Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be here today to speak in support of Bill C-442. In fact, I would like to thank the member for Edmonton-Sherwood Park and the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas, as well as many persons in the House and outside of it, for their hard work on this bill.
As my colleague, the member for Edmonton-Sherwood Park, has stated, this bill proposes the creation of a national Holocaust memorial in Canada’s national capital region. It is long overdue.
Our government appreciates the importance of remembering and understanding all events throughout history, even those that are inconsistent with the values of Canadians. Given the magnitude of the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust in the extermination of millions of Jewish people, it is crucial that we pay tribute to the victims of this crime and to their families.
Last summer, with my mother and a good friend of mine, I visited a student rabbi. For some 30 years he has been a friend of my family. I visited his synagogue on Long Island and I learned a lot about the Jewish people who call Israel their home. It was quite impressive.
I must also acknowledge that a number of associations and centres across Canada are dedicated to remembering the Holocaust. I certainly would be remiss if I did not also mention the recently established Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which will allow people to learn about the values of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law, and indeed to remember such atrocities. Democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law are the things we stand up for in Canada and the things we try to spread around the world.
I am very proud to say that I believe this particular museum was made possible in no small part by today’s Prime Minister. Our government is very excited that this new museum broke ground in December 2008. While there are official plaques and monuments in Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario, it is indeed unfortunate, as the member suggested, that a federal memorial commemorating this very bleak period in our world’s history of humankind does not exist in Canada’s capital.
For these reasons, our government fully supports the intent of Bill C-442, and I am very confident that all members in the House would also agree that the ultimate objective of Bill C-442 is definitely justified and long overdue.
While I am sure all parties in both Houses of Parliament will certainly be in favour of this bill, I hope that the bill will also receive royal assent and that the national capital region will be graced with a national Holocaust monument in its midst. I am hopeful of that, as I think all members in the House are, but before arriving at that final stage, other events would have to transpire.
Of course, the minister would be expected to actively seek the interest of Canadians who would be willing to contribute their time and energy to this undertaking, but I am certain that a host of individuals would be interested in pursuing this endeavour and would together have a very positive impact on the realization of a national Holocaust monument and the content of it. I am looking forward to it, as I think most Canadians are.
Regarding the exact placement of the monument, the National Capital Commission has already established an inventory of potential sites. In accordance with its mandate and policies, the commission would identify appropriate sites from this inventory in consultation with the council. The commission would also approve the final design of the monument, with the construction phase commencing shortly thereafter.
Bill C-442 proposes to create a new council that would be responsible for spearheading a fundraising campaign for a Holocaust monument that would be established in this region. We suggest that it would not take very long to do so, because this is remembered by Canadians, and it is very important indeed to remember it.
With the pooling of the talents and resources of various stakeholder groups and committed individuals, the establishment of a national Holocaust monument in our national capital is feasible. I look forward to visiting it in a few short years, as I think many Canadians do.
Along with the many supportive actions by this government, our entire cabinet and our Prime Minister, my colleague from Edmonton-Sherwood Park has outlined many good reasons for this bill to proceed.
Indeed, I urge all members of this House to vote in favour of this important and necessary bill, just as I urge all members of the other place to do the same. Hopefully we will receive royal assent in due course thereafter.
This memorial will serve to forever remind Canadians and all visitors to this great country and this capital of one of the darkest periods and unimaginable genocides in recent history, so we do not forget and it never happens again.
To view the complete debate in the House of Commons click here