Madam Speaker, today is the Republic Day of Azerbaijan, a day to honour the formation of the first parliamentary republic and first democratic, legal and secular state in the Turkish and Islamic world.
The republic, among other things, vowed to guarantee all its citizens within its borders free and full political and civil rights regardless of their ethnic origin, religion, class, profession or gender. Unfortunately, the republic only survived 23 months in its first iteration, as it was taken over by Bolshevik Russia and it remained part of the Soviet Union for 70 years.
Since its restoration, however, Azerbaijan has remained an ally to Canada through the partnership for peace programme through NATO.
Today, as chair of the Canada-Azerbaijan Friendship Group, I am joining the people of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Canadians and people around the world in celebrating Azerbaijan Republic Day.
Happy Republic Day.