National Holocaust Memorial Act
Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I stand before the House today in support of Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.
On the one hand, the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazis are despicable and truly leave an empty, gut-wrenching feeling inside of me. On the other hand, ensuring that an open dialogue surrounding the Holocaust and other campaigns of genocide continues on an ongoing basis is integral for protecting current and future generations from similar plights.
Therefore, although discussions surround large scale atrocities, such as the Holocaust, can often be difficult to broach, raising awareness through open dialogue on the subject is certainly one of the most appropriate approaches for ensuring that similar campaigns of genocide and human rights abuses are not tolerated by members of the international community.
Currently, Canada’s national capital region lacks a public monument to honour the victims and Canadian survivors of the Holocaust. It is my belief that the establishment of such a memorial is long overdue. Other cities across Canada and around the world which already have such a monument include Toronto, Montreal, Washington, Berlin, Paris, Boston, Los Angeles and Dallas.
Just this past summer, I joined other parliamentarians in Israel, thanks to the Canada-Israel committee, and I had the honour of visiting the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial located in the heart of Jerusalem. This humbling experience evoked many emotions within me and, upon returning to Canada, it became clear to me that it was high time that the national capital region had a similar installation designed to honour and commemorate the millions of victims, as well as the survivors, of the Holocaust.
Hitler’s vile plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe led to the murder of six million men, women and children. In addition to the atrocities committed against the Jews of Europe, the Nazis also sought to eradicate vulnerable groups, such as disabled persons, the Roma and homosexuals, in their revolting systematic campaign of evil.
Many Canadians are familiar with the stories of the atrocities committed against these minority groups during this dark period in world history. From Anne Frank to Eli Wiesel, brutal personal accounts of misery and suffering shed light on the widespread carnage and mayhem perpetrated on an unrivalled scale by Hitler’s Nazis.
We, as Canadians, must make it our mission to ensure that a genocidal campaign such as the Holocaust is never allowed to occur again. The establishment of a public Holocaust monument in the national capital region would provide a tangible structure demonstrating Canada’s intolerance toward hate-filled ideologies and campaigns of genocide, such as the Holocaust.
Pursuant to this, the creation of a public Holocaust monument in the national capital region is necessary for ensuring that the Holocaust continues to have a permanent place in Canada’s consciousness and memory. We must resist viewing the Holocaust as a purely historical event as the seeds of hatred that spawned this brutality are still alive and, in some cases, continue to flourish in various regions of the world.
We need to actively work to deter and ultimately eliminate these hateful elements from sprouting up in mainstream political discourse through the refusal to accept these ideological underpinnings as anything other than the racist, anti-Semitic and bigoted positions that they are. More specifically, free and democratic societies, such as Canada, have a moral obligation to strongly condemn ideologies of hatred, anti-Semitism and despotism whenever and wherever they occur.
Canada has a responsibility to honour the memory of Holocaust victims as part of our collective resolve to never forget the atrocities that were committed upon them. The establishment of a Holocaust monument in the nation’s capital would greatly assist in creating an environment in which these atrocities will never be forgotten. The establishment of a national monument shall forever remind Canadians of one of the darkest eras of human history and of the dangers of state-sanctioned hatred and anti-Semitism.
The persistence of anti-Semitic attitudes and the dangers of state-sanctioned violence and hatred continue to haunt the international community, with the current conflict in Darfur serving as an example of ethnically targeted violence and genocide.
Not only would such a memorial raise awareness amongst future generations about the Holocaust, but it would also serve as a catalyst that demonstrates Canada’s refusal to let a future conflict escalate into the type of genocidal campaign that the Holocaust can accurately be described as.
Therefore, the erection of a Holocaust memorial will serve a dual purpose of honouring and commemorating the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, while drawing attention to the broader issue of state-sanctioned violence, genocide, anti-Semitism and hate-inspired ideologies that persistently rear their ugly heads. The monument will thus serve as a constant reminder, ensuring that we will not forget.
Next week marks the 30th anniversary of Holocaust Education Week in Canada. What better message can we send to the Canadian public that Parliament considers education an integral component in assisting future generations to fully understand the origins and consequences of the Holocaust than to commit to the erection of a memorial in our nation’s capital?
The Holocaust memorial in Ottawa will signify to Canadians and foreign delegates alike that Canada continues to be a stern ally in the battle against religious and ethnically driven persecution and intolerance, both at home and abroad. Therefore, it is my firm belief that a national monument will act as a tool to help future generations learn about the underlying origins of the Holocaust, as well as its consequences, which will consequently assist in preventing future acts of genocide around the world.
This will ensure that the educational component is in place, as teaching future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust will create an environment in which Canadians will continue with their refusal to forget through the 21st century and beyond.
I stand staunchly in support of Bill C-442. First and foremost, the creation of a national Holocaust memorial in the nation’s capital will better allow future generations of Canadians to become educated about the causes and consequences of the Holocaust itself. More broadly, the memorial will act as a symbolic gesture indicating Canada’s commitment to eradicating state-sanctioned violence backed by hate-filled ideologies that target a specific ethnic or religious minority.
Most important, the erection of such a monument will renew Canada’s pledge to never forget. I therefore call on all members of the House to wholeheartedly support this endeavour so that future generations of parliamentarians will be able to stand in the House and commit that Canada will never forget.