives, such as the declaration of May as Jewish Heritage Month by the Government of Ontario in 2012.

I am proud to stand in the House to indicate the government's support of the bill, but I am equally proud, as a parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism, to emphasize the important contribution Jewish Canadians have made to that multicultural fabric.

As a Muslim Canadian man, and a member of this government's caucus, I am equally proud to say that the fight against anti-Semitism, the fight to create a more tolerant and plural society, is a fight that we continue with vigilance, as we must. This kind of bill is important because it underscores that heritage. It underscores the fight to promote tolerance and pluralism, and it is something that this government and I are very proud to stand behind.

With Canadian Jewish heritage month, we will provide a welcome opportunity to look back at the thousands of Jewish Canadians who have come to this country over centuries and linked their fate and their futures to the fate and future of this country we call Canada.

Holocaust Memorial DayStatements By Members

April 19th, 2004 / 2:10 p.m.
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Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday for the first time, we marked Holocaust Memorial Day—Yom ha-Shoah. Indeed, on November 7, Bill C-459 received royal assent after being unanimously passed by the House.

The Shoah is the culmination of a degrading policy to exterminate clearly identified groups, including Jews of course, but also Gypsies and homosexuals. During their domination, the Nazis and their allies imprisoned, tortured and killed six million people.

The Shoah is also an episode that could have been avoided, had it not been for the complicit silence of the populations of the time and the indifference of democratic governments, which should have acted sooner to stop Hitler and his servile followers.

Unfortunately, the lessons of the Shoah were not fully learned, as we were reminded with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, where 800,000 people were massacred over a period of 12 weeks.

In light of the resurgence of anti-Semitism all over the world, it is everyone's duty to fight intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism everywhere and always. Let us hope that this first Holocaust Memorial Day will allow us to reflect on this and, more importantly, will convince us to take immediate action.

Patent ActRoyal Assent

November 7th, 2003 / 1:15 p.m.
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The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-45, an act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal liability of organizations)--Chapter No. 21.

Bill C-25, an act to modernize employment and labour relations in the public service and to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Canadian Centre for Management Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter 22.

Bill C-6, an act to establish the Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims to provide for the filing, negotiation and resolution of specific claims and to make related amendments to other acts--Chapter 23.

Bill C-459, an act to establish Holocaust Memorial Day--Chapter 24.

Bill C-55, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2004--Chapter 25.

Bill C-37, an act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter 26.

Bill C-50, an act to amend the statute law in respect of benefits for veterans and the children of deceased veterans--Chapter 27.

Bill C-48, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (natural resources)--Chapter 28

Bill S-21, an act to amalgamate the Canadian Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and The Canadian Association of Financial Planners under the name The Financial Advisors Association of Canada.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 5th, 2003 / 3:30 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations and negotiations among all parties in the House and I would seek unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That the amendment made by the Senate to Bill C-459, an act to establish Holocaust Memorial Day, be now read a second time and concurred in.

This would be forthwith without debate. To clarify, it is to add one word referring to both Houses of Parliament.

Holocaust Memorial Day ActRoutine Proceedings

October 21st, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
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Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-459, an act to establish Holocaust Memorial Day.

Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of emotion that I rise today to speak about the introduction and passage of a bill to establish the Holocaust Memorial Day.

One of my best friends, Howard Rudolph, lost his father Albert not too long ago, unfortunately. Albert Rudolph was a holocaust survivor. Tattooed on his skin was an indelible mark of this dark period in human history. His skin bore the mark of a regime that tried to kill him and wiped out his family and friends and his village, just because he was born a Jew. Albert Rudolph's death made me realize that, unfortunately, time is rushing on and that there are not too many survivors left. Hence the numbers of direct witnesses of this dark period are gradually declining.

It is therefore important for society as a whole and for government to take these witnesses' place and ensure that everyone, especially young people, know what happened at that time.

I would like to thank the members for York Centre, Lanark—Carleton, Kings—Hants and Winnipeg South Centre for all their work toward having this bill passed unanimously. I would also like to thank Senator Jerahmiel S. Grafstein and Senator Noël Kinsella, who undertook to ensure speedy passage of this bill in the Senate. I specifically want to thank the member for Winnipeg North Centre who accepted that such legislation should be unanimously passed by the House. I also thank all my colleagues for allowing this bill to go through, to help us ensure—at least as far as the Bloc' is concerned—that Quebec's national motto, Je me souviens —I remember—will be associated with what the Holocaust should teach each and every one of us, that is: Never again.