Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank members on both sides of the House for their participation in this debate.
As I have already mentioned, Pope John Paul II's legacy goes well beyond his role in the Catholic church. He stood for religious tolerance and freedom and he spent a great deal of time encouraging inter-religious dialogue. To me this represents a big part of what it means to be Canadian.
Canada is a country where so many traditions, religions and cultures come together in harmony, where each has supported and impacted the other, where mutual respect and admiration is of paramount importance. We live in a country where our children can grow up to have an understanding and an appreciation for other cultures and come to learn from the teaching of each. Our future looks bright. Younger generations will reiterate these messages and teach tolerance and harmony.
John Paul II once said:
To choose tolerance, dialogue and cooperation as the path into the future is to preserve what is most precious in the great religious heritage of mankind. It is also to ensure that in the centuries to come the world will not be without that hope which is the lifeblood of the human heart.
In addition to the respect he showed to other religions, Pope John Paul II recognized that today's youth hold the key to our future, and by imparting wisdom and values of compassion and tolerance on younger generations, we can ensure a better future. He showed our youth a great respect and sought to bridge generational gaps, which is why in 1985 he established World Youth Day. His visit to Toronto for World Youth Day in 2002 attracted hundreds of thousands of people. Youth from around the world representing all faiths and cultures came to hear him speak and to experience the wonderful multicultural society Canada has to offer. Each time we celebrate World Youth Day, we also celebrate John Paul II's legacy and his vision for our future and investment in our youth.
Pope John Paul II proved that nothing is impossible and stood up for populations who were oppressed by totalitarian regimes. He will be remembered for his role in the collapse of several stifling dictatorships and the way he inspired peaceful opposition to communism in Poland, leading to its eventual collapse.
Canada is a peaceful country and a safe country, and I strongly believe that the work of John Paul II and the values he spread truly resonate with what it means to be Canadian. In taking the time to remember Pope John Paul II, Canadians would also take a moment to appreciate what we are so lucky to have in this great country.
I bring this before the House today, not only as an opportunity to celebrate a man who did so much for millions of Christian followers around the world, but to celebrate a man who did much more to uphold values that we as Canadians cherish so deeply, values of justice, liberty and democracy.
I ask all members of the House to join me in declaring April 2 Pope John Paul II day in Canada, to honour and pay tribute to this great man.