Mr. Chair, I would be pleased to split my time with the hon. member for Mount Royal, who is, I believe it is fair to say, our Parliament's scholar, historian, and collective conscience on human rights issues and who has been a great architect of the Ottawa protocol. I would love to hear a little more of his thoughts on that particular topic.
I have appreciated the discussion here tonight. It has been very valuable to me, and there are two essential messages that have come forward that must be communicated.
One is that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated no matter where it occurs, whether it be on the borders of Israel, in a European capital, or, God forbid, here on Canadian soil.
The second message, of course, is that this cannot be empty rhetoric. This message has to come with a resolve to protect and with a call to action. To those who are threatened by anti-Semitism, we must be firm: never again.
Members might wonder what exactly the member of Parliament for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte from Newfoundland and Labrador would be able to offer to this particular debate. I have an interesting perspective to offer.
I am an Irish Newfoundlander, and many Newfoundlanders are Irish. In 1968, my constituency decided that the best person to represent us in this chamber was a man named Jack Marshall.
Jack was Jewish. There were a lot of Jews in my riding, but we did not vote for him because he was Jewish, and we certainly did not vote against him because he was Jewish. He was the best person for the job. In fact, he was so very popular and such an effective advocate for veterans right across this entire country, as he was for his constituency in each and every matter that was important to it and to the people of Humber—St. George's—St. Barbe at the time, that the prime minister of Canada had to elevate him to the Senate, because that was the only way to free up the seat. He was a phenomenal representative.
His successor was a kind of a twist of irony. A by-election was held when Jack Marshall was elevated to the Senate, where he so well served this country and every veteran that ever served in uniform. His successor was a young man by the name of Fonse Faour, a Lebanese Canadian who was 24 years of age. We did not vote for him because he was of Lebanese descent, and we did not vote against him because he was of Lebanese descent; we voted for him because he was the best person for the job. Therefore, I come from a perspective that all things are possible. That is the way we are.
With that in mind, I went to Israel last year. I wanted to learn more. We received some great briefings and met with the Canadian representative to the Palestinian authority. Four days into the trip, Hamas started firing rockets into Israel, indiscriminately, for the sole purpose of killing innocent civilians. Hamas, the terrorist organization, was doing what it does.
That was the most profound experience that anyone could possibly imagine. It was transformative for me.
Anti-Semitism is real. It is very active in this world. The events in Montreal prove that it is on the rise. Is it on the rise everywhere? I think it is.
Yesterday, because I have been an outspoken advocate for peace and for the right of Israel to exist and to protect itself, I received a message from within my own constituency suggesting that I was acting like a Nazi for my beliefs and my sincere conviction that peace can happen, that Israel has the right to exist, and that action against anti-Semitism must be taken.
These are the perspectives that a man from Newfoundland and Labrador who sits in this chamber can offer to this debate. Not only do we have to communicate that anti-Semitism is not to be tolerated, but we have to send a message to the Jewish community, to those who would advocate for peace and for harmony, that we will not stand idly by, no matter what corner of the globe or part of Canada we are from.
I will conclude with that one perspective. This is an issue that should captivate us all. We have a duty to action and a duty to protect, and it is inherent in each and every one of us.