Mrs. Alexandra Mendes (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is with emotion that I wish to acknowledge today the 125th anniversary of the birth of Aristides de Sousa Mendes.
Sousa Mendes, a man of great courage and extraordinary integrity, deserves our admiration and respect. His acts of bravery in World War II must be remembered and honoured every year, but especially in 2010.
Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux, France, delivered over 30,000 visas between June and July of 1940 to refugees fleeing the Nazi horrors overtaking Europe. Twelve thousand of those visas were granted to Jews in whose faces doors were being closed one by one.
The heroism of Sousa Mendes and the use of his consular powers lies in the fact that Salazar, the then-prime minister of Portugal, ordered him to stop, an order he ignored and which put at risk the future of his diplomatic career.
Today, in the presence of his grandson Louis-Philippe Mendes, a proud Canadian, I am very pleased to pay tribute to this great citizen of Portugal who embodied humanity and sacrificed his career to save an incalculable number of lives.