Mr. Speaker, I will start my remarks by adding my voice and all those in the opposition party to join with the Prime Minister in offering our deepest condolences to the people of the Netherlands. As more information comes to light about this viscous attack, we are certainly with them in spirit.
Canada, of course, has a long history of being a partner to the Netherlands. To all of our Dutch friends both here in Canada and at home in Europe, we give our best wishes and deepest sympathies in the aftermath of this tragedy.
It is difficult to describe the horror felt by all of us in this place and by Canadians upon hearing of the brutal terrorist attack targeted at New Zealand's Muslim community by an avowed white supremacist.
Nothing we say today will heal the pain caused by this hate-filled, anti-Muslim, deranged individual. However, what we say today and tomorrow and the day after that has the power to stop others from experiencing the same pain in the future.
We stand in solidarity with the victims' families, with the people of New Zealand, with the Muslim community all over the world, and with all those who feel vulnerable and targeted because of this despicable act of terror. We offer our most heartfelt condolences to the victims' families.
Mothers and fathers had to explain to their children what happened, and had to assure them that the same thing would not happen to them the next time they go to the mosque to worship and pray. These conversations should never have to happen, not here in Canada, not anywhere.
Evil is real, and it takes many forms: Bigotry, hatred, racism and violence are among them. These forces must be met with both our finest virtue and our fiercest resolve. Hatred must be met with truth, cowardice with courage, bigotry with tolerance, and violence with justice.
The word “terrorism” has been used to describe random indiscriminate acts of violence intended to inspire fear in others. While that was certainly the intention of Friday's attacks, in many ways they were the exact opposite of random.
Fifty victims, all of them loved, all of them brave, all of them heroes and all of them Muslim.
Fourteen-year-old Sayyad Milne wanted to be a footballer when he grew up. His father said, “I remember him as my baby who I nearly lost when he was born .... A brave little soldier. It's so hard ... to see him just gunned down by someone who didn't care about anyone or anything.”
Abdul Aziz did not hide when the gunman approached. He fought back to defend other worshippers, initially with only a credit card reader, and then subsequently chasing after him with a gun that the shooter had emptied and dropped. What bravery in the face of such horror.
Mr. Aziz survived. Others, like Naeem Rashid, who also fought back, did not.
These are a few of the names we must remember and must never forget.
As leaders, we must be as forceful in our words as we are in our example. We must seize opportunities to ensure that Muslims and all others, of all faith communities, feel secure to live and practise their faith, both inside houses of worship and outside of them.
This tragic event is bringing back memories of the terrible attack that happened at the Quebec City mosque under similar circumstances. People who had come to pray and to reflect had their lives cut short by hatred. For the victims' loved ones the pain is still fresh, and our thoughts will always be with them.
We must be unequivocal in our condemnation of all doctrines of racial superiority or exclusionary ethnic or religious prejudice.
All of the great societies in human history have been founded on shared civic values, not on isolated ethnic nationalism. Canada has from its inception been a country built on values that transcend religious, ethnic and linguistic divides. This is who we were founded to be. This is who we are, and this is who we will always be. Those who think otherwise have no place in our democracy.
One need not look beyond the last few days to see evidence of this. Canadians have visited mosques, dropped off gifts and otherwise taken steps to show their love and goodwill for their Muslim neighbours. l visited a mosque in my riding this weekend, and I know that many of my colleagues on all sides of the House have also done so. We have all paid similar visits in our own communities. These spontaneous outpourings from people everywhere show us that Canadian pluralism is not in the first instance defined by politicians but rather by the open hearts and helping hands of the Canadian people.
I say to my colleagues in all parties, we certainly have our differences on important policy matters that deserve rigorous and spirited debate, but on this, the very passion and humanity of our Canadian society, there can be no debate.
In conclusion, the words we say today are important, but words today are not enough. We must commit to turning words into concrete action, action to defend a concept of Canada rooted in shared civic values, respect for the principle of universal human dignity and freedom of religion for all. We must fight terrorism. We must stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters, people of all faiths, people of all racial backgrounds.
The words we say today are important, but words are not enough. We must commit today to turn words into concrete action to defend a concept of Canada rooted in shared civic values, respect for the principle of universal human dignity and freedom of religion for all. We must fight terrorism. We must stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and people of all faiths and all ethnicities.
Conservatives are firmly committed to this effort. We will work hard to breathe new life into the immortal words of the great John Diefenbaker, spoken on this floor almost 60 years ago, when he said:
I am Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who [shall] govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.