Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan has expressed his thanks to the Senate for unanimously supporting his Private Members Bill C-459 to establish a Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day and recognizes the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 as an act of genocide.
“I would like to express my appreciation and thanks to all parties for the support that I received," said Bezan. "I would also like to thank Senator Raynell Andreychuk, who sponsored my bill in the Senate and expedited its quick passage.”
On Tuesday in the House of Commons, in one motion moved by Bezan, the bill was deemed to have been read a second time, considered in committee, reported, concurred in, read a third time and passed. The bill then went the Senate, where it passed all stages on Wednesday. The bill received Royal Assent today (May 29, 2008) at Rideau Hall.
While it was Bezan's bill, it was truly a team effort. I for one found it deeply gratifying to witness the solidarity and goodwill between the Ukrainian community and so many of Canada's elected officials to see this bill go through. Equally (if not more) gratifying was the unity displayed between members of Canada's Ukrainian community on all sides of the political spectrum. A sign, perhaps, of the maturity and latent strength of the Ukrainian-Canadian community.
Amazingly (and shamefully), consent was being blocked on Tuesday by a number of government MPs. So, in an admirable spirit of non-partisanship and goodwill, Opposition MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Lib., Etobicoke Centre) crossed the aisle to work alongside Mr. Bezan on a series of intense negotiations with the Hon. Jason Kenney, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity). As a result of these negotiations, amendments were agreed to and an agreement struck to pass this historic bill at all stages.
“Discussions have taken place this afternoon among all parties and in the spirit of those two words, БІЛЬШ НІКОЛИ - “never again”, at the end of today’s debate there will be an unusual display of goodwill among all parties and respect for the millions who perished,” said Wrzesnewskyj.
It's not common (nor likely very easy) for politicians to put aside partisan differences. But in this case, they did, in order to focus on doing the right thing. And for that they are all to be commended.
“This bill is about recognizing a historic wrong ignored by the West," said Bezan. "The communist ideology of Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin targeted and exterminated millions of Ukrainian men, women and children through forced famine.”
The Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act not only establishes every fourth Saturday of November a memorial day commemorating this atrocity, but also recognizes the Holodomor as a genocide.
“It is important that this bill be recognized by Parliament and the Government of Canada, which will allow us to honour the victims and survivors of the Holodomor that are in Canada, Ukraine and around the world. It will also let Ukraine and the International community know that Canada supports calling Holodomor, a genocide,” said Senator Andreychuk.
Ukrainian President, Victor Yushchenko has been visiting Canada this week and had asked for Canada’s support in recognizing the Holodomor as genocide. Bezan met the President and personally discussed the bill with him on Monday during the President’s state visit to Ottawa.
The bill was introduced last year as Ukrainian-Canadians and the international community marked the start of the 75th anniversary of one of the most heinous crimes in modern history - the state-sponsored Famine-Genocide of 1932-33 perpetrated by the communist regime under Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin against the Ukrainian people.
Well done, Canada!