House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was regard.

Topics

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we are able to teach young people and give them the tools they need so that they can invest. There are so many opportunities at this point in time.

The world is open to young people. When we take a look at the way in which they communicate and the opportunities they have, they need to have more financial literacy now and a different type of financial literacy than people like the member or myself would have. This is what is critical, but we have to make sure that we keep up the hard work to train people so that they understand what they have to do.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to address Bill C-26, which amends the CPP in this country.

The changes that are being proposed today would not help today's seniors. The CPP tax hike that the Liberals are proposing would only help seniors 40 years from now and in the interim would damage the Canadian economy.

Being from Alberta, I know that our economy right now is in a shaky place. We have seen double digit unemployment rates and all sectors are being affected. This is not just an oil price problem. This is a problem across Alberta's entire economy. I particularly want to push back on the idea that Alberta does not have a diverse economy. For anyone who says that Alberta's economy is not diverse, I would challenge that person to come and visit my riding.

If there is something that starts in the ground it probably comes from my riding. I have a significant agriculture industry in my riding as well as a significant forestry industry and a significant oil and gas industry. All of these industries work hand in hand.

I met with a constituent during the campaign and when I asked him what he did he told me it was hard to explain. He said his family are traditionally dairy farmers. They have a herd of about 120 cows. He said he has a mechanics ticket and on the side he soups up Dodge diesel pickups. He has a lot of fun with that and it makes him about $12,000 a year. He said he also services a number of gas wells in the area.

This gentleman's story typifies Alberta in that its entire economy is integrated. If a person works in one industry, that does not necessarily mean that he or she only works in that industry. A lot of guys are doing multiple things. There is a lot of shift work in the oil and gas industry. People will work for two weeks at a time and then be off for a week, or they will work for 10 days and be off for four. They work a combination of such. A lot of people who work their oil and gas job will have a separate commercial interest going on when they have days off. When the number of oil and gas jobs is reduced, it affects every other sector of Alberta's economy because they are self-funding another project on the go.

A common saying in Alberta is “we're funding our farming habit one way or the other”. A lot of guys will either pick up a job servicing gas wells in their area or they will drive logging trucks. I know a number of guys who farm year-round and they drive logging trucks in the winter. They already have a big rig sitting in their yard so they get a commercial licence, insure the truck, and go logging. They bring in more income that way. These are just some of the things that show the diversity of the economy in northern Alberta.

Then we have all the spinoff that comes from the diversification of our economy, one being the service industry. We also have welders who work for all three of the industries. They will do some welding at one of the sawmills, some welding on one of the oil lease sites, and some welding work for a farmer. The hotel and restaurant industry will service all three of these industries. We have a lot of schools in the area that educate all of the children who live in the towns and whose parents work in one of the three industries.

Alberta is one of the best regulated parts of the country and because of that we tend to be on the cutting edge of new technology, whether that be in farming, logging, or the oil patch.

A number of the lumber mills that I visited said that they were the first in the country to have the technology. When logs come into the mills, they are scanned, a picture is taken of them, and the computer does an algorithm on the value in those logs. Whether they cut two-by-fours, or two-by-eights, or two-by-fives out of a log, it is all planned by the computer as they come through the gate into the mill. The company that provided the technology to the mills is able to go and sell it around the world.

It is the same thing when it comes to the oil patch. The development of the flare stack technology and the ability to create electricity off what used to be flared, was developed in Alberta. Now we go around the world and sell that technology.

People who say that Alberta should have worked harder to diversify its economy should check out what we are doing in engineering, in innovative farming practices, and in harvesting logs.

Our logging companies have a 100-year plan on how they will harvest the logs in northern Alberta. It is fascinating to watch.

Oil and gas is being depressed because of oil prices and a lack of pipelines. It is a huge problem for Alberta. The logging industry is under a couple of threats. The species at risk legislation and cariboo are causing consternation with the logging industry, as well as the softwood lumber agreement. These are the other things that are causing instability in the marketplace. People are not ready to invest in things like that.

Also about a third of the canola crop is laying underneath the snow right now. This is causing a significant hardship for our farmers in the area. Our farmers typically do not have the margins to pay significantly, at the oil and gas level, so they typically pick up oil and gas workers as well.

All of these things are working together. The three major sectors in my riding have significant instability. They are unable to invest right now, because they are unsure of where we will go.

On top of all of these things, the Liberal government is now putting an extra burden on all of these employers and employees by bringing in a new CPP tax hike. This CPP tax hike is going to make it more expensive to hire people. It is also going to cost more for the current employees, which is what we are looking at in northern Alberta right now.

A lot of companies are surviving with a zero margin. If they can get their costs out right now, they are happy to come and do the work. In some cases, they are doing the work at a loss purely to keep their guys so when the price comes back around, they will have the good guys working for them.

What the CPP tax hike will do is drive the costs up even higher, making it more difficult for companies to survive through this economic downturn. It will do nothing for seniors right now. The entire reason why the Liberal government is bringing this in right now, as they have told us, is to help seniors.

This is not going to help them. It is completely preposterous for the Liberals to say that they will bring this in to help seniors, and then say that it will only help seniors 40 years from now. It is incredibly frustrating to watch the government, completely oblivious to the fact of what is happening in northern Alberta, throwing this on there and saying that it is doing it to help seniors. I am at a loss for words to say how frustrating this is.

I know many of my colleague have raised a lot of similar points and I hope we can continue to do this. I feel the government should reconsider its position on the CPP tax hike, go back to the drawing board and come back with something that will not be so detrimental to our economy.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am curious if my colleague from Peace River—Westlock believes the CPP itself is important and if it is, should we make it sustainable for 100 years like the logging industry? If he does not think it is, should we get rid of it?

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, when I was first employed, I discovered that I was not allowed to take home all my pay. I was getting paid $5.90 an hour, which was minimum wage. I did the calculation on my hours worked and on how much I should be paid. However, I was told that I had to pay CPP, taxes and all sorts fun stuff, which was deducted from my wages. It was a bit of a shocker to me. However, retirement was not on my radar at that point either. It was something that cued me to look at this.

The system is in place and many people rely on it. I am not in any way advocating that we should get rid of it. What I am saying though is that it is just one of the tools that Canadians are using to fund their retirement.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the member talked about the first time he received his paycheque, I am sure this is why he became a Conservative. We have discovered that there is a lot of money being taken out of our pockets and this is what the trick is with the bill.

Members may not know that the gentleman is the father of two. I played with them on Wednesday, and they were very energetic. If the government proceeds with this attitude of taking more money from the pockets of the people instead of letting them make their own preferences and their own choices, what does he think this will do for the future of his children?

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely why I became involved and why I came here. I was not that into the whole what happens in Ottawa until I had children and had to look to the future. When we have children, suddenly the future becomes much larger in our field of vision, so that is precisely why I am involved.

What is the government doing for our children? It is saddling them with a massive debt that they will have to pay off. When I address the government, I do it often from the perspective of my children. Why do the Liberals not care about the children?

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we have good, strong national leadership that has led to the provinces and all regions saying yes to the bill. When we have provincial jurisdictions and Canadians as a whole saying yes to the bill, why is the Conservative Party is voting against it?

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians as a whole are saying that the government is spending too much money. When the member says that the Liberals are bringing leadership, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business would argue otherwise, and it has said so repeatedly.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

moved that Bill C-306, An Act to establish a Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day and to recognize the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 as an act of genocide, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to begin the debate on my private member's bill, the Crimean Tatar deportation memorial day act. It shows the terrible depths to which humanity can fall. It is a reason why the House is again taking up debate on a matter of genocide. It is not the first and, sadly, not the last time that we will consider events of the past and decide whether we will come to denounce them as genocide.

It is a topic on which Canada has been a world leader. We have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. That is a statute enacted after the Second World War.

Article II of the statute defines genocide as:

...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Canada has made several recognitions in the past. Most recently, the House passed a motion, proposed by my colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, recognizing the ongoing genocide waged against the Yazidis by ISIS.

The recognition that is most relevant to Crimea was raised in 2008. The House declared the Holodomor as a genocide. It was the forced starvation of Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933. That historic act of recognition was the result of the hard work of my colleague, the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. That legislation brought about Canada's first official recognition and denunciation of an atrocity committed by the Soviet Union and masterminded by Joseph Stalin.

It is therefore fitting that today we should discuss the terrible crime committed by the Soviet Union against the indigenous people of Crimea in 1944 and their relevance to what has happened in Crimea in the last two years. We cannot separate the deportation in 1944 from Russia's theft of Crimea from Ukraine 70 years later. The same evil ideology and disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms of every man and woman is at work. It is a regime that tore more than 200,000 people from their homes, dropped them in a remote part of Central Asia and started a war with a peaceful neighbouring country in order to steal territory. That is why the preamble to this bill draws attention to the renewed persecution faced by the Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea. It categorically states that Canada will never recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

First, we must turn back 70 years to the deportations.

In May of 1944, the Soviet army reconquered Crimea, which had been under Nazi occupation since 1941. The Soviet army was not a liberator for the Crimean Tatars though. It arrived bearing an order signed by Stalin condemning their entire nation to exile.

On May 18, 1944, Soviet secret police forces, the dreaded NKVD, began rounding up Crimean Tatars at their homes. They were packed onto cattle cars and sent on a long journey to Central Asia, thousands of kilometres away. Many left with little more than the clothes on their backs. Their homes, livestock, and possessions were all gone. Anyone who tried to escape was shot.

For many, the trains were deadly because many Tatar men were away serving in the Soviet military. The deportees were predominantly women, children, and the elderly. Many of the latter two succumbed to malnutrition and dehydration, or the diseases that quickly spread in the overcrowded cattle cars. Those who made it to their place of exile were greeted by nothing.

There was no food or accommodation for anyone. Lacking shelter, clothing, and virtually all necessities of life, it is estimated that almost 20% of all of the Crimean Tatars died in 1944 and 1945. Stalin intended to remove the Tatars from history, too. Following the deportations, towns in Crimea were renamed, mosques were destroyed, and books in the Crimean Tatar language or about them were burned.

Famously, their entry in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia was removed. What possible justification could there be for this action? Stalin accused the Crimean Tatars of treason against the Soviet Union, but tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars had just risked their lives fighting for the Red Army against Hitler. Eight were even decorated with the Soviet Union's highest award for bravery.

After 1944, that history was deliberately suppressed. The Crimean Tatars would remain confined to exile in central Asia for more than 40 years. Their homes were given to settlers from outside of Crimea, their language was banned, and their children were forced to study in Russian. Conditions remained harsh even after Stalin's death. In 1956, the Tatars were officially banned from returning to Crimea. In 1967, the Soviet regime rescinded its own false treason charges against the Tatars, but it maintained the ban on them returning to Crimea. It even denied that the Crimean Tatars were a nationality at all.

Only the collapse of the Soviet Union brought an end to their exile. In 1988, the survivors who had held on to their identity, language, and culture began moving back to Crimea. They did so because the Soviet Union was now just too weak to stop them. There were late recognitions by the Soviet Union and Russia that an injustice had been committed. That is true, but the Crimean Tatars have never been compensated by either state for the loss of life, property, and liberty that they suffered in exile.

I do not expect to find much disagreement in the House that the events I have described constitute genocide against the Crimean Tatars. Indeed, it was always clear that the Soviet regime intended to destroy the Crimean Tatars as a nation through exile and banishment. However, in turning to the present, we can see that 1991 was not the end of the Crimean Tatars' pain.

The country that the Crimean Tatars returned to in 1991 was the newly independent Ukraine. Conditions were poor there, with a very weak economy and limited employment or housing, but they were home in Crimea, and Ukraine was tolerant. They formed their own representative bodies, the Mejlis and the Qurultay, and some of their leaders were even elected to the Ukrainian parliament.

Earlier this year, I had the honour of meeting one the great Crimean Tatar leaders, Mustafa Jemilev, as did a number of my colleagues. Mr. Jemilev is a long-time member of the Ukrainian parliament and a former chairman of the Mejlis. He was deported to Uzbekistan when he was just six months old.

As a young man, he was expelled from university for joining illegal Crimean Tatar underground movements and was arrested for refusing to join the Soviet army. He spent 15 years of his life in Soviet prisons for peacefully resisting the Communist regime. At one point, he conducted a hunger strike for 303 days. He lived only because he was force-fed. Jemilev is celebrated as a dissident and freedom fighter by his people and by much of the world, but today he is exiled from his homeland again.

After the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Crimean Tatars are again under threat. Their elected representative body, the Mejlis, has been banned as an extremist organization by Russian authorities. Many of their leaders, such as Mr. Jemilev and his successor, Refat Chubarov, have been banned from Crimea. These stories of exile, return, and renewed pain are common to many Crimean Tatars.

I recently met another survivor of the deportation, Ayshe Seitmuratova. She was seven years old when the secret police came for her family in their village outside of Kerch. Ayshe grew up in Uzbekistan and tried to study her people's past. When she was a graduate student, the KGB seized her research documents and sentenced her first to house arrest, and then sent her to a prison colony in a remote part of Russia. She fled for the United States in the late 1970s. She returned when the U.S.S.R. collapsed, and opened a home to care for seniors in Crimea. She has remained in Crimea under Russian occupation, always a thorn in their side. She told me that at 80 years old, having survived deportation, exile, and prison, she is not afraid of the authorities. She has already seen everything that they can throw at her.

However, others who have tried to resist from within Crimea do so at great peril. The deputy chairman of the Mejlis, Ilmi Umerov, was confined to a psychiatric institution and was only released after international pressure was applied. Another deputy is in prison. Other so-called activists have disappeared without a trace. Crimean Tatar media outlets have been closed, including the ATR TV network. Tatar language schools have been shuttered. Mosques have been vandalized. Gatherings to remember the 1944 deportations have been banned in every year of the Russian occupation, though many defy the authorities.

These acts of persecution and marginalization directed against the Crimean Tatars are an echo of 1944. They are being carried out by the regime of Vladimir Putin that no longer bothers to hide its nostalgia for the Soviet Union. Indeed, they are even rehabilitating Joseph Stalin, and doing so to torment his victims. What other explanation could there be for building monuments to the dictator in Crimean cities like Yalta and Simferopol? The chasm between Putin's plan for the world and the Ukrainian wishes for their country could not be greater. Tatars are now fleeing prosecution to other parts of Ukraine, and almost 10,000 have done so since the illegal annexation of Crimea.

In 2015, Ukraine's parliament officially declared the deportation of 1944 a genocide. They have issued a call for the rest of the world to respond, and I would like Canada to answer. I am pleased that in the short time since I introduced this bill, I have already received the support of the Canadian Association of Crimean Tatars, the League of Ukrainian Canadians, the International Council in Support of Ukraine, and many other individuals. Just this week, I received letters of support from Mr. Jemilev and Mr. Chubarov, along with the support of Ayshe Seitmuratova. I am especially honoured to have the support of the Crimean Tatars' people's representatives.

Now is the time for this House to take action to show our support for the Crimean Tatars. We have clear, irrefutable evidence of a genocide, planned and executed by Stalin's regime in 1944, one that did not truly end until the Soviet Union collapsed. We understand that these events are the textbook definition of genocide: acts committed with the intent to destroy an ethnic group through inflicting terrible conditions that would lead to the group's destruction. And we know very well what is happening to Crimean Tatars today in illegally occupied Crimea at the hands of Putin.

We are a loyal friend of Ukraine. It was a peaceful home to Crimean Tatars for more than two decades. Canada has never hesitated to make our nation's position clear. Whether it takes five months or 50 years, we will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea. This House needs to make our position officially known to the world.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to acknowledge that in our present day we do have recourse with international courts for present-day atrocities. It is the distant historical matters, such as my hon. colleague's motion is about, that really do rely on the political process. Given the nature and the scale of the crime that is surrounding this motion here today with the Crimean Tatars, does my friend not believe that we should be focusing our discussion on that historical atrocity? Does he also plan to table any reports or evidence that can go along with this documentation on the Sürgünlik genocide?

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have to look at the past, but it is absolutely linked to what is going on today in Ukraine.

It was a terrible thing that happened to the Crimean Tartars. The deportation was horrible, and they are still suffering. I truly believe that we have to link the past with the present to get the full impact of this and recognize that, indeed, it was genocide. We definitely have to keep both the past and the present in mind.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, as a third generation, proud Ukrainian and a member of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, I thank the member for the work he is doing.

Have other countries recognized the Soviet's atrocities as genocide besides Canada? I wonder if he could tell me roughly how many.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, yes, other countries have. The forced famine in Ukraine, I believe, has been recognized by 13 countries. The genocide of the Crimean Tartars has been recognized by Ukraine. Canada is being challenged to be the second to recognize this genocide.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2016 / 1:45 p.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will rephrase the question I just asked. Because we are not dealing with present-day atrocities, which have their own recourse in international courts, but are dealing with a historical genocide, are there any supporting documents that will be going into the archives, along with this motion, on the history of this important event? Will the member be tabling any of those?

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is well known that this atrocity happened. We do not have to do too much hard digging. It is well recognized that these people were deported. It is well known that there was an attempt to eradicate them, essentially. It is a historical fact, and certainly there is a lot of documentation.

However, I think we really have to key in on the fact that this has not ended. It is still, now, going on. People are not welcome in Crimea. We have a member of Parliament who cannot go back to Crimea. This is scandalous and shows that history is repeating itself.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak to private members' Bill C-306, Crimean Tatar deportation, or “Sürgünlik”, memorial day act.

Let us take a moment to remember this tragedy. In 1944, Soviet authorities forced the deportation of a vast number of minorities throughout the Soviet Union. This bill seeks to acknowledge the staggering number of deaths and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars, forcibly removed from their homes on the Crimean Peninsula. This tragedy continues to haunt the collective memory of Crimean Tatars and further strengthens the attachment they still feel for their peninsula.

Canada strongly condemns the terrible discrimination and mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 under the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin. The Soviet regime committed an affront to Canadians by committing an affront to the common human values that we all share, namely the fundamental right to live free from persecution and to forge one's own path in the world.

These fundamental rights and freedoms have been denied to a great many people, but rarely as brutally as to the Crimean Tatars. A day to commemorate the massive deportations of Tatars from the Crimean Peninsula to central Asia would raise awareness of a dark chapter in the history of humanity and give a voice to those who were killed during this terrible tragedy. That is why our government commemorated this day on May 19, 2016. We fully support designating a memorial day in honour of the Crimean Tatars.

History can guide our future endeavours. The tragedy of the Crimean Tatars underscores an important principle articulated by Lord Acton, who said, “A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its minorities.”

Canada is a great nation, a free nation, and its greatness is due in part to its Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which enshrines in law the protection of minority rights. As stated in subsection 15(1) of the charter:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

This principle of equality and protection for all, or human rights, seems so obvious to Canadians. Unfortunately, that principle has been violated in the past, and is still being violated in parts of the world today.

We are gathered here today as parliamentarians because we want to make our communities, Canadian society, and the entire world a better place. When we look around the globe, we see that too many tragedies are still taking place, and it seems that the universal protection of human rights and recognition of the inalienable nature of each individual's rights are distant notions in some cases.

At any given moment, countless human beings around the world are being punished and tortured simply for their religious beliefs. They are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. They are abused because of their gender and killed because of the colour of their skin. Too many governments commit acts of hatred and refuse to acknowledge the humanity they share with others.

Here in Canada, we know that we are stronger because of our differences and not in spite of them. We know that we are all equal and that we have basic human rights. In light of that, it is up to all of us to make Canada a strong advocate for human rights.

This government is known for its strong, unwavering commitment to human rights. Now more than ever, there is a need for human rights advocates, and Canada is in a better position than most countries to lead this fight. This government is being proactive and working hard to defend and solidify Canada's position on international human rights. We are building a safer world that is more stable and prosperous by interacting with it rather than withdrawing from the fight.

I would like to give a few examples. Canada now seeks clemency for all Canadians facing execution abroad. If Canada does not fight to protect the lives of each of its citizens, then the government has failed in its basic duty to protect them.

We announced our intention to ratify the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Torture is a scourge that must be eliminated. It has been shown time and time again that this barbaric practice is not effective and produces false information. It serves no purpose except to inflict suffering.

We also created the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion, because human rights requires a comprehensive approach and because our outreach efforts produce better results when we stand up for all rights abroad by combining all of our voices and skills.

We gave all of our heads of missions abroad the objective of defending human rights and the tools to achieve it. Their mandate letters also reflect the need to promote and defend human rights. Their actions will inspire many people throughout the world.

We are putting in place a new government-wide strategy to address the crisis in Iraq and Syria, which includes tripling the number of members in our training mission and investing $1.6 billion over three years in Iraq and the surrounding region. It should be noted that we have pledged $158 million of this amount to humanitarian work and support for stabilization in Iraq.

Daesh is a perversion of Islam, a vessel brimming with hate, and an affront to the entire world; together with our allies, we will fight this monstrosity. We are supporting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with new base funding of $15 million a year over the next three years.

We also reaffirmed our commitment to the empowerment of women by providing $16.3 million to women in the Middle East and North Africa. The world cannot be a just place when half the population does not have equal opportunity.

Thanks to the concerted efforts it is making right now, our government is getting results. We are making an important contribution. By focusing on promoting human rights and ensuring the rule of law and justice, Canada is paying tribute to the legacy of Crimean Tatars, a brave and resilient people whose strength of character is an example for everyone.

We must never forget their suffering and we must continue to commemorate May 18. However, it is not good enough just to reflect on this tragedy; we must take action. By promoting human rights, Canada is trying to prevent another tragedy such as this one from taking place in the future.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, as vice-chair of the international human rights subcommittee, I rise on behalf of my caucus in support of this motion and to speak to its intent.

Determining which historical events should be considered genocide, rather than, say, a crime against humanity or a war crime, is not a clear-cut matter, and no agreed upon formal process exists. For atrocities that are committed during the present time, we have recourse to international courts and tribunals, but these bodies typically do not involve themselves in distant historical matters.

To prosecute present day crimes, investigators amass evidence, build cases against individuals, make formal charges, and interview potential witnesses. In effect, the formal machinery of justice is set in motion. Sadly, no such machinery exists for genocides that may have occurred in the past. The process in fact is entirely political.

As we know, when accusations of genocide are made, the details are often hotly disputed, particularly when dealing with an event in the distant past. Over time, partisans emerge, and wield oftentimes radically different versions of facts.

Parliaments get involved, bills are passed, and resolutions are supported, declaring a particular event to be a genocide. Curiously, this is often done without investigations being conducted or reports being tabled, or even without first establishing an agreed upon definition of genocide. What one needs to do is secure a vote. It is a curious process, when we think about it, yet genocide is a profoundly serious matter.

When we seek to designate a particular event as a genocide, we are compelled to exhaustively research the subject. We should consult the very best legal and historical experts available. We should carefully weigh all available evidence and testimony.

Genocides are such a grave matter that we, all of us, have a responsibility to the past and to the future to get it right. We have an obligation to the truth that should transcend present political considerations. One thing a debate about genocide should never be is a cynical political outreach tool by partisan interests to woo important demographics within someone's country.

Genocide is defined in article 2 of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

We are debating the bill today due in large part to motivation on the part of the Parliament of Ukraine. In November of last year, the Ukrainian parliament recognized the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars by the Soviet regime in1944 as a genocide, and established May 18 as an official day of commemoration. Subsequently, Kiev has been urging the parliaments of allied nations to adopt a similar official day of recognition. Here we are today.

While researching the bill, I noted that among mainstream independent historians, consensus does not exist at this time as to whether the events of 1944 constitute genocide. Let me be clear that what was done to the Tatars in Crimea in 1944 is a crime of abominable dimensions. Certainly the NDP will be supporting the bill.

My remarks should be interpreted more as a lament about process. It's a lament that we, the international community, do not have a less politicized way of determining what is and is not a genocide with respect to historical events. Parliaments are not the ideal places to determine such matters. This was in fact noted by Canada's current Minister of Foreign Affairs during another debate about genocide in this chamber last spring.

One curious thing I noted while reading the text of the bill is that it spends almost as much time enumerating the alleged crimes of the present day Russian Federation as it does those committed in 1944. In fact, much of the bill reads like an indictment of Vladimir Putin instead of Joseph Stalin, and this is unfortunate.

The scale of the forced expulsion of the Tatars of Crimea in 1944 was horrific, horrific enough to merit its own debate here. We should resist the urge to use a debate about a possible genocide that occurred in history as a pretext for a narrative against a regime we dislike in the present, no matter how awful that regime may be. The victims of 1944 deserve better. Their descendants deserve better. So let us take a moment and look at the history.

In April of 1944, Soviet forces regained control of Crimea from its German occupiers, who had controlled it for two and a half years. The re-conquest was hardly completed when the Crimean Tatars were deported en masse on the largely false accusation of having collectively collaborated with the Nazis. In a matter of three days, approximately 180,014 Crimean Tatars were deported from the peninsula. Adjusting for natural deaths, historian Michael Rywkin calculates that roughly 42,000 Crimean Tatars perished by May of 1949 as a result of the deportation. Other historians place the number considerably higher.

Social anthropologist, Greta Uehling, has stated this about Stalin's actions:

The systematic erasure of the Crimean Tatars was holistic in nature. Crimean Tatar place names were changed to Soviet ones; mosques were turned into movie theatres (or worse); homes, livestock and gardens were given away; and mention of Crimean Tatars was deleted or abbreviated in reference works. Crimean Tatars were not allowed to reside in, or speak of, their homeland. It wasn’t even possible to preserve a Crimean Tatar identity in personal documents.

Due to the sweeping nature of this ethnic cleansing, the remnants of the dispersed population are not considered a diaspora, but a population in exile.

In fact, the term sürgün is used by the Crimean Tatars to refer to the deportation. It means “expulsion” as well as “exil” in Turkish. By extension, sürgün refers to violent expulsion and the prolonged exile. Since 1944, the sürgün is at the centre of the Crimean Tatar's collective life and, consequently, central to their identity as Crimean Tatars.

In more recent times, the Tatars of the Crimea have almost uniformly opposed the Russian Federation's annexation of the Crimea in 2014. Since this time, according to Amnesty International, Crimean Tatars have faced repressive measures, from media outlets being shuttered, to activists being arrested, and disappeared. Tatars have not been allowed to publicly commemorate the day of remembrance of the deportation.

In April of this year, and confirmed by their court in September, Russia banned the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar assembly, accusing it of extremism. As a result, anyone involved in one of the more than 250 local mejlis across Crimea risks arrest.

For Tatars, these circumstances are understandably associated with the events of 1944. Indeed, in the minds of Tatars of Crimea, a straight line can be drawn from today, all the way back to Catherine the Great's takeover of the peninsula in 1783.

Sadly, relations between the Crimean Tatars and the rest of Ukraine have been less than ideal through the years. One could even describe them as tense. It is striking to me that though the Ukraine was an independent state for 23 years prior to Russia's annexation of the Crimea in 2014, it made no effort over this time to formally recognize the 1944 ethnic cleansing as a genocide.

Better late than never, I suppose, because politics is politics.

To conclude, let me clearly stress once again: USSR dictator Joseph Stalin's forced expulsion of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 was one of the more heinous criminal acts committed during a century brimming with such crimes.

By my reading of article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, this—

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure and an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-306. I have to thank my colleague, the member for Edmonton Griesbach for his hard work and research on the bill, and for the hard work that he has done with the Tatar community across Canada, and indeed even in Crimea.

It is unfortunate that these horrific events have occurred in history, but I think it is the responsibility of us as parliamentarians today to recognize these human rights abuses, to recognize these genocides, and to commit ourselves as parliamentarians to making sure that we are on the record in condemning those actions.

One of the greatest speakers to ever grace a Westminster parliament was Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

What we are doing in Bill C-306 today is looking at the atrocities that were committed and perpetrated by Joseph Stalin, NKVD, the Soviet Union, and all of their thugs in orchestrating this genocide against the Crimean people, but also relating it to how history is repeating itself today in the Crimean peninsula under the leadership of Vladimir Putin as he tries to systematically degrade and reduce the ethnicity of the indigenous people of Crimea, the Tatars.

I have had many opportunities to travel to Ukraine. I have had many opportunities to meet these great people, here in Canada and in Ukraine. The Tatars are just some of the gentlest, most beautiful people members could ever speak to. They represent no threat to anyone. They cherish what they have, yet through history, especially under Russian and Soviet rule, have been targeted and murdered through various acts carried out by Russia or the Soviet Union.

If we just want to look at what happened under Joseph Stalin and his Communist regime, it does not only include what happened in 1944. Shortly after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviets denounced and refused to recognize the independent Republic of Crimea, of the Tatars. They then went out of their way to start using food as a weapon.

I am quite proud of the fact that this Parliament unanimously supported my private member's bill in 2008 to recognize the famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine and other areas of the Soviet Union, the Holodomor, as a genocide, and that we would have the last Saturday of every November as the national Holodomor Memorial Day.

It is very important that we recognize the fact that there was more than just the famine of 1932-33. There was the famine of 1920-21, 1932-33, and there was another one that was conducted around 1954. In the first two cases, the Holodomor of 1920-21 and 1932-33, the Crimean Tatars were targeted. They suffered greatly. In the Holodomor of 1932-33, where we saw roughly seven million people in and around Ukraine starve to death in about 15 months, what we witnessed on the peninsula and what has been clearly documented is that half the Crimean Tatar population were starved to death.

Their homes were raided and invaded. All their food stocks, all their farming livestock, all their produce that they had, anything that they had canned or put into storage was taken out of their homes, out of their villages, and they were forced to starve to death. It was a forced famine.

Let us move on to where we are today, looking at what happened in 1944. The mass deportation occurred in a time span of two days, when 32,000 NKVD agents of the Soviet Union loaded up every man, woman, and child and confiscated all their property. They put them into cattle cars, onto trains, and onto barges and deported them to gulags in Uzbekistan. More than 100,000 of them, almost 50%, starved on that journey. The rest were forced to work in forced labour camps in the gulags in Uzbekistan.

By every definition, that constitutes a genocide. Historians have written about this as being ethnic cleansing. This was targeted against the indigenous people of Crimea. They were targeted based on their religion. As was already noted in speeches today, the Russians took over their mosques and converted them into theatres. They took all their homes and handed them over to those who were faithful to the Bolsheviks and the Communist empire. Ultimately, what we have is a genocide.

Raphael Lemkin, the individual who coined the term “genocide”, lived through and witnessed the Holocaust, where he lost 49 of his own family. He witnessed the Holodomor and spoke about the Holodomor at great length and the Russification of the Ukrainian people, which was exactly what was happening in Crimea. That helped inform his opinion on what constitutes a genocide.

Raphael Lemkin, who was a Russian subject before the Holocaust, got out of Poland and with some family members in Lithuania was able to get to Sweden, and ultimately to America.

In article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948, as authored by Lemkin, it says genocide is “killing”. There are different ways to look at it. It is being targeted because of one's “national, ethnical, racial, or religious group”.

We are talking about the Tatars. Their religion is Muslim. They were very much a minority based on their religion. Their ethnicity, being the indigenous people, was Tatar, and again, they were the minority in the region.

There are five main things.

Killing members of the group;

Well, they killed half of them.

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

Picking up everybody, throwing them onto trains and barges, and moving them to Uzbekistan is causing mental and physical harm, especially when they were starved along way and their physical conditions were greatly diminished.

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

That definitely was done by the Soviet Union.

There are two other parts, but as long as one of those five sections is met, and in this case, three out of the five are met, no one should question whether this was a genocide perpetrated by the Soviet Union.

We have to recognize the fact that history is repeating itself today in Crimea. What we see from Vladimir Putin and the Russian regime is a little more sensibility, as they have not gone out and just started shooting Tatars on the street, but many of them have actually had to leave the country, and as was mentioned, the leader of the Crimean people, Mustafa Dzhemilev, who is a member of parliament in Ukraine and who has been the president of the organization for the Crimeans there, has been forced into exile. We have seen that, also, with Refat Chubarov and other Crimean leaders.

The Russians went in and the first thing they did was shut down freedom of the press by shutting down the papers and radio stations. Then they shut down their political ability to work together at the Meijles, their parliament. That was closed. Then the Russians made sure that they could no longer even go to their mosques to gather.

There is no freedom of association, no freedom of political affiliation, and no freedom of religion.

We need to recognize that Vladimir Putin is trying, again, to repeat history. As Winston Churchill said, we have to make sure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. This is our opportunity to take a stand and make sure that we keep Russia in check and do not appease them. We have to stand up for the people of Crimea and the people of Ukraine.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak. On this particular issue, there is a great deal of willingness to attempt to understand the situation. For me personally as someone who comes from Winnipeg, I appreciate that we have the Canadian Museum for Human Rights there. If members have the opportunity to visit this facility, they would see that the issue of genocide and a multitude of different types of human rights are well displayed. It is quickly becoming a world-class museum. It is one of the jewels that we have in Canada and it happens to be located, as a national museum, in the city of Winnipeg.

On issues of this nature, I can assure all members of the House and Canadians that we have a government that is truly listening and will continue to do so.

I rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-306,, an act to establish a Crimean Tatar deportation Sürgünlik memorial day.

On May 18 of every year, people around the world are reminded of the widespread suffering and exile inflicted on the Crimean Tatar population by the Soviet Union. Soviet oppression included the curtailment of Tatar cultural rights, the outright persecution of their intellectual class, and the deaths of thousands of Crimean Tatars as a result of sweeping purges and the collectivization of agriculture.

As a part of the widespread deportation that took place throughout the Soviet Union in the 1940s, the entire Crimean Tatar population, representing one-fifth of the entire population of Crimea, was forcibly expelled from the peninsula in 1944.

The deportation was undertaken as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. Despite the fact that tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars had served in the Red Army and fought bravely against the Nazi occupation, in the three-day period between May 18 to 20, over 200,000 Crimean Tatars were given a mere 30 minutes to gather their loves ones and possessions before being loaded onto cattle cars, headed for central Asia, Siberia, and the Urals.

Tens of thousands would die en route, never to see their homes again. Those who survived the journey were faced with the prospects of forced labour, squalid living conditions, disease, and starvation as they began their new lives in these remote settings.

Owing to these conditions, large numbers of the Crimean Tatar population died both during transport and within the five years that immediately followed their resettlement. The great loss of life, disruption to their culture, and the denial of their return home was an atrocity that this government rightly condemns, and that we must never forget.

Somehow, exiled Crimean Tatars managed to build a life, but it was never complete, because it was culturally, spiritually, and emotionally disconnected from their homeland. Home remained Crimea and it remained as such in their hearts and minds, creating a renewed sense of national identity among the Crimean Tatars from their deep-seated connection to the Crimean peninsula.

In 1989, after nearly five decades, Crimean Tatars were finally allowed to return to their homeland, but the scars remain.

Stalin's actions in Crimea were an affront to the common human values we all share, the fundamental right to live free from persecution and to chart our own path in the world. These fundamental freedoms were denied to many, but few more brutally than the Crimean Tatars.

The world must never forget the tragedy that befell the Crimean Tatar population. That is why this government commemorated this day on May 18, 2016.

We fully support the creation of a memorial day for the Crimean Tatars. By recognizing this day, Canada pays tribute to the Crimean Tatars. We are reminded of the horrors they suffered, but also inspired by the indomitable will and the resilience they have demonstrated. Despite the unimaginable burdens inflicted, they persevered, and while they carry the burden of the past with them, they stand tall today and their culture thrives. They are unbroken, a people who demonstrate humanity's fortitude. They are an inspiration for all of us.

By acknowledging their tragedy, we also are reminded of the values we must fight to protect, the values robbed from them under the Soviet regime. Of particular note is respect for justice, and the need for rule of law. In a world where these values are increasingly under attack, they demand our protection. The only way we can deliver justice is to follow the very best standards of it. That is how we honour those who were viciously denied justice and how we demonstrate to today's despots our convictions, our principles, and our will.

Therefore, we must remember that when we look at the bill before us now, of course it is easy to issue a political declaration, but politicizing justice is not the answer, and it is not the Canadian way. Justice is not served when we presume to prejudge the outcome of a necessary and eventual investigative and judicial process. The victims of the Crimean Tatar deportation and their families deserve what was robbed from them, and that starts with the rule of law.

While we have various pieces of this tragedy, no independent international investigation has taken place into the events of 1944. The legal test to be met for genocide in international law is a high one and we support an investigation and the collection of evidence toward that determination. However, if we prejudge it now, we undermine the law. We can help repair what was taken only if we follow the legal path that was denied, which includes proving beyond a reasonable doubt that such atrocities were perpetrated as part of a campaign to destroy, in whole or in part, an identifiable national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.

We therefore take seriously the need to rely on factual historical evidence and expert determination on whether the deportation of Crimean Tatars meets the threshold for genocide as laid out in the 1948 genocide convention. For this reason, Canada, like our international partners, including the United States and the European Union, has opted over the years to mark this anniversary through official statements on the forced deportation.

Our government is committed to remembering this historical tragedy, and to protecting the rule of law. That is why when it comes to genocide, our government has sought the most rigorous application of the term according to the law. Horrifying situations such as this require a strong memorial and a testament to what was endured. Canada will do that. However, it is not for politicians, even with the best intentions, to change what is a uniquely legal term such as genocide.

Surviving Tatars and their families deserve the due diligence of a thorough investigation, done by an independent body. That is the proper way to make a determination of genocide. This approach is respectful both in preserving the integrity of the legal definition of genocide and to the historical memory and tragedy of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars.

Meanwhile, our government does not lose sight of the ongoing challenges facing the present day community of Crimean Tatars and of the responsibility of the international community, including Canada, to act in this regard.

Like the member opposite, I have had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine over the last little while, and one of the most touching moments I experienced was when I was in the city of Kiev and had a tour of the Holodomor museum. That is an issue I raised shortly after first being elected as the member of Parliament for Winnipeg North. I understand deeply why Canadians as a whole look abroad at some of the horrific actions that have been taken and made by governments.

I believe Canadians, as a whole, want a government that follows the rule of law, to make sure that what we are doing is right and just. We understand many of the things that have taken place and the importance of investigations. We understand there is a need to act. There is a little girl in front of the Holodomor museum in Kiev, and I am pleased that a replica of it is now in front of the Manitoba legislature.

Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day ActPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The time provided for 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 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, November 14, 2016, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)