House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.


National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak this evening to Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.

The horrific events of the Holocaust are a stark testament to what can happen when humanity and fundamental basic rights are discarded. This monument will serve as a symbol of Canadian value and diversity as much as it will be a memorial for the millions of victims and families destroyed. This monument will be a testament to the Canadian commitment and resolve never to forget, and always to stand up against such atrocities.

In addition to supporting the establishment of a national Holocaust monument in the nation's capital as proposed in Bill C-442, the government also undertakes other efforts to ensure that Canadians remember the Holocaust. These initiatives are very important, especially in light of new forces of anti-Semitism.

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah in Hebrew, resulted in the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during the second world war. With 40,000 Holocaust survivors settling in Canada after the war, our country has the third-largest population of these survivors in the world.

Our country's Prime Minister, when he visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in the spring of 2008, commented that, on the one hand, he was deeply moved by the suffering of the innocents who died, but that, on the other hand, he felt hope from the spirit and strength of the Jewish people.

Worldwide, there has been an increase in the number of major violent manifestations that are anti-Semitic in nature. This increase is linked to Holocaust denial and questioning the legitimacy of Israel. Similar events are being reported here in Canada, and there currently appears to be less understanding of other cultures and religions.

The government does not tolerate public expressions of anti-Semitism. In support of this sentiment, we have created a fund that provides security-support grants for synagogues, Jewish schools, and other communities that have faced hatred or violence.

I would like to explain some of the actions that our federal government has recently taken to remember the Holocaust and thereby to underscore the importance of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Holocaust Memorial Day, which is also called Yom HaShoah, is determined each year by the Jewish lunar calendar. The Parliament of Canada has formally recognized this annual event through the Holocaust Memorial Day Act, which was adopted with the support of all parties. This Act, which came into force on November 7, 2003, reaffirms our country's commitment to human rights and provides an occasion to focus on the lessons of the Holocaust. I should mention that all provinces and territories also have acts that recognize the Holocaust Memorial Day.

In 2005, Canada co-sponsored a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, which led to the designation of January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust. This date is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945. Shortly, we will join in the sixth annual international commemoration of the Holocaust.

In 2009, the Government of Canada became the 27th member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. This organization was established in 1998 and is mandated to promote national and international policies and programs in support of furthering understanding of the Holocaust.

One of the requirements for becoming a member of this task force is to complete a project with liaison partners. To fulfill this requirement, Canada co-hosted a conference with B'nai Brith Canada that was held in Toronto this past June. With 200 attendees, including representatives from other countries, this two-day conference focused on Canada's restrictive immigration policy during the second world war, which led to the exclusion of refugees seeking sanctuary.

In February 2009, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, along with 11 other members of the Parliament of Canada, attended the inaugural conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in London, United Kingdom. This conference was also attended by parliamentarians from 40 countries.

Following this event was the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism, which calls on governments and societies to affirm democratic and human values, promote respect and citizenship, and combat any manifestations of anti-Semitism and discrimination.

The Government of Canada is proud to have provided financial support to the Parliamentary Centre, which, along with the Inter-parliamentary Commission on Combating Anti-Semitism, will be hosting the follow-up conference here in Canada, November 7-9 this year.

In the summer of 2009, Canada was a signatory to the Terezin Declaration, which emerged from the Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference held in the Czech Republic. This declaration speaks to the need to take care of elderly Holocaust survivors to ensure that their last years are filled with dignity, and imposes a moral obligation to pursue the restitution of property and to attend to the needs of survivors.

The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism was commended for his leadership efforts, and the Government of Canada was recognized for its commitment to Holocaust commemoration and education. As follow-up to this conference, Canada was among the 43 countries that signed the new restitution guidelines in June 2010 to deal with some outstanding issues related to property confiscated by the Nazis.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has also been taking concrete steps that further the recollection of the Holocaust on our own soil. In May 2009, the minister established a Jewish-Canadian advisory committee for historical recognition projects to review projects such as monuments, plaques, and exhibits for the Jewish-Canadian community. That same month, Citizenship and Immigration announced that it would contribute a total of $2.5 million to the Jewish-Canadian community for projects such as monuments, commemorative plaques, and education materials.

To date, of this total amount, $1 million has been contributed to assist in the operation of the National Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Education, which brings together Canadian experts on the subject to learn from each other and improve co-ordination.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has also contributed $485,000 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the MS St. Louis incident. This will include a memorial, which will be installed at Pier 21 in the Halifax harbour. Renowned architect Daniel Libeskind has been selected by the Canadian Jewish Congress to design the monument. When describing his proposed design, Libeskind stated, “This work of memory will express the importance of eradicating the evils of hatred, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism”.

I should pause at this moment to recount the relatively unknown story of the ship known as the MS St. Louis. On the eve of World War II, this German ocean liner transported 900 Jewish passengers from Germany who were denied entry into Cuba, the U.S.A., and Canada. These individuals were eventually accepted by various European countries and subsequently over 250 lost their lives.

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights will also promote the remembrance of the Holocaust. The museum will include exhibits on the Holocaust, since it serves as an invaluable tool to teach people the extreme consequences of racism and the responsibility of everyone to promote societies based on respect, equality, and understanding.

I would like to turn my attention to Bill C-442. This bill is favoured by various stakeholder associations such as the Canadian Jewish Congress, B'nai Brith Canada, and others. Therefore, I would expect these associations to be extremely interested in participating in the work carried out to achieve the objective of this bill, possibly by providing advice to the national Holocaust monument development council proposed in the bill.

If Bill C-442 were to become law, which I certainly hope will occur, Canada would be one of several countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United States, that have memorials or monuments to recognize the Holocaust.

It is also important to recognize the support of all parties for this bill. We as members of Parliament, through our support for a national holocaust monument, are taking a stand against hatred of the worst kind and saying to future generations, never again.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious subject and I am glad the member finally turned his attention to Bill C-442. He spent the first part of his 15 minutes talking about initiatives of the country and of the government associated with the Jewish community. I might remind him that it is not the intention of the legislation for him to glory in rewriting history about Liberal initiatives with which he had the opportunity to cut a ribbon to commemorate.

I want to ask him how he feels today, seeing Bill C-442 restored by a decision of the Speaker and by an appeal on a point of order by myself. Did he support the bill in its original form or did he listen to the Prime Minister tell him to change it because he would not put any public moneys, nor public lands to the erection of a monument that he now thinks, or says, or claims is an initiative of his?

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is quite unfortunate that with a bill such as this, an act to establish an national holocaust monument, we cannot put partisan party lines aside and look at the bill for what it is intended to do.

Great organizations like B'nai B'rith have said that not only did Canada fight as one of the allied forces in the second world war, but it has also become home to many survivors of the holocaust. As a victor in this terrible war and as a haven for its victims, it is only fitting that a marker remembering the millions of Jews and other victims of the Nazis be erected on Canadian soil.

We are talking about a national holocaust monument for Canadians to remember. Let us put the politics aside.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment because I was in fact the sponsor of this exact same bill. I introduced Bill C-238 on December 1, 2008.

The bill has now been restored to its original form, a bill which the government will undertake to sponsor, to support, to build in co-operation with communities.

As my colleague said, I do not think any of us needed a litany or a listing of all that has been done for the Jewish community. As a member of that community I follow it closely and I watch carefully.

However, I, too, want to follow up with the member, and it is not a question of politics. I do not understand why he agreed to have his original bill amended in committee the way it was, stripped of its original intention. It really has done a disservice to those of us who are in the House and who want to honour the Jewish community and those who survived and perished in the holocaust.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I agreed to some administrative changes to the bill. Some of those changes were brought forward in committee. Some were included in the bill and others did not make it into the bill.

Parliament needs to focus on the bill itself, which reminds Canadians of the horrors of the holocaust. I also believe it is a beacon of light to all Canadians and even new Canadians, people who come to Canada. They will see the tolerance we have for other people across Canada, the belief and our respect for fellow human beings. I believe this monument will be a beacon of light for that.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-442. Like every other member of the House, in the spring I stood in my place and I voted in favour of Bill C-442, which was a virtual carbon copy of Bill C-238 presented by my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre. That bill tried to do something on behalf of all Canadians, irrespective of background, religious background, ethnic origin, any other kind of national racial origin. Why? Because every member in this place was taken seriously by the significance of the Holocaust, what it meant in human history and the importance of recognizing the tragedy that could visit humankind when evil went unstopped.

It was as well a unanimous expression by members of the House of Commons of Canada to commemorate the suffering of those survivors still resident in Canada. There was no expression of political gain. There was no expression of partisan one-upmanship. There was indeed a complete and total unanimous expression that Canadians from all parts of the country wanted to have the Government of Canada, on their behalf, locate some land in the national capital region, to put together a consultative group and together design, plan, construct and then subsequently maintain a monument to commemorate the Holocaust and to commemorate the sufferings of those who had survived, and to do it all with funds available to the Government of Canada or, in other words, with the contributions of every man, woman and child, every taxpayer in Canada. Every citizen needed to be a part of that project.

It was not a project designed for the Jewish community to commemorate its suffering. It was a project intended to be an expression of the Canadian view of all that was required to fight back evil no matter where it existed and then to celebrate those hardy people who survived it. We used as an example the Jewish community, but we wanted to make it universal.

There is no gain, no political agenda in that. In fact, some would say we did not need to debate this. We just needed to do it. There was not one dissenting voice, not one from any community. Think about the value and the merit of that exercise. Not a single community in Canada said that we should not do this or maybe we should adjust it. They were all one with the intent, an intent that had been introduced, as I said, by my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre and from her and my other colleague in a previous Parliament, the member for Thornhill, Ms. Susan Kadis, then known as Bill C-547. However, the government wanted to make it its bill and so we said that was not a problem, that we wanted to co-operate

What did the government do with the unanimity that was expressed in the House? We went to committee and the government produced an amendment for every clause of the bill.

If the member opposite, the sponsor of the bill, felt offended that I made a remark that he did not like, it is because I asked him in committee if the Prime Minister of Canada agreed with his bill. I asked him if his cabinet agreed with his bill and if it was voting against the wishes of the House. That would have been untrue because everybody in the House voted in favour. He said that the cabinet and the Prime Minister all agreed with his bill. Why would he amend it? The only thing that was left in the bill was the title.

The Conservatives introduced amendments that took away the concept of public lands, at public expense, to be funded by the Government of Canada through a plan, design and construction process that would be at the cost of the Government of Canada and then to maintain it in the national capital region.

Instead, the Conservatives said that the legislative authority of the minister would be devolved to the advisory council that was going to be established. They would ask it to raise the funds, because they were the only ones interested in this project, to go out into the community and ask people to give them money. With that money, they would build this monument, then buy the land and locate the monument here. Whatever expenses would be incurred and, in the end, whatever money was left over would be given to the National Capital Commission.

What is wrong with that? What is wrong is it reversed every intent and every indication that the House of Commons of Canada unanimously accepted.

I challenged those in committee. Then that challenge was unable to pass because government members challenged their chair. Then I asked the Speaker if these amendments were in order. Last week the Speaker ruled that those amendments were not in order and ordered that the original bill be presented. That is what we are talking about today.

We are talking about a restoration of what Canadians, through their members of Parliament, agreed to unanimously in the spring. What is being restored today is the bill that was presented initially by my colleague, Susan Kadis from Thornhill, and recently by my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre.

I was offended that the government member would start off with one of these spins about how the Conservatives deserve credit.

This is a non-partisan issue. Today we should be glorying in the fact that the Government of Canada is going to respect the unanimous wishes of the House of Commons and plan, design and build a monument to the Holocaust and the Holocaust survivors right in the national capital region.

We went so far as to write a letter to the minister responsible in the middle of May asking him to withdraw all of those amendments. Why? The Government of Canada did not need this legislation to do what we are discussing today. It did not need Bill C-442 to build a monument in the national capital region. That is already within the purview, the authority, of the National Capital Commission. It already has the funds for this.

If there is one regret in all of this it is that the Government of Canada had to ask the representatives of the people in the House of Commons to compel it first by unanimous decision of a vote of a bill and then to have the Speaker of the House withdraw, or cause to be withdrawn, all the amendments that would have gutted the bill. To do what? To do what the minister could have very simply done. He could have gone to the National Capital Commission and told it to get this done, erect this monument, the money was there and put it in the national capital region.

The people of Canada want this, demand it and they should get no less. There are 16 other such monuments already in the national capital region and they did not require legislation like this. The Jewish community, the Canadian public deserve no less.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

October 27th, 2010 / 7:10 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, my comments will perhaps be a bit less partisan than the comments of my Liberal colleague. That is his right. I sense a lot of frustration over the fact that this bill could have the same content as some bills previously introduced by Liberal members. That is not what my comments are about.

The bill before us would establish a monument in Ottawa to honour the victims and Canadian survivors of the Holocaust. I repeat, my Liberal colleague had every right to say what he wanted to. He did not use unparliamentary language, but I think that we must remember that we are talking about a monument to illustrate the horrors of the Holocaust, the horrors that Jewish people were subjected to, simply because they were Jewish. There is no room for partisanship here. I hope that this bill will receive the support of all parties.

I am sure my introduction made this clear, but I will state that the Bloc Québécois will be in favour of Bill C-442, which would establish a monument to honour the victims of the Holocaust.

As I said earlier, the Holocaust is one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century. We have a black mark on our record—a real black eye, in the popular expression—meaning that we are not proud as a society to have known about the horrors of the Holocaust, even though we had nothing to do with their occurrence. While we believe that we must commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, we also believe that we must continue the fight against anti-Semitism and all other forms of hate speech and discrimination.

We in the Bloc Québécois have already taken action. I will probably not have enough time to come back to Bill C-384, which was introduced and studied by the Bloc Québécois, that would have made it a criminal offence to commit an act of mischief that targets certain institutions frequented by a given community. Do not forget that in west Montreal there have already been fires in book stores, libraries and schools frequented by Jewish people. We think it is completely wrong and unacceptable, which is why the Bloc Québécois introduced Bill C-384. I will talk about this bill again if I have time.

Anti-Semitism and all other forms of hate speech are contrary to the values of Quebec and Canada. The Bloc Québécois has always acted to secure social peace and ensure a public space without hatred, discrimination or violence. That fight is crucial for any society that claims to be democratic.

When we think of the Holocaust, the first images that come to mind are images of horror. Each of us here and each person watching remembers them well, no matter what our age, because we have seen the audiovisual documents that illustrate the horror of the camps. These barbaric acts shocked the entire world. And out of that shock came the vow, “Never again!”

Faced with the political and economic crisis that hit Germany after World War I, the National Socialist Party singled out the Jews and blamed them for all of Germany's troubles. Jews became scapegoats, and the worst lies were fabricated about them.

The first step in the long process toward the Holocaust was the discriminatory legislation that targeted German citizens of the Jewish faith. They were identified as such by law. They were forced to sell their businesses. They were herded into buildings. They were forced to wear a yellow star in order to be easily recognized. The yellow star was a badge of shame. The goal was to chase the Jews out of Germany by any means possible, including by prohibiting Jews from holding more and more jobs.

When Germany annexed other countries, more Jews fell under the Nazi regime. At the height of the Nazi bloodshed, Europe's Jews were sent to concentration camps and then to extermination camps. It is estimated that about three-quarters of Europe's Jews, or approximately 40% of the world's Jewish diaspora, were massacred by the Nazis.

In terms of numbers, as my colleagues know, an estimated 6 million Jews died under the Nazi regime. The Holocaust was the first mass murder characterized by its industrial scale and its bureaucracy. Like a machine, the Nazis sought the systematic elimination of an entire people just because it existed. It was neither a political nor a military threat. The only crime committed by Jews in Nazi Germany was existing.

This mass murder was carried out by Hitler's regime and several Third Reich bureaucrats, as well as by numerous collaborators, including individuals and states. In addition to Jews, the Nazis massacred countless gypsies, homosexuals, people with disabilities and members of Slavic communities, including Poles and Soviets. We have to remember them too.

In the aftermath of the war and in light of the horror of the crimes committed by the German state, governments around the world agreed to add crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity to existing war crimes in international law. As a result, international law included two new concepts arising directly from the barbaric treatment of the Jews: genocide and crimes against humanity.

Bill C-442, which the Bloc Québécois will support, would erect a monument to remind us of that crime. This is a reminder to us all of humanity at its worst, a reminder that we must never allow this to happen again.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.


Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I stand before the House today in support of Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.

On the one hand, the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazis are despicable and truly leave an empty, gut-wrenching feeling inside of me. On the other hand, ensuring that an open dialogue surrounding the Holocaust and other campaigns of genocide continues on an ongoing basis is integral for protecting current and future generations from similar plights.

Therefore, although discussions surround large scale atrocities, such as the Holocaust, can often be difficult to broach, raising awareness through open dialogue on the subject is certainly one of the most appropriate approaches for ensuring that similar campaigns of genocide and human rights abuses are not tolerated by members of the international community.

Currently, Canada's national capital region lacks a public monument to honour the victims and Canadian survivors of the Holocaust. It is my belief that the establishment of such a memorial is long overdue. Other cities across Canada and around the world which already have such a monument include Toronto, Montreal, Washington, Berlin, Paris, Boston, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Just this past summer, I joined other parliamentarians in Israel, thanks to the Canada-Israel committee, and I had the honour of visiting the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial located in the heart of Jerusalem. This humbling experience evoked many emotions within me and, upon returning to Canada, it became clear to me that it was high time that the national capital region had a similar installation designed to honour and commemorate the millions of victims, as well as the survivors, of the Holocaust.

Hitler's vile plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe led to the murder of six million men, women and children. In addition to the atrocities committed against the Jews of Europe, the Nazis also sought to eradicate vulnerable groups, such as disabled persons, the Roma and homosexuals, in their revolting systematic campaign of evil.

Many Canadians are familiar with the stories of the atrocities committed against these minority groups during this dark period in world history. From Anne Frank to Eli Wiesel, brutal personal accounts of misery and suffering shed light on the widespread carnage and mayhem perpetrated on an unrivalled scale by Hitler's Nazis.

We, as Canadians, must make it our mission to ensure that a genocidal campaign such as the Holocaust is never allowed to occur again. The establishment of a public Holocaust monument in the national capital region would provide a tangible structure demonstrating Canada's intolerance toward hate-filled ideologies and campaigns of genocide, such as the Holocaust.

Pursuant to this, the creation of a public Holocaust monument in the national capital region is necessary for ensuring that the Holocaust continues to have a permanent place in Canada's consciousness and memory. We must resist viewing the Holocaust as a purely historical event as the seeds of hatred that spawned this brutality are still alive and, in some cases, continue to flourish in various regions of the world.

We need to actively work to deter and ultimately eliminate these hateful elements from sprouting up in mainstream political discourse through the refusal to accept these ideological underpinnings as anything other than the racist, anti-Semitic and bigoted positions that they are. More specifically, free and democratic societies, such as Canada, have a moral obligation to strongly condemn ideologies of hatred, anti-Semitism and despotism whenever and wherever they occur.

Canada has a responsibility to honour the memory of Holocaust victims as part of our collective resolve to never forget the atrocities that were committed upon them. The establishment of a Holocaust monument in the nation's capital would greatly assist in creating an environment in which these atrocities will never be forgotten. The establishment of a national monument shall forever remind Canadians of one of the darkest eras of human history and of the dangers of state-sanctioned hatred and anti-Semitism.

The persistence of anti-Semitic attitudes and the dangers of state-sanctioned violence and hatred continue to haunt the international community, with the current conflict in Darfur serving as an example of ethnically targeted violence and genocide.

Not only would such a memorial raise awareness amongst future generations about the Holocaust, but it would also serve as a catalyst that demonstrates Canada's refusal to let a future conflict escalate into the type of genocidal campaign that the Holocaust can accurately be described as.

Therefore, the erection of a Holocaust memorial will serve a dual purpose of honouring and commemorating the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, while drawing attention to the broader issue of state-sanctioned violence, genocide, anti-Semitism and hate-inspired ideologies that persistently rear their ugly heads. The monument will thus serve as a constant reminder, ensuring that we will not forget.

Next week marks the 30th anniversary of Holocaust Education Week in Canada. What better message can we send to the Canadian public that Parliament considers education an integral component in assisting future generations to fully understand the origins and consequences of the Holocaust than to commit to the erection of a memorial in our nation's capital?

The Holocaust memorial in Ottawa will signify to Canadians and foreign delegates alike that Canada continues to be a stern ally in the battle against religious and ethnically driven persecution and intolerance, both at home and abroad. Therefore, it is my firm belief that a national monument will act as a tool to help future generations learn about the underlying origins of the Holocaust, as well as its consequences, which will consequently assist in preventing future acts of genocide around the world.

This will ensure that the educational component is in place, as teaching future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust will create an environment in which Canadians will continue with their refusal to forget through the 21st century and beyond.

I stand staunchly in support of Bill C-442. First and foremost, the creation of a national Holocaust memorial in the nation's capital will better allow future generations of Canadians to become educated about the causes and consequences of the Holocaust itself. More broadly, the memorial will act as a symbolic gesture indicating Canada's commitment to eradicating state-sanctioned violence backed by hate-filled ideologies that target a specific ethnic or religious minority.

Most important, the erection of such a monument will renew Canada's pledge to never forget. I therefore call on all members of the House to wholeheartedly support this endeavour so that future generations of parliamentarians will be able to stand in the House and commit that Canada will never forget.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I consider it an honour to speak to Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.

This is a long overdue bill. It was introduced by my Conservative colleague, the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, and I strongly support this new initiative to recognize the Holocaust.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities considered this bill and reported it to the House of Commons on June 3 of this year with a number of clarifying amendments.

Last week, unfortunately the member for Eglinton—Lawrence raised a point of order in the House that sought the Speaker's ruling on the admissibility of three amendments that had been presented to the committee. These same amendments had been ruled inadmissible by the chair but then overturned by a majority vote of committee members.

I note that in fact it was a strong majority of the committee that actually supported these amendments. The government was joined by some of the other opposition members as well.

The amendments in question provided additional clarity to the bill. They empowered the National Holocaust Monument Development Council to form a legal entity if directed to do so by the responsible minister. It also clarified that a fundraising campaign would support all costs associated with the monument and it authorized the minister to delegate certain responsibilities to the council under this bill.

Earlier this week, the Speaker ruled that these amendments should be removed from the bill. The government respects the decision of the Speaker, as we always do, with respect to the admissibility of the three disputed amendments to Bill C-442.

It is worth noting that the government's intention in presenting motions to amend Bill C-442 was to elaborate and clarify the means by which this very worthwhile initiative would be carried out. More specifically, the amendments at committee stage sought to provide greater transparency and accountability in the establishment of a national Holocaust monument.

They were also intended to ensure that the bill would be in line with the roles, the responsibilities and the policies of the minister responsible for the National Capital Commission, and also the commission itself. Those were the technical amendments that were made.

I want to speak from the heart. This important bill reflects Canada's long-standing values of freedom, democracy, the defence of human rights at home and abroad, and the defence of the rule of law.

My wife and I have taken it upon ourselves to educate our children about the Holocaust, about what happens when evil is allowed to flourish, especially when good people do nothing.

We have also taught our children the importance of never forgetting the millions of Jews and others who perished at the hands of the Nazis. Without understanding and firmly resolving to remember the lessons of our history, we are doomed to repeat the horrific chapters of our past.

Sadly, even Canada's history is stained by the memory of a callous government turning away the MS St. Louis, a ship filled with Jews desperately seeking a safe haven from hatred and bigotry. How many lives could have been saved had Canada done the right thing?

Quite frankly, I still struggle to fully grasp the depravity of the Nazi genocide, but I do understand the Hebrew word “Zachor”, which means to remember. That is why this bill is so important. It ensures that we continue to remember the darkest chapters in mankind's history and vow never to repeat it.

This past summer, my wife and I were able to accompany a number of other members of Parliament, including the member for Sudbury who just spoke, on a visit to Israel. In the “City of Peace”, Jerusalem, we visited Yad Vashem. That is the national Holocaust museum. It is one of the most powerful events I have ever taken part in.

This museum commemorates the millions upon millions of lives that were lost. It exposes the depths to which human depravity can sink. But at the same time it also shows the highest quality that mankind can aspire to. For example, the museum highlighted those who the Jews referred to as the “Righteous Gentiles” or the “Righteous among the Nations”. These were individuals in Europe who at great cost and risk to themselves, sometimes at the cost of their lives, hid and protected Jews who were fleeing for their lives.

That is what we experienced in the museum, the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. What a powerful experience.

I encourage every one of my colleagues in this House to take an opportunity to visit Israel someday and visit specifically that particular museum. It stands as a reminder of what happens when good human beings do nothing to stand in the way of evil.

That is the kind of monument we are addressing today in Bill C-442. This monument is long overdue. I am still puzzled why we as a nation have not dealt with this earlier.

I want to again congratulate my Conservative colleague, the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, for his dedication and hard work in bringing this bill forward. I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the work of Bernie Farber and the Canadian Jewish Congress, who in partnership with the Canadian Holocaust memorial project have been spearheading this initiative right here in the heart of our nation's capital. I cannot think of a better place in which to erect this monument than right here within the capital of our country.

Let me wind up by saying this: if this bill receives royal assent, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, who is responsible for the National Capital Act, would diligently carry out the legislated responsibilities regarding this monument that are assigned to him in this bill. At the same time, the minister would certainly rely on the efforts undertaken by the council, along with the expert advice of the National Capital Commission and any approvals required by other applicable laws and regulations.

I would join my colleagues in the Bloc and my colleague from Sudbury in calling for all of the members of this House to support this bill with enthusiasm. This really is something that allows Canada to do its part in never ever forgetting the victims of the Holocaust.

With the expectation that both Houses of Parliament will eventually decide in favour of Bill C-442 and that the bill will receive royal assent, I am confident that our nation's capital will finally be graced with a national Holocaust memorial.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of private member's Bill C-442, which has been tabled by the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, respecting the establishment of a national Holocaust monument in the national capital region. It is a bill in remembrance of Holocaust victims, in remembrance of survivors, in tribute to those who fought so that our values may endure and in order to ensure, as the preamble to the bill puts it, our collective resolve never to forget, so that never again will not just be a matter of rhetoric but a matter of resolve and commitment to act.

May I cite from the bill's preamble which underpinned my support for the bill last year and the support of all parties at that time. I am pleased to see the support of all parties this evening. I quote, “to ensure that the Holocaust continues to have a permanent place in our nation's consciousness and forever remind Canadians of one of the darkest chapters in human history” to which the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord spoke so eloquently earlier this evening, “ and of the dangers of state-sanctioned hatred and anti-Semitism...and to ensure that future generations learn about the root causes of the Holocaust and its consequences in order to help prevent future acts of genocide”.

This is how the preamble speaks and this framed my support last year. I regret that a series of amendments were subsequently proposed by the government which undermined the bill, its objects and application and which I would not have supported then and would not support now.

I am pleased, therefore, that the Speaker ruled on the point of order raised by my colleague, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, to the effect that these amendments were indeed out of order, that they were at variance with the objects, purposes and intended effects of the legislation which were indeed supported by all members and by their constituents. I had discussed the bill as it was originally framed with my constituents and that is that to which they tendered their support and which I now continue to support.

At this point I will turn to the bill itself. As I said last year, but this bears reaffirmation, there are things in Jewish history, in human history that are too terrible to be believed but they are not too terrible to have happened; that Oswiecim, Majdanek, Dachau, Treblinka, these are beyond vocabulary. Words may somehow somewhat ease the pain, but they do not dwarf the tragedy. For the Holocaust, as colleagues from all parties have put it in this debate this evening, was uniquely evil in its genocidal singularity, where biology was inescapably destiny, a war against the Jews in which as Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Laureate, Elie Wiesel, put it so well, “not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims”.

As it happens, we meet this evening at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of witness and warning, a moment that is appropriate to the significance of establishing such a national Holocaust monument. We meet in the aftermath of the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg race laws which institutionalized anti-Semitism in law in Germany at the time. We meet in effect of the double entendre of Nuremberg, the Nuremberg of hate, the Nuremberg of jackboots, as well as the Nuremberg of judgments.

On the eve of its 62nd anniversary, the Genocide Convention, which sometimes is spoken of as the “never again convention”, has tragically been violated again and again. In the aftermath of the 70th anniversary of the second world war, in fact, it is sometimes forgotten there were two wars at the time. There was the Nazi war against the allies and there was the Nazi war against the Jews. The Nazi war against the Jews sometimes overtook the Nazi war against the allies where the Germans diverted necessary supplies from the Nazi war against the allies to the war against the Jews.

We meet in the aftermath, and reference has been made to this, of the 70th anniversary of the doomed voyage of the St. Louis known as the voyage of the damned, where those who sought to enter our country Canada and those who sought to enter the United States were turned away, so that those seeking a safe haven were forced back into the inferno that was engulfing Europe.

This came a year after the infamous Evian Conference when nations of the world met to ask themselves what to do about the plight of the Jewish refugees at the time, those still living and wishing to leave.

It ended up that the world was tragically divided into two parts, those countries from which the Jews could not leave or indeed could not live in and those they could not enter, which took us down the road to the Holocaust.

National Holocaust Monument ActPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I wish to inform the hon. member that he will have four and a half minutes to conclude his remarks the next time the bill is before the House.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 7:44 p.m. this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:44 p.m.)