Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my private member's bill, the internment of persons of Croatian origin recognition act. The purpose of the bill is to acknowledge and commemorate a tragic episode in our nation's history when persons of Croatian origin were rounded up, interned, and used as forced labour in internment camps in Canada.
With the outbreak of World War I, prejudice and racism was fanned into xenophobia, culminating in the implementation of the War Measures Act by an order in council of the Canadian government. Some 5,954 so-called enemy aliens, of which close to 400 were Croatian Canadians, were interned.
While some would prefer to sweep this tragic episode of the internment operations from 1914 to 1920 into the dustbin of history, the Croatian Canadian community remembers. Through public acknowledgement by the government, it seeks to bring closure to this painful episode in our common history. Better public understanding of what happened will reinforce and promote our shared values of multiculturalism, inclusion, and above all, mutual respect.
It is my sincere hope that colleagues on all sides of the House will embrace and support this worthy and long overdue legislative initiative.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)