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House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was history.

Topics

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Inky Mark Conservative Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I must thank the government members and committee members for taking a very broad approach to the bill. Certainly they easily could have defeated the bill in committee, but realizing that there are other issues following this redress issue that need to be resolved, there is no doubt that the way the bill has been crafted it certainly could become a template for other communities in Canada to follow. I certainly believe that if we pass the bill it will be used as a template down the road for other groups.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women and Minister responsible for Industry (Women Entrepreneurs)

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by thanking the hon. member for his bill and his cooperation at committee. We have been able to finally address a very important issue, an issue that struck at the hearts of all committee members. I want to thank him for his tremendous determination and hard work in this regard. I am so pleased to see that we are finally at third reading today.

Canada's experience with diversity distinguishes it from most other countries. Our 30 million inhabitants reflect a cultural, ethnic and linguistic makeup found nowhere else on the earth. Over 200,000 immigrants a year from all parts of the globe continue to choose Canada, drawn by its quality of life and its reputation as an open, peaceful and caring society that welcomes newcomers and indeed values diversity.

From Confederation through the boom years of immigration prior to World War I, to the inter-war years and the current post-war era, our immigration policy and legislation have helped to shape the Canada we have today. Over time, Canadian governments have reflected society's increasing willingness to accept differences within the population and specifically the legitimacy of the rights of minorities to maintain their culture and also their traditions. Throughout our history, there have, however, been instances of laws that would be considered regressive today.

In Canada, the years prior to World War I witnessed heavy immigration from eastern Europe. When war broke out, the country faced a serious problem: what to do with recent immigrants who were citizens of the countries with which Canada was at war.

The problem became quite acute in 1914 when German and Austro-Hungarian nationals resident in Canada were called upon by their respective governments to return home to honour their military draft obligations.

The War Measures Act of 1914 stated in section 6 that:

The Governor in Council may do and authorize such acts and things, and make from time to time such orders and regulations, as he may by reason of the existence of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection deem necessary or advisable for the security, defence, peace, order and welfare of Canada;... it is hereby declared that the powers of the Governor in Council shall extend to all matters coming within the classes of subjects hereinafter enumerated, that is to say....

Among other things were included “arrest, detention, exclusion and deportation” and “appropriation, control, forfeiture and disposition of property and of the use thereof”.

Under orders made pursuant to the War Measures Act, 8,579 people--civilians and prisoners of war--were interned in 26 camps across Canada during the first world war. The internees were composed of a mix of nationalities, including Turkish, Bulgarian, German and Austro-Hungarian. The largest number were from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, which included Croatians, Czechs, Poles, Serbians and other Europeans. The numbers also included perhaps 5,000 Ukrainians out of an estimated population of about 171,000 of Ukrainian origin in Canada at that time.

From the beginning, internees were treated as prisoners of war and, in keeping with the terms of the Hague convention, received the same standards of food, clothing and accommodations as Canadian soldiers. It is estimated that by the end of the war in 1918 there were only three internment camps remaining in operation. The last camp officially closed in February 1920.

Under the federal Office of the Custodian of Enemy Property, a claims process was adjudicated in the post-war period of World War I and World War II. The government had determined that after World War I some moneys went unclaimed from some internees of Austro-Hungarian empire descent, despite advertisements in mainstream and ethnocultural newspapers.

In 1976, convinced the vast majority of claims had been resolved, the Government of Canada closed this office. As the Hon. Sheila Finestone stated in the House of Commons in 1994:

--as Canadians we are proud that our citizens trace their origins to every part of the world. Together we have built this country on the principles of fairness, generosity and compassion. Our history records the remarkable success we have achieved by applying those principles.

Our history also records that at times we have strayed from them. There have been episodes that have caused suffering to people.

In the crisis atmosphere of war, some Canadian ethnocultural communities found their loyalty questioned, their freedom restrained and their lives disrupted.

Canadians wish those episodes had never happened. We wish those practices had never occurred.

Allow me to continue to quote:

We all share in the responsibility to learn from the past. The Government of Canada believes that our common obligation lies in preventing such situations from ever occurring again.

With that statement in the House, the government adopted a policy on historical redress, which, first, reaffirmed the uniqueness of the Japanese Canadian redress agreement; second, confirmed that no financial compensation would be awarded to individuals or communities for historical events; third, committed to a forward-looking agenda to ensure that such practices did not recur; and fourth, noted that limited and future federal resources would be used to create a more equitable society.

Indeed, the establishment of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation was a signal of federal commitment to eliminate racism and racial discrimination. In this regard, the foundation officially opened its doors in November 1997.

Canada in 2005 is a very different Canada. Tremendous steps have been taken toward making our country a better place. Beginning in 1950 with the report of the Massey-Lévesque commission, ethnocultural diversity gradually came to be understood as an essential ingredient in a distinct Canadian identity.

The Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960 recognized and declared that certain human rights and fundamental freedoms existed, without discrimination on the grounds of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex. In 1970, Canada ratified the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. As a party to the convention, Canada has undertaken to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms.

The Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 proclaimed that all individuals should have equal opportunity with others without being discriminated against on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.

In 1982, section 15 of the newly adopted Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms also recognized that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. Section 15 came into effect in 1985.

In addition, the multicultural character of Canada gained constitutional recognition in section 27 of the charter. It specified that the courts were to interpret the charter “in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians”. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988 affirmed multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic of Canadian society.

We have worked and will continue working with Ukrainian Canadians and other ethnocultural communities to document their history and experiences through a range of commemorative projects, including films, books and exhibits that enable them to tell their stories to other Canadians.

To conclude, I would again like to thank the member for his efforts and his hard work to ensure that the bill will become law. I strongly believe in the need to acknowledge and commemorate the historical events referred to in Bill C-331 as well as educate Canadians about these experiences. No matter how much we might wish to erase these events from the history of our country, today's government cannot, nor can we pay for restitution for historical actions without placing an undue burden on existing and future generations that are in no way responsible for these events.

The Ukrainian community has helped to shape the strong multicultural society we are today. I truly honour the contribution that individuals of Ukrainian descent have made in the building of Canada and I recognize that this contribution was made even in the face of dark moments and great hardship.

It is important that we find an acceptable way to highlight it and educate Canadians about this contribution. I am pleased that Bill C-331 offers us a way forward in doing just that. I encourage all members of the House to support it in its amended form.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec and Canada have been enriched by the men and women of all origins who take different paths to get here, bringing with them their traditions, customs and cultural baggage.

Between 1891 and 1914, Canada recruited agricultural immigrants from eastern Europe, inviting them to settle here and work the land in the Prairie provinces. Approximately 170,000 people immigrated to Canada before the first world war. We salute their contribution to the vitality of Quebec and Canada.

Unfortunately, there are dark days in Canadian history, when the government of the day interned people of Ukrainian origin because they were suspected of espionage and other illegal activities.

Agricultural immigrants got a decidedly colder welcome, particularly after the war broke out. In addition to being interned, Ukrainian immigrants lost their right to vote and the government confiscated their personal property.

In other words, we gave them land, the right to work and a place to live and then, without warning, we took it all away. They worked without pay on the development of Banff national park, in the forestry industry in northern Ontario and in Quebec, in the steel industry and the mines.

Today, the percentage of individuals arriving from different regions of the world continues to increase. This is excellent news, particularly since the latest waves of immigrants are highly educated graduates, who are emigrating in significantly higher numbers.

We are all expected to give them a warm welcome and to help them successfully integrate. We must ensure that they get their fair share of jobs and that they become full citizens as soon as possible.

This bill to render justice to Ukrainians and other Europeans from the former Austro-Hungarian empire who were incarcerated in internment camps during the first world war recognizes that Canada made serious mistakes and that immigration ministers implemented excessive measures.

We must remember what happened. Our collective memory will help us to ensure that we do not make these mistakes again.

During this session, I have spoken many times about citizenship and immigration. Immigration is not just about accountability, it is also about the men and women who want to help build Quebec and Canada. They expect to be treated in a just and equitable manner.

Before claiming victory, and knowing the many problems and inconsistencies in the current immigration policies, allow me again to emphasize to my colleagues in this House and invite them to reflect on the lot and the future of the people they receive. How would they like to be treated if they were in the same situation?

Early in my mandate, I met a great lady whose father is Chinese and mother is Ukrainian. Her father paid the infamous head tax required from Chinese persons and her mother had been unfairly targeted for many years because of immigration decisions that were made at the turn of the century.

She tried to hide her identity for a long time and I think that is very sad. There are many things people still do not know about Canada's history. I hope the steps Parliament is taking in various matters of this nature will comfort the communities concerned.

Bill C-331 has the support of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association. I want to commend and thank those who have supported this cause and worked so hard on it for the past 20 years.

We have heard that Canada respected its international commitments on the treatment of prisoners of war throughout this entire painful experience. We do not share the opinion that this is what they were. We have some serious reservations about why the camps continued to exist until 1920, when the war had ended a long time before. Taking refuge behind treaties and conventions does not, however, excuse the fact that these people were subjected to disgraceful treatment.

Other incidents have been the subject of demands for reparation, and some have been settled. Others are still in progress. To give some examples: the forced assimilation and abuse of aboriginal children in boarding schools from 1847 to 1985; the head tax and the exclusionary legislation on the Chinese from 1885 to 1946; the imprisonment of lepers on two islands off the coast of British Columbia from 1891 to 1956; the unfair treatment of Caribbean blacks from 1900 to 1932; the closing of Canada's borders to persons of Jewish origin between 1938 and 1948; the internment of Italian and German Canadians during the second world war; the internment of Japanese Canadians during and after the second world war, from 1942 to 1949; and, after 1949, the refusal to pay benefits to aboriginal war veterans.

The path to freedom for a people is never easy. For this reason, I will take advantage of this moment to affirm the support of the Bloc Québécois for all those who are defending their liberty and equality at this time.

Anyone wishing to learn more about this subject can consult the Internet site www.infoukes.com, where there are a number of photos and explanatory texts.

Immigration is an increasingly important phenomenon in our society. We must be equal to the ideals we defend. We must be capable of acknowledging errors so that history will not repeat itself.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to join in this debate on a very important issue that has been neglected for many years.

I would like to thank the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his perseverance on this issue and for all those who are now prepared to join in and support the passage of the bill to enact this long overdue measure. That is the issue at hand.

Can we as a Parliament put aside our differences? Can we put aside our normal process to ensure that Bill C-331 is actually enacted today?

It must be today because of the amount of time and energy that has been spent on this issue of recognition for a very deplorable time in our history when Ukrainians in Canada were interned because they were under suspicion during World War I.

All of my colleagues in the NDP caucus support the bill. I want to talk today a bit about not only the urgency but the fact that Ukrainian Canadians have contributed so much to our country. Yet, there has been so little done to deal with some very grievous chapters in the history of this country.

One is the internment of Ukrainian Canadians. The other ties into an important anniversary that we just commemorated this past week, and that is the 70th anniversary of the genocide and famine experienced by Ukrainians during the time of Stalin.

Both issues have been before the House. Both issues deserve action and both issues have been waiting for something to be done. There were lots of promises made, lots of attempts to advance the agenda on this, but to date there has been so little progress.

We all recall, leading up to the last election, how this issue that the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette had brought to our attention was going to be addressed by the then Minister of Canadian Heritage. There were great expectations on the part of the Ukrainian community that this would have been carried out and that this chapter in our history would have been dealt with. Unfortunately, we know what happened. The commitment made by the minister at the time was not kept by the government of the day and in fact, we are still trying to resolve this egregious chapter in our history.

On the question of the famine, I want to acknowledge the work of the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette and others who have tried to get this resolved. We still have not had a proper recognition of that tragedy in our history. I want to mention that in Winnipeg, as the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette and others know, great work is being done to get this sorry chapter in our history recognized as part of the new museum on human rights that we hope will be opened in the Forks.

My colleagues from Windsor, the members for Windsor—Tecumseh and Windsor West, have both been a part of a project in their city in establishing the first ever monument to recognize this sorry chapter in our history, that being the famine and genocide during the Stalinist regime. That monument was unveiled in a prominent part of Windsor, in Jackson Park. That has given a focal point for Ukrainians in Canada.

However, we need to do more and we certainly want to see the government recognize all across the country how this awful period in our history came about, and how we have to commit ourselves to prevent genocide and acts of hatred in the future.

With respect to Bill C-331, clearly, it is about recognition for this period in our history, the internment of Ukrainian Canadians. It is also about beginning a period of negotiation and discussion around restitution and settlement. There needs to be some proper recognition for the pain and suffering of individuals during this period of time involving the compensation for confiscated property, and the loss of dignity and wealth that was never returned.

Let us not only recognize this travesty, this sorry chapter in our history, but let us also put our minds and hearts at work to ensure that there is some sort of restitution for this terrible time in our history.

I want to recognize the work of the Ukrainian community in Winnipeg. My colleague the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette has done that and has received a lot of support from the Ukrainian Canadian community.

In particular, I want to reference the work that has been done by those who have told the stories and continue to tell the stories across the country. I would like to read for the record one such story that has been circulated to all of us. It was written by Pierre Pawliw. He wrote:

During World War I, my mother, Stephania Mielniczuk, at the age of 3 years was taken along with her parents to the internment camp located at Spirit Lake, in the Abitibi region of Quebec. She never talked about this while I was growing up. In fact, I only learned about it from my aunt that I visited in Poland in 1984. When I asked my mother why she never mentioned it, she told me it was on account that she thought that I, along with her other four children, would think she was some kind of foolish old woman.

What happened to my mother, and to countless other Ukrainians and people of eastern Europe is an integral part of Canada's history. We cannot brush it aside as distorted memories of foolish individuals. We must recognize what happened so that the individuals that labored in these camps be remembered as people who contributed to making Canada a great country.

Those words probably express better than all of the speeches in the House why we must act today, and why we must support the hard work of the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette. Those words express why we must stand together to honour the contribution of Ukrainian Canadians in this country. It has often been said that we cannot go forward until we remember the past. Here is a precise example of just that.

While we are all tidying up loose ends and complete some outstanding work of the House as we will likely proceed to an election in short order, I hope that we can actually take the little time that is necessary to ensure that all stages of Bill C-331 are completed today. I hope that we can put the final stamp of approval on this legislative initiative and ensure that Ukrainian Canadians remember this Parliament as one that stood up for recognition of their contribution to this country.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to rise in the House of Commons in a most historic moment. This is a moment when we are on the soon to be election trail, yet all sides of the House have agreed to the importance of Bill C-331.

I rise today to address this important and unfortunate chapter in Canadian history.

Bill C-331 is an act to recognize the injustice that was done to persons of Ukrainian descent who were interned at the time of the first world war. It will provide for public commemoration and for redress devoted to public education and the promotion of tolerance.

I would like to thank my colleague, the Conservative member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, for not only presenting the bill, but for holding the torch high for the people of Ukrainian descent to ensure redress became a reality and to right this historic wrong.

Today in the House of Commons I will concur with what the member across the way from Winnipeg North said. Tonight we need to ensure that the bill is passed, signed, sealed and delivered for the good of our Canadian history and for the good of the people of Ukrainian descent in our country.

Between 1914 and 1920 thousands of loyal Canadians were systematically arrested and interned in 24 camps throughout the country simply because of their national origin. This happened because at the outset of the first world war the western Ukraine was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and at that time Canada was at war with Austria-Hungary.

In the midst of wartime hysteria, people of Ukrainian descent were automatically connected to Austria-Hungary and were deemed to be a threat to our nation. This was a gross mistake that would prove to place a black mark on our Canadian history.

In actual fact, many of the Ukrainian Canadians fled their homeland and were refugees of Canada's wartime enemy, and were not enemies of Canada at all. They were loyal British subjects, allies of our wartime cause. In fact, many who were interned were born in Canada, but bore the wrong name.

When interned, men, women and children were forced to perform hard labour and live in their own homeland of Canada under very trying circumstances.

We cannot rewrite history. Nor can we change the fact that this injustice occurred. However, as heirs of our society we can acknowledge injustice and we can ensure that never again will this be allowed to happen on our Canadian soil.

Again, commend the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his perseverance, for holding his torch high to ensure that this injustice was corrected. To his great efforts, I commend my colleague for his perseverance and for him being able to witness tonight this historic event where all members on all sides of the House will join together to ensure that Bill C-331 is acclaimed.

Our modern history will mark its pages with the heroes of the Orange revolution in Ukraine. It is the recent history that will mark the people of Ukraine and the people of Ukrainian descent in Canada.

I spent my last Christmas in eastern Ukraine in Luhansk, helping with the election which was eventually won by Yuschenko. The beautiful countryside that spread out just 30 kilometres from the Russian border housed the courageous residents of Ukraine. These were people who wanted one thing. They wanted to be able to vote for the leader of their country and vote for whomever they wanted.

I grew to love the people and admire their hard work and dedication to their country. I was amazed when I walked the streets of Kiev and visited with the many people undergoing hardship, again to ensure they sent a message to their government that they wanted to be free to vote for whomever they chose.

The people of Ukraine became the heroes and the leaders of the world because they accomplished something no other nation had been able to achieve, the right to independence, the freedom to vote for whomever they wanted, without shedding one drop of blood.

The people of Ukraine have become my heroes because they are an example to the rest of the world. They are an example of the perseverance that we have seen from the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette. They are an example of the perseverance, the good heart and the hard work that it takes to make things happen.

Under the tents in Kiev, many people underwent hardship, but they had a vision for their country, the same as today where members on all sides of the House have a vision for this bill.

Today in the riding of Kildonan--St. Paul, leaders in Ukrainian communities such as Lesia Swaluk and Ostap Skrypnyk, do much to enhance and support the Ukrainian community, not only in my riding but in my province of Manitoba and throughout the world. They too are part of the courageous heritage that holds the banner high, a heritage that is an example not only to our nation but to the global community.

I support Bill C-311, the Ukrainian Canadian restitution act, and I am proud to do so. In these turbulent times in the House of Commons, we are able to come together for a common good, and that common good has a leader in the member for Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette who has done much to ensure that the leadership had a very conciliatory genre to it, so in the end this could happen.

It is a miracle, as he said a little earlier, that there has been unanimous consent on all sides of the House to ensure that the bill is passed in the House of Commons and that the Ukrainian Canadian restitution act will give due respect and diligence to the people of Ukrainian descent who were put through so much trauma during the first world war.

This is a good thing tonight. We can all hold our heads high. This will mark the fact that many immigrants and many people who have come to Canada have made up the mosaic of our great nation.

It is with much pride that I have had the opportunity to speak to the bill. I congratulate all members of the House on its success.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, if it is acceptable to the House, I would like to split my time with the member for Yukon.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member for Ottawa West--Nepean have the unanimous consent of the House to split her time with the hon. member for Yukon?

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I join others in congratulating the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his persistence and for his flexibility in ensuring we could come to this point tonight. As chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, it was a pleasure to deal with the member and other members of our committee. It also was a pleasure to see that an initiative by a member of Parliament could have the attention of the government. He, government officials and the minister were prepared to work cooperatively to come to an agreement on what should be in the bill that would satisfy everybody.

An important partnership in these discussions was also the Ukrainian-Canadian community nationally. All in all I this is a long overdue, but it is a most welcome step toward reconciliation for wrongs of the past. The House, and Canadians have heard the wrongs done to Canadians of Ukrainian origin during and following the first world war. These circumstances are not proud moments in our past. Nor are they actions that Canadians today would consider acceptable.

As we move forward, we are trying to do a couple of things. First, is to recognize and acknowledge a wrong was done. Second, is to work with the community as it decides how it would like that sad stage in the history of Ukrainian-Canadians, and in our history as a country, commemorated and how it would like other Canadians to learn about the experiences as a way of contributing to avoiding this type of thing happening in the future.

We did not have safeguards in place back then to protect the rights of Canadians, to ensure that governments could not act in this kind of arbitrary manner. As we move forward with the acknowledgement, commemoration and education of Canadians about these events, Canadians should be encouraged to appreciate how much Ukrainian-Canadians have contributed to our country and how much they have given despite the treatment received at that terribly dark time in our history. Ukrainian-Canadians are involved in every part of our society, in every profession, in the arts and culture. They have put aside understandable bitterness about the past to be fully contributing Canadians through many generations.

Part of moving forward is learning from the past and stiffening our resolve to not make the same mistakes again. I have to take a moment and say that at that time the government and Canadians thought it was all right in the name of security to remove certain privileges, rights and property of Canadians. I urge all of us to ensure that we examine the actions we take today so we do not make similar mistakes for which our children and grandchildren will judge us.

I am happy to support the bill. I also am happy to have had the chance to work on it, and that we have taken an important step toward reconciliation.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I too want to congratulate the member for his tremendous efforts.

As a country, we represent a coming together of many peoples and we have learned over time to respect and mutually accept each other. This is what sets Canada apart.

We have established a legal foundation, enshrined in our Constitution, that is aimed at ensuring Canadians are protected from racism and discrimination. We will continue to address these issues so that all Canadians have the opportunity to participate from their fullest potential. At the same time, we are working to strengthen the bonds of shared citizenship and to ensure the continuance of the strong and cohesive Canadian society that we have today.

The Government of Canada recognizes that there have been dark moments in the history of our country. We recognize that presenting our complete history, including those times when we have strayed from our shared commitment to human justice, and telling our stories is key to the understanding of who we are as Canadians.

Although legal at the time, the internment of Ukrainian Canadians and other Europeans during the first world war is one of those chapters about which Canadians are not proud. Our commitment as a government is to strengthen the fabric of Canada's multicultural society. We are committed to learning from the past and to acknowledging and commemorating the significant contributions to Canada made by the various ethno-racial and ethnocultural groups, including the Ukrainians.

The Department of Canadian Heritage and the cultural agencies of the Canadian Heritage portfolio have made considerable efforts to ensure the story of Ukrainians in Canada is known to all Canadians. Parks Canada works closely with national and local Ukrainian Canadian groups to develop interpretive exhibits in Banff National Park, Yoho National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park. These exhibits help visitors to understand the experiences, hardships and contributions of Ukrainian internees.

The Department of Canadian Heritage has also provided funding to Ukrainian Canadian organizations to assist in documenting the experience of Canadian Ukrainian internees and to underline the contribution of the Ukrainian community to our nation.

Since the 1890s, when waves of Ukrainians helped settle this vast land, Ukrainians have played an important role in Canada. There are an incredible number of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage who have made extraordinary contributions to Canada. They are, to name just a few: Wayne Gretzky, star of our national sport of hockey; Ed Werenich, a world champion in curling; in the cultural sphere, artist William Kurelek; violinist, Steven Staryk; in public life, Ray Hnatyshyn and Roy Romanow; and, Canada's first woman in space, Roberta Bondar.

To think of Ukrainian Canadians is also to recall Canada's war hero, Peter Dmytruk, who died for all of us on the battlefields of France in world war two.

As Canadians, we are proud to live in a country that recognizes the importance of diversity.

It is true that as a society, looking forward to the future can be difficult when troubling memories from Canada's past go unacknowledged. Budget 2005 also provides $25 million over the next three years for commemorative and educational initiatives that will highlight the contributions that Ukrainians and other ethnocultural groups have made to Canadian society and that will help build a better understanding of Canadians and of the strength of Canadian diversity.

With this funding, the government is responding to demands from the community in a way that respects both the concerns of the communities and the government's 1994 policy on this issue. Bill C-331 has been adapted to reflect this forward looking approach. On that basis, I encourage the hon. members in the House to vote in favour of Bill C-331 in its current form and to help celebrate the diversity of this great nation.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Inky Mark Conservative Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me dedicate my closing comments to Mary Manko Haskett, 97 years old and the last survivor of the internment.

Let me thank all the members who spoke in support of Bill C-331 this evening. I want to conclude by quoting three great Canadians of Ukrainian descent who appeared before the standing committee on October 25, 2005. I am sure that what members will hear will really reflect the position of the Ukrainian community across this country.

The first individual is Mr. Andrew Hladyshevsky, the president of the Canadian Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko. This is what he said before the committee:

This is truly a day of historic importance to over one million Canadians who have Ukrainian Canadian heritage. It is an astounding day for us. It's the kind of day when you watch what's happening with your throat because you're not sure exactly what the emotions will do to you by being here. Thank you for allowing us to present to you.

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, director of research, Ukrainain Canadian Civil Liberties Association, a professor of history at the Royal Military College in Kingston said to the standing committee:

There they were forced to do heavy labour for the profit of their jailers. What little wealth some of them had was confiscated, and a portion of it still remains in the federal treasury to this very day. They suffered restrictions on their freedom of movement, association, and free speech, and in 1917, even disenfranchisement.

Everything that was done to them took place not because of anything they had done but only because of who they were, where they had come from. No wonder, then, that Ukrainian Canadians were reported to still be “in fear of the barbed-wire fence” decades afterwards.

The last individual I will quote this evening is Mr. Paul Grod, the first vice-president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. This is what he said to the committee:

The reason we are here today, and the reason your time on this bill is so important today, is that this bill is part of the healing process. It is part of the acknowledgement and recognition that is so important to more than a million Ukrainian Canadians, and to the tens of millions of Canadians who know little to nothing about one of the greatest tragedies in Canadian history.

In closing, I ask that you seek unanimous consent of the House to have Bill C-331 carried at all stages.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member has asked if we could proceed with all stages of the bill. There is just one stage left in the bill and that is third reading.

Is the House ready for the question?

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 7:33 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:33 p.m.)