Mr. Speaker, it truly is a great honour for me to rise today to pay tribute to one of the great figures of our era, Václav Havel.
Václav Havel is not only a key personality in modern history, but also a man who, throughout his life, was the incarnation of the spirit of justice and resilience.
As the founder of Charter 77, Václav Havel was at the centre of the fight against the injustices committed by the communist regime. He fought inequality and defended the ideals of civil society. Repeatedly accused of subversion, he spent nearly five years in prison, and his writings were banned. Nevertheless, his voice was heard, and his writing about nonviolent resistance played a decisive role in the Velvet Revolution, an extraordinary revolution that took place without a bloodbath.
His prominent role paved the way for him to be chosen, even by his enemies, as the first president of Czechoslovakia, a position that he had not sought—Václav Havel was not after power.
As president, he stood up for the rights of the Roma, fought against corruption and defended the most underprivileged in society. For Havel, as he remarked in his maiden speech as president, “politics can be not just the art of the possible, ... it can even be the art of the impossible, namely the art of improving ourselves and world in which we live”.
When we think of Václav Havel, we often think about his achievements as a political leader, but it must not be forgotten that he was also an artist. A man of the theatre, a poet, and essayist; all of his achievements demonstrate his great humanity.
Václav Havel inspired millions of people. As we remember him today, let us consider his most famous words, which practically became a slogan, “Love and truth must triumph over hate and lies.”
On behalf of all NDP members, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of Václav Havel, and to the Czech people. He will be sorely missed.