Mr. Speaker, today Canadians of Latvian origin celebrate the 79th anniversary of their independence, and on November 11 Canadians of Polish origin celebrated theirs.
As the first member of Parliament of Baltic heritage, it gives me great pride to recognize these important dates.
It is an occasion to contemplate the rich traditions of these countries that serve as an inspiration for all who cherish the values of freedom and democracy.
In the aftermath of World War I, in 1918 the Republic of Latvia gained its independence and, at the same time, Poland regained its. However, this freedom was very shortlived. Under Soviet occupation it was lost. However, even a half century of totalitarian rule did not stifle the love of freedom and cultural heritage. In Poland it gave rise to solidarity.
In 1991, after the tragic killings in Vilnius and Riga, the Canadian government was the first to recognize the independence of—