Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in Poland on December 13, 1981.
December 13 holds a particular significance to the Polish community. On this date the communist government in Poland declared martial law in an effort to quell the democratic Solidarity movement. This rule brought extreme hardship to many people who opposed the government. Many were interned or escaped from Poland.
The Canadian Polish Congress, the voice of over 650,000 Canadians of Polish descent, worked with the Government of Canada to create a special immigration category for Polish citizens affected by the sudden imposition of martial law. Canada's gesture was immensely important, showing that people persecuted for their belief in freedom could find refuge in this great country. Many arrived in Canada and have made a positive contribution to their new homeland.
As a result of the Solidarity movement in Poland, communism was later overthrown in all of Europe and the cold war came to an end.