Mr. speaker, 20 years ago today, Poland held the first free parliamentary elections in what was then the communist eastern bloc. The overwhelming winner was the Solidarity free trade union movement. For the first time in four decades, a democratic government came to power. Solidarity's triumph helped to tear down the Iron Curtain and led to the non-violent collapse of communism throughout central and eastern Europe.
Within mere months of this election, nearly all of the communist governments across the region fell. Democracy, for which many Poles and other disenfranchised Europeans had given their lives, finally saw the light of day.
The success of Solidarity, personified in the leadership of Lech Walesa and inspired by Pope John Paul II, is an accomplishment worthy of commemoration. I am proud to stand up today for the recognition of the 20th anniversary of free elections in Poland.
Today, Poland serves as an example to those who are still fighting for freedom and democracy around the world. On this 20th anniversary of the beginning of the end of communism in central and eastern Europe, Canadians should remember its significance and be mindful of the need to always stand up for the values that we hold dear: liberty, human rights, the rule of law and democracy.