Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day Act

An Act to establish a Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day and to recognize the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 as an act of genocide


Kerry Diotte  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Defeated, as of Dec. 13, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-306.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment designates the eighteenth day of May, in each and every year, as “Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day” in recognition of the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944.


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.


Dec. 13, 2016 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Operation UNIFIERGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2017 / midnight
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Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Chair, we have heard a lot of praise for all that Canada has done for Ukraine, from all sides of the House, but I am troubled by the fact that sometimes it is a little empty. I wonder, and I would love to find out from my colleague across the way, why the majority of Liberals failed to support my bill, Bill C-306, that condemned the deportation of the Crimean Tatars as genocide. I have yet to hear a good explanation for that. I would love to hear it.

Operation UNIFIERGovernment Orders

March 20th, 2017 / 11:10 p.m.
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Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Chair, at this time three years ago, the world was watching in horror as Russia invaded Ukraine, staged a sham referendum in Crimea and annexed the territory a few days later. It was a shocking violation of what we understood to be a fundamental principle of our international order that borders are not to be changed by force. Vladimir Putin followed this illegal act with another assault on Ukraine in the Donbass region. This region's conflict continues to claim lives and drive people from their homes.

This issue is not an abstraction to Canadians. With 125 years of Ukrainian immigration to our country, our nation and our people are intimately connected to Ukraine. My riding of Edmonton Griesbach is home to a large part of Edmonton's Ukrainian community, and events on the other side of the world resonate deeply for the people I represent.

Two weeks ago, the Liberal government announced that it was extending Operation Unifier, Canada's military training mission to Ukraine. For nearly two years, about 200 Canadian Armed Forces members have been deployed to western Ukraine. They have provided training in explosive ordnance disposal, flight safety, logistics system modernization, military policing, and medical training. That mission would have expired on March 31, but the government's announcement to extend the mission came at the very last minute. That delay was an act of disrespect, I believe.

Ukrainians are putting their lives on the line for the freedom and independence of their country, and they need the help of Canada. I am in favour of the proposed extension of this mission, but I would like to see it expanded. I am proud to support the package of measures recently outlined by my two colleagues, the member for Thornhill and the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. They have worked tirelessly on this, and really, that is why this commitment is happening.

The Liberal government spent the past year and a half cozying up to Putin, and just recently realized he is not such a great guy after all. As part of this effort to curry favour with the Russian regime, the Liberals shamefully ordered the majority of their members to vote against my private member's bill, Bill C-306, which would have recognized the deportation of the Crimean Tatars by the U.S.S.R. as a genocide.

In her recent statement on the anniversary of Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote:

Canada is deeply troubled by the politically motivated application of ‘anti-terrorist’ and ‘anti-extremist’ legislation; ongoing harassment of human rights activists, journalists and lawyers; arbitrary detentions; disappearances; and the persecution of Crimean Tatars and other minorities. We denounce the banning of the Mejlis, the self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, and have called on Russia to reverse this illegal and immoral decision.

My private member's bill and the debate around it called attention to all of these issues. I was pleased to have earned the support of all of my opposition colleagues, but the majority of Liberals voted against it. Some went so far as to claim that the deportation of Tatars did not constitute a genocide. That is an absurd claim supported only by the Putin regime's biggest apologists, including Canada's former parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs.

The bare minimum is not enough. Ukrainians are still fighting the battle that began on the Maidan in Kiev, expanded to Crimea and then to Donbass. In the past three years Ukrainians have proven themselves to be some of the fiercest defenders of the values all of us say we support. They are fighting for their lives, their families, their hometowns, their liberty. They want to be living in a free country that respects the fundamental human rights of every man and woman. As a friend and ally, Canada has a moral duty to stand with them in their fight. Ukraine should always be able to depend on us.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

December 13th, 2016 / 6:40 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to an order made on Thursday, December 1, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-306 under private members' business.

The House resumed from December 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-306, An Act to establish a Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day and to recognize the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 as an act of genocide, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2016 / 5:05 p.m.
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Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to speak with your oversight as Speaker today. So I do not forget, I want to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas as we approach the Christmas season, happy Hanukkah and happy new year.

I am truly honoured to speak to Bill C-31. It is a very important bill and it is unique in that it brings all the parties here from diverse opinions on different political debates together to support a free trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine. It is a good thing. It is nice to see the New Democrats temporarily lay aside their ideologies and their positions on free trade agreements, which is normally no, and say yes, and it is for very important reasons. I believe it is because of the incredible work and the history and relationship between Canada and the Ukraine.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Lakeland.

As has been pointed out, of our population in Canada of only 35 million people, 1.3 million have a Ukrainian heritage. I am one of those. I am greatly honoured that my grandparents, my baba and gido, from Brody, Ukraine, came to Canada and homesteaded, worked the land, built roads, cleared the land and worked hard to pay taxes. It was a very tough time but it was necessary. Different groups came from Europe to Canada to homestead and help build our great country.

That is the foundation on which we find ourselves in Canada. We have this heritage and this wonderful relationship between Canada and Ukraine.

The largest population of people with a Ukrainian heritage of course is in Ukraine. However, the second largest in the world is in Canada. That wonderful Ukrainian culture blesses us. The member across the way was so happy that perogies, cabbage rolls, borscht, kumasi were available. It is the wonderful food. We are also experiencing the wonderful dance at this important time of the year.

I also want to give huge thanks to the member of Parliament for Abbotsford who, in the last Parliament, was the minister of international trade. I have never seen somebody work as hard as he did. He was on the go, going all over the world. He accomplished free trade agreements that would create jobs and financial prosperity in Canada. He worked so hard for our country. I want to thank him for all the work he did.

In fact, I was able to go with him on one of his trade agreement trips. Senator Andreychuk was there as was the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. Again, we witnessed first hand how hard the member for Abbotsford, the former minister of international trade, worked.

I was also honoured to be with the former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, on one of those trade agreement trips. Shortly after President Yanukovych was elected the president of Ukraine, the prime minister hosted a trade mission to build relations with Ukraine.

On July 14, 2015, Prime Minister Harper and the prime minister of Ukraine successfully completed the negotiations on the Canada free trade agreement. It was a lot of years and a lot of hard work, and it was concluded just before the last election.

I am very happy and thankful that the government has indicated this is also one of its priorities, to continue the work of the previous government and see this very important free trade agreement ratified. It will be good for Canada and for Ukraine.

I also want to give huge thanks to the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. He has been long an advocate for justice. He is our critic for defence and is doing a great job. He has been to Ukraine many times. I enjoyed being with him on one of those trips as election observers.

In the last election when President Poroshenko was elected, I was an election observer in western Ukraine. The member observed first hand the attacks of war coming from Russia, directed by Putin. He first took Crimea as we were celebrating the Olympics. Then he continued to try to take eastern Ukraine. That mentality of dominance is very reminiscent of the Stalin years, when they would try to expand the Russian borders through all forms of brutality.

Over the years we saw President Yushchenko poisoned. Then Yanukovych took over. Then there were the shootings in Maidan, Russian provocateurs working with President Yanukovych killing Ukrainians. After Maidan, there was the election when Poroshenko was elected president. He came to Canada and spoke to Parliament in the House. The member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman and the member for Abbotsford built an incredible relationship with the president of Ukraine. For him to come to Canada as one of his first state visits identified the wonderful relationship we had with Ukraine.

I want to thank the government for now moving ahead and ratifying this very important agreement. That shows support to Ukraine. It is a benefit to Ukraine and to Canada. Again, I thank all of those who have done so much work.

More needs to happen. The fix for Ukraine is not won. There is no one secret thing that we can do to support Ukraine as it is protects itself in a defensive mode from the attacks from Russia, wanting to take the eastern part of Ukraine. We need to continue in our support of Ukraine. How do we do that?

Russian aggression has to be identified for what it is. The House will be voting shortly on Bill C-306. Over generations, there have been Russian attacks, from Stalin on, against Crimean Tatars. It meets the definition of genocide. Therefore, Bill C-306 asks Parliament to show Ukraine its support and call genocide what it is in the face of the Crimean Tatars. I hope every member in the House will do the right thing.

The other thing is increasing youth mobility. We need Ukrainian interns to continue to come to Canada and work so they can learn how Parliament is to function, not learn from our bad examples, but from good examples, so they can build a strong, prosperous country. We also need to fund PTSD training so those who struggle from the Russian attacks will be able to get the appropriate treatment. If we train them how to fish, they can fish. If we train them how to treat PTSD, they can meet those needs within their country, which are so important.

I am available to answer questions, but in the interest of time, I would ask members in the House not to ask me any questions so the member for Lakeland will be able to have her time. We are all anxious to hear her speak.

Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2016 / 3:10 p.m.
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James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to speak today to the Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement. I am going to be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Shepard, who is also very passionate about this.

To start off this debate, I want to thank the Minister of International Trade. She and I are just a couple of prairie farm kids of Ukrainian heritage who are quite excited about this agreement. I want to thank her for carrying the ball over the finish line, but it was our previous Conservative government, under Stephen Harper, that was able to get this trade agreement negotiated, and it took quite some time.

Actually, I was with the former prime minister back in 2010, along with the member from Langley, when we had those first discussions about free trade with the former Yanukovych regime. I can say that those were interesting discussions, to say the least. It was our first chance to interact with the president of that time, before things started going sideways in Ukraine as he tried to stamp out the Ukrainian nationality and as he robbed the treasury of Ukraine and tried to move all those funds into his personal coffers and those of other oligarchs and his own friends and family.

We have to remember that the member for York—Simcoe was the trade minister who started these negotiations back in 2010. Also, we have to pay tribute to the member for Abbotsford, the last Conservative trade minister, who really moved the yardstick when we had the discussions with the new president, President Poroshenko, and was able to finalize the substance of the free trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine in June 2015.

This is a huge win for both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. I am glad to see that our colleagues from the NDP are supporting this very important trade deal.

I have been to Ukraine, as have many of our other colleagues, on numerous occasions on election observation missions, on trade missions, and for diplomatic discussions. We can see the potential in Ukraine.

Even though Ukraine is still in a war with Russia, Crimea is under illegal occupation and annexation by Russia, and there is continued conflict in eastern Ukraine and Donbas, we know that we need to stand united with Ukraine. This Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement again shows the solidarity of this Parliament and the Canadian government standing with the people of Ukraine as we continue to support them in this struggle for democracy and international law and in making sure that they are ultimately victorious over the aggression of Vladimir Putin.

We have to also acknowledge that within Ukraine there are still many challenges. The Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement would open the door for more commerce, more prosperity, and more opportunity for individuals and companies in Ukraine and those in Canada who want to do business with Ukraine. Often we assume that it is people in Canada of Ukrainian heritage who are going to go over there and do business, but there is huge potential for all sorts of sectors to go over there and open the door. There is energy and gas exploration and development. The agricultural fields of Ukraine are tremendous. It is often called the bread basket of Europe. We know that if we can go over there and help them with infrastructure, transportation, genetics, and new farming technologies, they will be even more prosperous and more successful. It would enable people to farm their own land and generate wealth for their own families.

This is a key catalyst in making sure that we have a response in Ukraine as Ukrainians aspire to be more westernized, to have closer ties with us here in North America and particularly with the European Union, and to get out of the sphere of influence, which they have been living under for far too long, of Moscow and the Kremlin.

I also have to acknowledge the leadership we saw from former prime minister Stephen Harper. It was an amazing demonstration of Canada's commitment to Ukraine in his numerous trips there. From the time of the maidan, the revolution of dignity, that took place on the streets, to the time he left the Prime Minister's office, former prime minister Harper was there four times. He was also there before that, in 2010, when we went over for early discussions with the Yanukovych regime. We were trying to make sure Ukraine embraced the west rather than returning to the old corrupt Soviet ways and crawling into bed with Vladimir Putin.

It was former prime minister Stephen Harper who really led the charge on making sure we supported the new president and the young democracy, that we had this trade deal, and that we were supporting them with their defence needs and providing non-kinetic military equipment. It was under his lead that we continued to isolate Russia on the world stage. It was under his leadership that we started to sanction hundreds of Russians and Ukrainians and organizations that were part of the whole process of destabilizing Ukraine with Russian aggression and the invasion of Crimea and Donbas. It was the former prime minister who said we were going to share RADARSAT satellite images with our friends in Ukraine so they could see the activity of Russia, as well as Russian proxies, taking place in Donbas and along its borders.

The former prime minister led on that front, and he was not scared to stand up to Vladimir Putin at the G20 talks in Brisbane, Australia. He told Vladimir Putin that he had to get out of Ukraine. When the Russian president said that he was not in Ukraine, former prime minister Harper told him there was nothing to talk about, and he turned on his heel and walked away. That is leadership. That is being principled. That is why we need to continue in that vein.

While I appreciate all the support from members of Parliament from all parties for the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement, let us make sure we do not forget its other needs.

Operation UNIFIER is coming to an end in March. We have to make sure that the government provides recommendations as well as a mandate to the Canadian Armed Forces to continue the training mission in western Ukraine. They have to support Ukraine's troops to ensure that they are getting up to NATO standards so they can get closer to NATO integration but also so they are more capable of dealing with the Russians as they fight in Donbas.

We also need to sign the defence co-operation agreement we had negotiated as the government. It has not been signed yet by the Liberal government. We have to sign that deal so we can more closely align ourselves and work with the Ukrainian armed forces in their battle.

We have to look at things like visas. As we are going to have a free trade agreement, we need to simplify the process so that people from Ukraine can come here to do business. We need a youth mobility agreement so that young people can come here. Many of us have experience with the Ukrainian interns in our offices, who are just amazing individuals. They are going to change that country in the next generation.

We also have to make sure that we continue to isolate Russia and Vladimir Putin, not normalize that relationship, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs wants to do. Any time we try to normalize, any time we try to engage, any time we try to reset the relationship with Russia, Putin sees that as a sign of weakness. Every time we do that, he tries to expand his aggression in Ukraine or elsewhere, as we are witnessing right now in Syria, especially with the humanitarian crisis and devastation taking place in Aleppo.

Finally, tonight we are voting on Bill C-306, the Crimean Tatar deportation memorial day act, also known as Sürgünlik. The Crimean Tatars have always been ostracized. A genocide was committed against them in 1944. In Crimea today we are witnessing the Russian Federation arresting them, taking away their freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. This is an opportunity for us to recognize past genocides.

I encourage members of the House to vote in favour of Bill C-306, brought forward by our colleague, the member for Edmonton Griesbach, so we can show that the House stands united with Ukraine.

Finally, to wrap up, I want to send the member for Abbotsford, who was the trade minister, my best wishes. As all of us know, he has had a bit of a health scare. I know he is sitting at home watching and wishing he was here. We want to wish him a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and our prayers are with him.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members’ Business

December 7th, 2016 / 6:10 p.m.
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Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue the debate on my bill, Bill C-306, the Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day Act. I appreciate my colleagues' contributions to this debate, and I am grateful to hear statements of support from all corners of the House.

I would like to address a request from the member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

I ask the House for unanimous consent to table this document. It is the “State Defence Committee Decree No. 5859ss”, dated May 11, 1944, at the Moscow Kremlin. This decree sent the Crimean Tatars into exile. There can be no more damning evidence than the evil nature of this document.

Seven days after Josef Stalin signed this order, the indigenous people of Crimea were rounded up and deported en masse to Central Asia. At the stroke of his pen, Stalin dispatched more than 200,000 people to what historian Robert Conquest called the “human dumping grounds”. In the 1960s, Conquest was among the first western historians to study the deportations. With the full story still deeply hidden behind the Iron Curtain, he began portraying these events as genocide.

Within the Soviet Union itself, a few brave dissidents drew similar conclusions. Petro Grigorenko, a former Red Army general turned activist, told a gathering of exiled Crimean Tatars, “What was done to you in 1944 has a name. It was genocide”. For saying that, General Grigorenko spent five years in a psychiatric hospital and then was exiled.

As historians delved deeper into the broad question of ethnic cleansing and genocide, the deportations of 1944 were often considered a prime example.

Norman Naimark, a Stanford University historian, agreed, calling the 1944 deportations an “attempted cultural genocide”.

Brian Glyn Williams, a professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, also calls it genocide. He is the author of the most comprehensive academic history of the Crimean Tatars.

This brings me to the arguments made by some government members, among them the member for Winnipeg North. In particular, during the first hour, he argued that Canada should let an international body make our decisions for us. He said that members of this House should not exercise their own judgment when we consider events of the past.

This is not Canada's historical position. In 2008, all members of the House came together to declare the Holodomor in Ukraine a genocide. Indeed, the member for Winnipeg North invoked the Holodomor as he fought efforts to recognize the injustice done to the Crimean Tatars. Had we applied this new logic, we would not have recognized Holodomor as a genocide. There is ample historical evidence, expert research, and survivor testimony to justify this recognition, yet no international court or body has bothered to do so. Instead, Canada joined Ukraine and a growing number of other countries and jurisdictions in using our own judgment to draw conclusions from the available evidence.

That is what I am asking the House to do for the Crimean Tatars. The call to defer to non-existent international investigations is a legal smokescreen. Members should not sacrifice their own judgment to this ahistorical, un-Canadian position. The many letters of support I have received show that Canadians want us to speak up for Crimea and Ukraine.

I would like to thank the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, and the Ukrainian Youth Association. Since we last met, they have added their voices to the many groups and people supporting the bill.

Canadians cherish the close friendship between Canada and Ukraine. They understand that the fate of the Crimean Tatars is closely linked to the fate of all Ukraine, and they know that Canada has a critical role to play in support of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars as they fight for the freedom and sovereignty of their country.

Colleagues, in this spirit, I ask for support for my bill at second reading.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members’ Business

December 7th, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
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Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak today in support of my colleague from Edmonton Griesbach and his bill, Bill C-306. This is an act to establish a memorial day to honour victims of the Crimean Tatar deportation, the Sürgünlik, and to recognize the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 as an act of genocide. As my colleague stated when he tabled Bill C-306 in September, “The bill condemns a very dark chapter in history and takes a principled stand in support of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law”.

Some of my colleagues have wondered out loud, respectfully, why we in this House should create another day that memorializes a tragic chapter of history of which most Canadians are unaware, a tragedy commonly overlooked and lost among more powerfully documented and commemorated horrors and crimes against humanity that occurred during the Second World War. My answer to those who ask is that it is from the detail of history that societies learn the essentials of humanity and how to avoid repetition of such horrors today and in the future.

To those who question the relevance of another memorial day, asking how many Canadians of Tatar descent live among us, I answer, not many. Officially, according to the last census, there are fewer than 3,000. In fact, the numbers may be somewhat larger, given that many descendants of survivors of the Tatar genocide are incorrectly considered to be Russian. Whether 3,000 or more, the strength of this wonderful, diverse country is drawn from our community of communities, large and small, and respect among them for the histories, the trials and tribulations, and the stories of survival, of cruelty, and of gross inhumanity.

The Tatar people were, back in the 13th century, a dominant population in Crimea, a powerful trading crossroads of the Mongol Empire, later falling under control of the Ottoman Empire. From the 18th century, Catherine the Great annexed the Crimean peninsula as part of her vast expansion of the Russian Empire. During the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Crimea was the last holdout of the White Army.

The Crimean Tatars were not spared the horrors of the Holodomor, Stalin's man-made famine in the early 1930s that resulted in the deaths of millions of Ukrainians. In 2008, as members know, Canada became the first country to officially recognize the Holodomor as genocide.

That brings us to the Crimean genocide. During World War II, after the Nazi army invaded the Crimean peninsula, thousands of Tatars were conscripted into the German army, along with Russians and Ukrainians. When the Germans were expelled from Crimea in 1944, the Russians took vengeance on the forced collaboration, even though many more Tatars had fought on the Russian side, a number of them awarded Hero of the Soviet Union medals. Nonetheless, Stalin declared the entire Tatar nation, including non-combatants, women, children, and thousands of men still fighting in the ranks of the Red Army, izmeniky rodina, traitors of the motherland.

Then, on May 18, 1944, Soviet Red Army troops and soldiers from the dreaded NKVD, Stalin's secret police, surrounded the tiny Tatar communities, hamlets really, in the south Crimean mountains and on the coast. They rounded up men, women, and children, shooting all who resisted, packed them onto train cattle cars, and transported them to destinations deep in Soviet central Asia. Many thousands died on that journey, their bodies simply dumped from the cars.

One massive group of deportees arrived in the desert Republic of Uzbekistan, where they were dumped and died by the thousands of starvation and exposure. Survivors remained in secret police labour camps until 1956, when Nikita Khrushchev opened the camps, allowing them to try to make their way home. Barely half of the Tatar people survived.

Tragically, when those who did survive arrived home, they found that their communities had been expropriated by Russians. They were denied resettlement and were dispersed around eastern Europe and other parts of the world.

However, this Tatar diaspora taught its children well, ensuring that future generations would know their true homeland. For a brief period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it seemed as though they would be able to return. Some 250,000 Crimean Tatars did return, and from hundreds of original squatter camps, new communities were built. Returning Tatars gradually came to compose at least 12% of Crimea's population.

Then came the Russian invasion and occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The Tatar legislature, the Mejlis, was banned, Russia calling it an extremist organization. So the centuries old Russian marginalization, persecution, and depression of Tatars continues today.

That brings us to the question of commemoration of the tragic, inhuman 1944 deportation. On November 12, 2015, the parliament of Ukraine recognized the 1944 mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars by the Soviet regime as a genocide. With this recognition, the Ukraine parliament established May 18 as an official day of commemoration.

Passage of Bill C-306 would similarly designate the 18th day of May each and every year as the Crimean Tatar deportation, or Sürgünlik, memorial day in Canada. The bill has been endorsed by a number of highly respected organizations. The League of Ukrainian Canadians, for example, says that the timing for passage of Bill C-306 could not be more appropriate. The league points out that while the Russian government is conducting purges today of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian patriots in occupied Crimea, the bill would send a strong message to Crimean Tatars living under occupation, that the world, that Canada, has not forgotten them.

The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people writing to the sponsor of the bill, the member for Edmonton Griesbach, says that this is yet another way for Canada to determine its solidarity with Ukraine and its people and, when passed, the bill will create a precedent in the western world and hopefully be taken up by other countries.

The League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, in a letter of endorsement for Bill C-306 wrote, “By recognizing the deportation of Crimean Tatars as an act of genocide, the Parliament of Canada would show its continuing leadership in defence of human rights and the protection of indigenous people”.

The letter continues, “The present-day regime of Vladimir Putin aims to punish Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainian compatriots for their principled position and non-recognition of the occupation”.

The letter concludes, saying, “ on Members of Parliament from both sides of the aisle to take a principled position and support the bill in the name of recognizing the wrongdoings of the past to prevent their repetition in the future”.

That says it all. I would urge all members of the House to support this worthy bill, Bill C-306.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members’ Business

December 7th, 2016 / 5:45 p.m.
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West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.


Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-306, an act that seeks to recognize the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars by Soviet authorities in 1944 as an act of genocide and also to establish a Crimean Tatar memorial day.

The deportation of the Crimean Tatars was a great tragedy. In the span of a few days, families were taken forcibly from their homes. They were forced to leave the land they loved and they were supposed to try to settle in areas foreign to them. Many perished. For decades, Crimean Tatars were not allowed to return home, as my hon. colleague has just said.

This government has recognized this tragedy in the past and supports the intent of the bill to create a memorial day to not only commemorate the suffering of the Crimean Tatars but also to inspire us as we honour the indomitable will and resilience of Crimea's Tatars.

Despite the myriad of horrors inflicted upon them, they persevere, their culture thrives, and Canada is enriched by Crimean Tatars who call Canada home.

However, the government does not support this legislation. The government agrees that the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars by Soviet authorities was a tragedy in the deepest sense of the word. What Stalin did to these people was horrific.

We recognize the appalling loss of life and tremendous suffering that was endured as hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children were deported from their ancestral homeland in Crimea.

The preamble to the bill suggests that the forced relocation of the Tatars of Crimea was an act of genocide. Theft, deportation, and death were horrors inflicted upon the Crimean Tatars in 1944 at the hands of Stalin. This was a crime against humanity. Crime against humanity has a specific meaning and as articulated in 2002 with the creation of the International Criminal Court. I will read part of the definition that the International Criminal Court in its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, used for crimes against humanity:

For the purpose of this Statute, ‘crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) Murder; (b) Extermination; Enslavement; (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;...

It is clear that what happened to the Crimean Tatars constitutes a crime against humanity.

In 1989, the U.S.S.R. recognized that the deportations were a grave offence contradicting the foundations of international law.

The term “crime against humanity” is a powerful term and one that should not be used lightly. I am using it this evening because the suffering inflicted upon the Crimean Tatars was just that. However, where a crime against humanity recognizes the existence of mass atrocity, genocide requires that the mass atrocity be deliberately perpetrated not only to remove, but to deliberately destroy a group of people.

The test for genocide in international law is a high one. The crime of genocide was established through the genocide convention that was adopted in 1948 and entered into force in 1951.

Under the convention, it is not enough to establish that mass expulsions of civilians took place. Rather, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that such atrocities were perpetrated as part of a campaign to destroy in whole or in part an identifiable national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. This is a high threshold.

Canada has recognized six genocides to date: the Armenian genocide, the Ukrainian famine, the Holocaust, all predate the genocide convention. The Rwandan genocide, the Srebrenica massacre, and the genocide against the Yazidis of Sinjar in Iraq all occurred after the genocide convention was adopted.

In all three of the latter cases there was recourse to an internationally recognized investigation or a judicial decision in which determination of genocide was ultimately made.

The Rwandan genocide was recognized by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The Srebrenica massacre was recognized by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The genocide committed against the Yazidis of Sinjar in Iraq was recognized by the United Nations independent inquiry on Syria.

In the case of historical genocides, we do not have recourse to the courts but instead must rely on other sources. In the case of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, Ukraine is the only country to have formally recognized the event as genocide, having done so just last year. No other state or multilateral organization, including the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the European Parliament, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has recognized the deportation as genocide.

Beyond the lack of international recognition, there is a lack of historical consensus. The majority of historians do not believe Stalin intended to destroy the Crimean Tatars because they were Crimean Tatars, despite the horror they suffered.

Most historians do not label this tragedy a genocide. This absence of international recognition or historical consensus informs our view. Rigorous determination, in this case by historians, should be the basis for deciding whether genocide occurred. By doing so, we ensure that the word maintains its ability to convey the horror it represents.

Guided by the objectives of honouring Crimean Tatars, and preserving the integrity of the meaning of the term genocide, it is the position of this government that Bill C-306 be opposed at second reading. Nevertheless, I want to underline that this government is committed to remembering the tragedy of the forced deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944. We mark the 72nd anniversary of the deportation on May 18 of this year, and we will continue to commemorate the anniversary of this terrible event. This approach respects the integrity of the definition of genocide, and the historical memory of the Crimean Tatars.

Let me again reiterate that the 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars was a crime against humanity and that this government agrees with the intent of the bill to create a memorial day. We do not support the use of the word genocide in this case. We must not recognize genocide without appropriate rigour. That rigour protects the legacy of all victims of genocide. As such, this government votes against this bill, and we ask our fellow parliamentarians to join us.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members’ Business

December 7th, 2016 / 5:40 p.m.
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Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am also rising to speak to Bill C-306, an act to establish a Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day, tabled by the member for Edmonton Griesbach.

On this aspect of the bill proposing recognition of the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars and the ongoing atrocities perpetrated against them, I believe the member will find considerable support.

Ukraine has passed such a bill, memorializing that date of the atrocities and the removal of the Crimean Tatars.

Stalin's forced expulsion of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 was among the more heinous crimes against humanity committed during a century littered with atrocities. The entire Crimean Tatar people, the indigenous people of Crimea, were exiled to the Soviet east in 1944 by the totalitarian regime of Joseph Stalin.

Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children were forcibly and violently deported. Almost half lost their lives during the first year of exile, for no crime other than their language, culture, and traditions. Most reprehensibly, the women and children were separated from the men, and the men forced to fight in the Stalin forces.

The vast majority of those remaining in the Tatar community returned home to Crimea from exile in the early 1990s. This was largely due to the welcoming policy of the government of independent Ukraine. It is for this reason that the Crimean Tatars and their political and civic institutions are fiercely loyal to Ukraine. Today again, the Tatar people are living in fear as they have again been exiled, this time by Putin.

Little mention is made currently of the Russian Federation's illegal annexation of the Crimea in 2014. Crimean Tatars almost uniformly opposed the Russian Federation's annexation of the Crimea in 2014.

According to Amnesty International, Crimean Tatars have faced repressive measures, from media outlets being shuttered to activists being arrested and “disappeared”. Tatars have been forbidden to publicly commemorate the day of remembrance of the last deportation.

Last month Russia banned the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar assembly, accusing it of extremism. As a result, anyone involved in one of the more than 250 local Mejlises across Crimea now risks arrest. They either live in fear in Crimea or they are living in fear on the borders of Crimea, their original territories.

According to eastern European scholar Anssi Kullberg, many historians believe that the true motivation behind the genocide of Crimean Tatars was the geopolitical location of the Crimea seen by the Soviets as an obstacle and bridgehead in the way of Stalin's aspirations to gain control of the Turkish Straits and Constantinople, and now, in modern times, we are seeing the same, with Russia wanting to claim Crimea.

The systematic erasure of the Crimean Tatars was holistic in nature with even Crimean Tatar place names changed to Soviet ones; mosques converted into movie theatres, or worse; homes, livestock, and gardens seized; and mention of Crimean Tatars was deleted or abbreviated in reference works. In other words, they were erased.

Crimean Tatars were forbidden to reside in, or speak of, their homeland. It was not even possible to preserve a Crimean Tatar identity in personal documents.

The decision by Russia to again suspend the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people and ban all its activities essentially denies the Crimean Tatar community the right to freedom of association and therefore denial of their basic human rights.

In November 2015, Ukraine's Parliament recognized this crime as an act of genocide against the Crimean Tatar people, and established May 18 as the Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar People.

According to Paul Grod, National President of the UCC:

Today, the indigenous Crimean Tatars, together with the Ukrainian people and other ethnic and religious minorities living in Crimea, face severe repression by their Russian occupiers. It is vital for all members of Canada's Parliament to support this important legislation and to ensure that Canada continues to take concrete actions to oppose Russia's illegal occupation and annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Only last year I had the honour of standing alongside representatives of all the main parties in this chamber, all expressing support to the stalwart leader of the Crimean Tatars, member of parliament, Mustafa Dzhemilev. It is critical that we deliver on those words and lend support to their long-standing struggle for recognition of their human rights.

I support this legislation going to committee and for consideration of potential amendments. There are some concerns with the name of the bill and the preamble.

It is my hope that perhaps more might be done, rather than just naming a memorial day, to enable them to live in peace as a community.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members’ Business

December 7th, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
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Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my Conservative colleague from Edmonton Griesbach for introducing this bill. I am very pleased to take part in this second hour of debate. I also thank him for introducing Bill C-306, establishing a Crimean Tatar Deportation Memorial Day and recognizing the mass deportation of 200,000 Crimean Tatars in 1994 as an act of genocide.

On November 12, 2015, the Ukrainian parliament recognized the mass deportation of the Tatars in 1944 as a genocide, and that this people's return only became possible with the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991. The Ukrainian parliament also designated May 18 as an official day of commemoration of this genocide and the mass deportation of the Tatars. It has also been urging other nations and international organizations to do the same.

As a Polish Canadian, in fact born in Poland, I am very familiar with the many crimes of the Soviet regime and of the communists in the land of my birth and in central Europe as well. Millions were victims of various communist regimes, among these the Crimean Tatars. The forced deportation of thousands of Tatars resulted in death by starvation, disease and multiple acts of violence targeting the community that were committed by the Soviet regime.

This bill from the member for Edmonton Griesbach does not create a new legal holiday or non-juridical day. It is simply a special day for Canadians of Tatar origin to commemorate an important event in their family and community history.

This bill has the support of Mustafa Abduldzhemil Dzhemilev, the former chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament since 1988, and a former Soviet dissident. This bill also has the support of Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and a long-time Ukrainian parliamentarian. The Canadian Association of Crimean Tatars, the League of Ukrainian Canadians, and the International Council in Support of Ukraine also support this bill. Many communities in Canada and around the world support the member for Edmonton Griesbach's bill.

Tatar historian and dissident Ayshe Seitmuratova also supports this bill. She is a legend in the community because she was part of the effort to document this crime. She described how her brothers and her parents were forced onto Soviet trains in their pyjamas in the winter. The Crimean Tatars called those trains crematoria on wheels. Historian Ayshe Seitmuratova also described how Russian guards tossed many dead and dying people from the trains.

Half of these Crimean Tatars died of disease or starvation during their first years in exile. Their descendants and the survivors were not permitted to return to their homelands until the 1980s.

Very few archives, books or even mosques survived the atrocities of the Soviet troops, as they destroyed many historical and cultural sites. Today there are very few survivors of this genocide left. The history of this crime of 1944 has been passed down to future generations through the spoken word, stories, Tatar poetry and songs.

As for the question or doubt about this Soviet crime of forcing the mass deportation of Tatars, article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide reads as follows:

...genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

A list follows:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

As we can see, according to this definition, this was indeed a genocide committed by the Soviet forces, by the Soviet government against the Crimean Tatars.

The crime of the Holodomor, the recent invasion by Russian military forces, and the illegal occupation of Crimea, as well as the massive deportation of Tatars in 1944, are all part of the Soviet pattern of behaviour we are seeing today in the Russian Federation whereby only force matters.

In our debates in the House on countless parliamentary initiatives, we often talk about creating commemorative days, weeks, or months to recognize various groups in Canada. Adding one for Crimean Tatars would be most appropriate, considering the events that are unfolding in Ukraine today and that have taken place in Crimea in the past.

Recognizing this genocide and the forced deportations will greatly improve relations with the Crimean Tatar community and enrich Canadian cultural diversity by recognizing a part of history that had a huge impact on that community and its heritage.

The Russian government is currently occupying traditional Crimean Tatar territory, Tatar activists have disappeared, and Russian authorities have shut down Tatar media outlets. The oppression and discrimination against this population continues. The Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis, Ilmi Umerov, was imprisoned in a psychiatric institution by Russian authorities. Only after intense international pressure from major western nations was he eventually released.

Crimean Tatar media outlets have been closed, including the ATR TV network. Tatar language schools have been shuttered, as well as Mosques, and most of those associated with either have been imprisoned. Gatherings to remember the 1944 deportations, on memorial days for example, have been banned in every year of the Russian occupation of Crimea. These acts of marginalization are intensifying and mirror the events of 1944.

The Sürgünlik is a genocide and another crime committed by Soviet authorities. A memorial day is a friendly gesture that we can offer to ensure that these events are not forgotten over time.

I want to commend the leadership of the hon. member for Edmonton Griesbach, whose efforts made this initiative possible. I urge all members to vote in favour of this bill introduced by that member.

The term sürgün, which is part of the word Sürgünlik, is used by Crimean Tatars to denote the deportation itself. This Turkish term also translates as “expulsion” and “exile”. By extension, sürgün also means “violent expulsion” and “prolonged exile”. Since 1944, this has been an important part of community life for Crimean Tatars and, as such, and important part of their identity.

Many Canadian associations support this bill, as well as Rustem Irsay, president of the Canadian Association of Crimean Tatars, and Orest Steciw, of the League of Ukrainian Canadians. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress and its president, Paul Grod, as well as Moustafa Djemilev, member of the Ukrainian parliament and commissioner of the president of Ukraine for the affairs of Crimean Tatars, also supports it. Everyone agrees that this important bill should receive the support of Parliament.

Prior to today's debate, I was honoured to meet Garry Kasparov, a civic leader who opposes the regime of the Russian president. He is also the president of the Human rights Foundation and a political expert at Oxford Martin School. He is also known as the 13th world chess champion.

He reminded me that history tells us that we must never forget the acts perpetrated by the Soviet Union against the people of the region. Russian propaganda against the Crimean Tatars will erase the historical facts and the Tatars ties to their ancestral lands by spreading disinformation. As the saying goes, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

This memorial day will be part of the international effort to counter Russian propaganda, which seeks to rewrite this region's history and wipe out every trace of Crimean Tatars. We must not let them.

The House resumed from November 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-306, An Act to establish a Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day and to recognize the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 as an act of genocide, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2016 / 2:15 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak. On this particular issue, there is a great deal of willingness to attempt to understand the situation. For me personally as someone who comes from Winnipeg, I appreciate that we have the Canadian Museum for Human Rights there. If members have the opportunity to visit this facility, they would see that the issue of genocide and a multitude of different types of human rights are well displayed. It is quickly becoming a world-class museum. It is one of the jewels that we have in Canada and it happens to be located, as a national museum, in the city of Winnipeg.

On issues of this nature, I can assure all members of the House and Canadians that we have a government that is truly listening and will continue to do so.

I rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-306,, an act to establish a Crimean Tatar deportation Sürgünlik memorial day.

On May 18 of every year, people around the world are reminded of the widespread suffering and exile inflicted on the Crimean Tatar population by the Soviet Union. Soviet oppression included the curtailment of Tatar cultural rights, the outright persecution of their intellectual class, and the deaths of thousands of Crimean Tatars as a result of sweeping purges and the collectivization of agriculture.

As a part of the widespread deportation that took place throughout the Soviet Union in the 1940s, the entire Crimean Tatar population, representing one-fifth of the entire population of Crimea, was forcibly expelled from the peninsula in 1944.

The deportation was undertaken as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. Despite the fact that tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars had served in the Red Army and fought bravely against the Nazi occupation, in the three-day period between May 18 to 20, over 200,000 Crimean Tatars were given a mere 30 minutes to gather their loves ones and possessions before being loaded onto cattle cars, headed for central Asia, Siberia, and the Urals.

Tens of thousands would die en route, never to see their homes again. Those who survived the journey were faced with the prospects of forced labour, squalid living conditions, disease, and starvation as they began their new lives in these remote settings.

Owing to these conditions, large numbers of the Crimean Tatar population died both during transport and within the five years that immediately followed their resettlement. The great loss of life, disruption to their culture, and the denial of their return home was an atrocity that this government rightly condemns, and that we must never forget.

Somehow, exiled Crimean Tatars managed to build a life, but it was never complete, because it was culturally, spiritually, and emotionally disconnected from their homeland. Home remained Crimea and it remained as such in their hearts and minds, creating a renewed sense of national identity among the Crimean Tatars from their deep-seated connection to the Crimean peninsula.

In 1989, after nearly five decades, Crimean Tatars were finally allowed to return to their homeland, but the scars remain.

Stalin's actions in Crimea were an affront to the common human values we all share, the fundamental right to live free from persecution and to chart our own path in the world. These fundamental freedoms were denied to many, but few more brutally than the Crimean Tatars.

The world must never forget the tragedy that befell the Crimean Tatar population. That is why this government commemorated this day on May 18, 2016.

We fully support the creation of a memorial day for the Crimean Tatars. By recognizing this day, Canada pays tribute to the Crimean Tatars. We are reminded of the horrors they suffered, but also inspired by the indomitable will and the resilience they have demonstrated. Despite the unimaginable burdens inflicted, they persevered, and while they carry the burden of the past with them, they stand tall today and their culture thrives. They are unbroken, a people who demonstrate humanity's fortitude. They are an inspiration for all of us.

By acknowledging their tragedy, we also are reminded of the values we must fight to protect, the values robbed from them under the Soviet regime. Of particular note is respect for justice, and the need for rule of law. In a world where these values are increasingly under attack, they demand our protection. The only way we can deliver justice is to follow the very best standards of it. That is how we honour those who were viciously denied justice and how we demonstrate to today's despots our convictions, our principles, and our will.

Therefore, we must remember that when we look at the bill before us now, of course it is easy to issue a political declaration, but politicizing justice is not the answer, and it is not the Canadian way. Justice is not served when we presume to prejudge the outcome of a necessary and eventual investigative and judicial process. The victims of the Crimean Tatar deportation and their families deserve what was robbed from them, and that starts with the rule of law.

While we have various pieces of this tragedy, no independent international investigation has taken place into the events of 1944. The legal test to be met for genocide in international law is a high one and we support an investigation and the collection of evidence toward that determination. However, if we prejudge it now, we undermine the law. We can help repair what was taken only if we follow the legal path that was denied, which includes proving beyond a reasonable doubt that such atrocities were perpetrated as part of a campaign to destroy, in whole or in part, an identifiable national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.

We therefore take seriously the need to rely on factual historical evidence and expert determination on whether the deportation of Crimean Tatars meets the threshold for genocide as laid out in the 1948 genocide convention. For this reason, Canada, like our international partners, including the United States and the European Union, has opted over the years to mark this anniversary through official statements on the forced deportation.

Our government is committed to remembering this historical tragedy, and to protecting the rule of law. That is why when it comes to genocide, our government has sought the most rigorous application of the term according to the law. Horrifying situations such as this require a strong memorial and a testament to what was endured. Canada will do that. However, it is not for politicians, even with the best intentions, to change what is a uniquely legal term such as genocide.

Surviving Tatars and their families deserve the due diligence of a thorough investigation, done by an independent body. That is the proper way to make a determination of genocide. This approach is respectful both in preserving the integrity of the legal definition of genocide and to the historical memory and tragedy of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars.

Meanwhile, our government does not lose sight of the ongoing challenges facing the present day community of Crimean Tatars and of the responsibility of the international community, including Canada, to act in this regard.

Like the member opposite, I have had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine over the last little while, and one of the most touching moments I experienced was when I was in the city of Kiev and had a tour of the Holodomor museum. That is an issue I raised shortly after first being elected as the member of Parliament for Winnipeg North. I understand deeply why Canadians as a whole look abroad at some of the horrific actions that have been taken and made by governments.

I believe Canadians, as a whole, want a government that follows the rule of law, to make sure that what we are doing is right and just. We understand many of the things that have taken place and the importance of investigations. We understand there is a need to act. There is a little girl in front of the Holodomor museum in Kiev, and I am pleased that a replica of it is now in front of the Manitoba legislature.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2016 / 2:05 p.m.
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James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure and an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-306. I have to thank my colleague, the member for Edmonton Griesbach for his hard work and research on the bill, and for the hard work that he has done with the Tatar community across Canada, and indeed even in Crimea.

It is unfortunate that these horrific events have occurred in history, but I think it is the responsibility of us as parliamentarians today to recognize these human rights abuses, to recognize these genocides, and to commit ourselves as parliamentarians to making sure that we are on the record in condemning those actions.

One of the greatest speakers to ever grace a Westminster parliament was Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

What we are doing in Bill C-306 today is looking at the atrocities that were committed and perpetrated by Joseph Stalin, NKVD, the Soviet Union, and all of their thugs in orchestrating this genocide against the Crimean people, but also relating it to how history is repeating itself today in the Crimean peninsula under the leadership of Vladimir Putin as he tries to systematically degrade and reduce the ethnicity of the indigenous people of Crimea, the Tatars.

I have had many opportunities to travel to Ukraine. I have had many opportunities to meet these great people, here in Canada and in Ukraine. The Tatars are just some of the gentlest, most beautiful people members could ever speak to. They represent no threat to anyone. They cherish what they have, yet through history, especially under Russian and Soviet rule, have been targeted and murdered through various acts carried out by Russia or the Soviet Union.

If we just want to look at what happened under Joseph Stalin and his Communist regime, it does not only include what happened in 1944. Shortly after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviets denounced and refused to recognize the independent Republic of Crimea, of the Tatars. They then went out of their way to start using food as a weapon.

I am quite proud of the fact that this Parliament unanimously supported my private member's bill in 2008 to recognize the famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine and other areas of the Soviet Union, the Holodomor, as a genocide, and that we would have the last Saturday of every November as the national Holodomor Memorial Day.

It is very important that we recognize the fact that there was more than just the famine of 1932-33. There was the famine of 1920-21, 1932-33, and there was another one that was conducted around 1954. In the first two cases, the Holodomor of 1920-21 and 1932-33, the Crimean Tatars were targeted. They suffered greatly. In the Holodomor of 1932-33, where we saw roughly seven million people in and around Ukraine starve to death in about 15 months, what we witnessed on the peninsula and what has been clearly documented is that half the Crimean Tatar population were starved to death.

Their homes were raided and invaded. All their food stocks, all their farming livestock, all their produce that they had, anything that they had canned or put into storage was taken out of their homes, out of their villages, and they were forced to starve to death. It was a forced famine.

Let us move on to where we are today, looking at what happened in 1944. The mass deportation occurred in a time span of two days, when 32,000 NKVD agents of the Soviet Union loaded up every man, woman, and child and confiscated all their property. They put them into cattle cars, onto trains, and onto barges and deported them to gulags in Uzbekistan. More than 100,000 of them, almost 50%, starved on that journey. The rest were forced to work in forced labour camps in the gulags in Uzbekistan.

By every definition, that constitutes a genocide. Historians have written about this as being ethnic cleansing. This was targeted against the indigenous people of Crimea. They were targeted based on their religion. As was already noted in speeches today, the Russians took over their mosques and converted them into theatres. They took all their homes and handed them over to those who were faithful to the Bolsheviks and the Communist empire. Ultimately, what we have is a genocide.

Raphael Lemkin, the individual who coined the term “genocide”, lived through and witnessed the Holocaust, where he lost 49 of his own family. He witnessed the Holodomor and spoke about the Holodomor at great length and the Russification of the Ukrainian people, which was exactly what was happening in Crimea. That helped inform his opinion on what constitutes a genocide.

Raphael Lemkin, who was a Russian subject before the Holocaust, got out of Poland and with some family members in Lithuania was able to get to Sweden, and ultimately to America.

In article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948, as authored by Lemkin, it says genocide is “killing”. There are different ways to look at it. It is being targeted because of one's “national, ethnical, racial, or religious group”.

We are talking about the Tatars. Their religion is Muslim. They were very much a minority based on their religion. Their ethnicity, being the indigenous people, was Tatar, and again, they were the minority in the region.

There are five main things.

Killing members of the group;

Well, they killed half of them.

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

Picking up everybody, throwing them onto trains and barges, and moving them to Uzbekistan is causing mental and physical harm, especially when they were starved along way and their physical conditions were greatly diminished.

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

That definitely was done by the Soviet Union.

There are two other parts, but as long as one of those five sections is met, and in this case, three out of the five are met, no one should question whether this was a genocide perpetrated by the Soviet Union.

We have to recognize the fact that history is repeating itself today in Crimea. What we see from Vladimir Putin and the Russian regime is a little more sensibility, as they have not gone out and just started shooting Tatars on the street, but many of them have actually had to leave the country, and as was mentioned, the leader of the Crimean people, Mustafa Dzhemilev, who is a member of parliament in Ukraine and who has been the president of the organization for the Crimeans there, has been forced into exile. We have seen that, also, with Refat Chubarov and other Crimean leaders.

The Russians went in and the first thing they did was shut down freedom of the press by shutting down the papers and radio stations. Then they shut down their political ability to work together at the Meijles, their parliament. That was closed. Then the Russians made sure that they could no longer even go to their mosques to gather.

There is no freedom of association, no freedom of political affiliation, and no freedom of religion.

We need to recognize that Vladimir Putin is trying, again, to repeat history. As Winston Churchill said, we have to make sure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. This is our opportunity to take a stand and make sure that we keep Russia in check and do not appease them. We have to stand up for the people of Crimea and the people of Ukraine.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2016 / 1:50 p.m.
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David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak to private members' Bill C-306, Crimean Tatar deportation, or “Sürgünlik”, memorial day act.

Let us take a moment to remember this tragedy. In 1944, Soviet authorities forced the deportation of a vast number of minorities throughout the Soviet Union. This bill seeks to acknowledge the staggering number of deaths and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars, forcibly removed from their homes on the Crimean Peninsula. This tragedy continues to haunt the collective memory of Crimean Tatars and further strengthens the attachment they still feel for their peninsula.

Canada strongly condemns the terrible discrimination and mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 under the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin. The Soviet regime committed an affront to Canadians by committing an affront to the common human values that we all share, namely the fundamental right to live free from persecution and to forge one's own path in the world.

These fundamental rights and freedoms have been denied to a great many people, but rarely as brutally as to the Crimean Tatars. A day to commemorate the massive deportations of Tatars from the Crimean Peninsula to central Asia would raise awareness of a dark chapter in the history of humanity and give a voice to those who were killed during this terrible tragedy. That is why our government commemorated this day on May 19, 2016. We fully support designating a memorial day in honour of the Crimean Tatars.

History can guide our future endeavours. The tragedy of the Crimean Tatars underscores an important principle articulated by Lord Acton, who said, “A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its minorities.”

Canada is a great nation, a free nation, and its greatness is due in part to its Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which enshrines in law the protection of minority rights. As stated in subsection 15(1) of the charter:

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.

This principle of equality and protection for all, or human rights, seems so obvious to Canadians. Unfortunately, that principle has been violated in the past, and is still being violated in parts of the world today.

We are gathered here today as parliamentarians because we want to make our communities, Canadian society, and the entire world a better place. When we look around the globe, we see that too many tragedies are still taking place, and it seems that the universal protection of human rights and recognition of the inalienable nature of each individual's rights are distant notions in some cases.

At any given moment, countless human beings around the world are being punished and tortured simply for their religious beliefs. They are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. They are abused because of their gender and killed because of the colour of their skin. Too many governments commit acts of hatred and refuse to acknowledge the humanity they share with others.

Here in Canada, we know that we are stronger because of our differences and not in spite of them. We know that we are all equal and that we have basic human rights. In light of that, it is up to all of us to make Canada a strong advocate for human rights.

This government is known for its strong, unwavering commitment to human rights. Now more than ever, there is a need for human rights advocates, and Canada is in a better position than most countries to lead this fight. This government is being proactive and working hard to defend and solidify Canada's position on international human rights. We are building a safer world that is more stable and prosperous by interacting with it rather than withdrawing from the fight.

I would like to give a few examples. Canada now seeks clemency for all Canadians facing execution abroad. If Canada does not fight to protect the lives of each of its citizens, then the government has failed in its basic duty to protect them.

We announced our intention to ratify the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Torture is a scourge that must be eliminated. It has been shown time and time again that this barbaric practice is not effective and produces false information. It serves no purpose except to inflict suffering.

We also created the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion, because human rights requires a comprehensive approach and because our outreach efforts produce better results when we stand up for all rights abroad by combining all of our voices and skills.

We gave all of our heads of missions abroad the objective of defending human rights and the tools to achieve it. Their mandate letters also reflect the need to promote and defend human rights. Their actions will inspire many people throughout the world.

We are putting in place a new government-wide strategy to address the crisis in Iraq and Syria, which includes tripling the number of members in our training mission and investing $1.6 billion over three years in Iraq and the surrounding region. It should be noted that we have pledged $158 million of this amount to humanitarian work and support for stabilization in Iraq.

Daesh is a perversion of Islam, a vessel brimming with hate, and an affront to the entire world; together with our allies, we will fight this monstrosity. We are supporting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with new base funding of $15 million a year over the next three years.

We also reaffirmed our commitment to the empowerment of women by providing $16.3 million to women in the Middle East and North Africa. The world cannot be a just place when half the population does not have equal opportunity.

Thanks to the concerted efforts it is making right now, our government is getting results. We are making an important contribution. By focusing on promoting human rights and ensuring the rule of law and justice, Canada is paying tribute to the legacy of Crimean Tatars, a brave and resilient people whose strength of character is an example for everyone.

We must never forget their suffering and we must continue to commemorate May 18. However, it is not good enough just to reflect on this tragedy; we must take action. By promoting human rights, Canada is trying to prevent another tragedy such as this one from taking place in the future.