Mr. Speaker, the coat of arms of Canada bears among its symbols the Royal Harp of Tara and the Shamrock of St. Patrick to recognize the outstanding contribution of the Irish people in the formation of our blessed nation.
The Irish began to arrive in a trickle as early as the 17th century in Newfoundland. That trickle became a river during the 18th and early 19th centuries. That river became a great flood of Irish refugees during the tragic years of the great famine in Ireland.
By the time of confederation in 1867 fully one-third of the people of Canada were of Irish origin, including the visionary Father of Confederation, Thomas D'Arcy McGee.
Today some four million Canadians are of Irish ancestry. Former prime ministers Lester B. Pearson, Louis St. Laurent and Brian Mulroney all shared Irish ancestry. Some 70 MPs in the House of Commons are of Irish ancestry, by far the largest cultural representation after French and English.
Today I wish the people of Canada and Ireland a very happy St. Patrick's Day.