Mr. Speaker, it is with both emotion and privilege that I stand here today as we table an act that would establish a national Holocaust memorial day throughout Canada.
The Holocaust, as we all know, is a unique tragedy in the history of humankind. The terrible genocide murdered six million innocent European Jews, including over a million children. Conducted in a frighteningly systemic way, the Holocaust is more than the worst crime against humanity: it stands as a testament to the evil of which mankind is capable and is a permanent reminder to our global conscience. As the philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
At the end of the second world war, the civilized world looked in horror at Nazi extermination camps and said, as we have heard, “Never again”.
To ensure that humanity does not repeat its follies, we must learn from our history and remember our past. A Holocaust memorial day would remind all Canadians of the horrors that should never be forgotten. It would remind our children and our children's children of the mistakes that we should never repeat. It would immortalize the millions lost and would permanently join Canada in solidarity with those who survived those atrocities. Finally, it would symbolize the suffering of all people imperilled by genocide, whether they are Jews, Armenians, Cambodians or Rwandans.
All ten Canadian provinces have already established remembrance days to commemorate the Holocaust. This historic act will be nationwide. It will be marked according to the Jewish lunar calendar on the 27th day of Nisan, a day that marks the beginning of the Jewish uprising in the infamous Warsaw ghetto and which falls in our month of April.
On behalf of my colleague, the hon. member for York Centre, who is presently in Asia and who is a co-sponsor of this multi-party bill, and on my own behalf, I wish to acknowledge the efforts of representatives from all political parties who are here today. With the passage of the bill, we will tell future generations that we have not forgotten.