Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in a landmark ceremony, the City of Montreal bestowed honorary citizenship on Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish non-Jew who saved more Hungarian Jews in four months in 1944 than any single government, and whom the United Nations has called the greatest humanitarian of the 20th century.
The incredible heroism of Canada’s first honorary citizen, recognized also at the inauguration of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre’s Education Week, included: issuing Schutzpasses, diplomatic passes conferring immunity on their recipients and which saved some 20,000 Jews alone; establishing protected safe houses, which saved 30,000; and, in his most memorable rescue, causing Nazi generals to desist from blowing up the Budapest ghetto, saving 70,000 Jews in this act of heroism alone, showing that one person can make a difference and that one person can confront radical evil, can prevail and can transform history.
It was an honour to join Mayor Tremblay, city councillors and Holocaust survivors, such as Agnes Kent, herself saved by Wallenberg, as we note another important moment in Hungarian history, the 56th anniversary of the uprising against Soviet totalitarianism.
Raoul Wallenberg combined the courage to care with the commitment to act, inspiring us all in the struggle for justice, peace and human rights. May we honour his humanitarian legacy.