Statement: Komagata Maru

On Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 in Statements

Monsieur le Président, je remercie tous mes collègues de cette occasion d’ajouter quelques mots.

This has been a profoundly moving moment in the House, particularly because we are so honoured to have so many people here in the galleries whose families and whose lives have been directly touched.

Although this was 102 years ago, it was a shameful episode in Canadian history. To all of them present here, and to all of their families, and to anyone they can reach out to whose lives have been scarred by the knowledge that a country like Canada could turn away hundreds of people on the Komagata Maru, we are not just sorry but we reach out and ask for their personal forgiveness. We ask that they communicate that to everyone in their community.

This will never happen again. We know that because Canada is a changed country, although in 1939 we turned away the MS St. Louisfrom Halifax harbour. We know that racism, anti-Semitism, indifference, and intolerance have no place in our country.

Before closing, because many good words have been said, I thank my Prime Minister. I thank the Leader of the Opposition , the leader of the New Democratic Party, and my colleague from the Bloc. They all had strong words, not one of which I would disagree with.

However, I want to add thanks to the only leader who happens to be a British Columbian. I want to recognize the contribution of someone who I think was the first person in political life recently who raised the issue of the scandal. That was the first Indo-Canadian elected as an MLA, Moe Sihota, an NDP from British Columbia, who raised this issue and fought for it. He was also minister of environment, which is how I knew him. I wanted to add my thanks to him for reminding us that it is never, ever too late. We are Canadian, after all, we are good at it. It is never too late to say “I’m sorry”, and we are deeply sorry.

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