Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago Canada and Poland belonged to opposing military blocs, deploying millions of troops on the two sides of the Berlin wall. Today in a ceremony in Independence, Missouri, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic will make their formal entry into NATO.
Ten years ago the obstacles Poland had to face in the dawn of the post-cold war era seemed insurmountable. Polish citizens had to virtually undo 40 years of history.
Poland is today a perfect example of a thriving and effective democracy. Poland is leading by example in the transformation to free markets among the emerging nations of eastern and central Europe.
Canada has long recognized the potential of the citizens of Poland. Poland is now our most important trading partner in central Europe. Two way trade between our two nations now stands at over $311 million annually, more than double what it was just six years ago.
The over 800,000 Canadians of Polish origin join me in welcoming Canada's newest ally. We commend this government for ensuring that Poland takes its place among the NATO group of nations.