By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service
OTTAWA — Canadians must take sides and speak out against anti-Semitism brewing within the country in order to commemorate the Holocaust to ensure it is never repeated, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a ceremony for the annual Holocaust remembrance day, Kenney and MPs from all four parties of the House of Commons each praised survivors of the Holocaust and denounced those who try to deny the events of the past or promote hatred toward the Jewish people. Kenney said silence is never an option in the face of anti-Semitism.
“So when the ancient and pernicious hatred for the Jewish people is manifested in our own day and even in our own country, we must take sides. We must speak out. We must not be neutral,” Kenney said, drawing applause from several hundred people gathered at a hall in the Canadian War Museum, near downtown Ottawa.
“We must refuse to tolerate the use and abuse and international forums and even academic institutions to make a scapegoat of the Jewish homeland. We must withdraw public support from those who promote hatred or who defend terror.”
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said that everyone shares a responsibility in denouncing hatred to resolve existing conflicts because the horror of the Holocaust touches everyone.
“In the Middle East, we are all aware that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict too often breeds hatred and desperation. There will be no solution to this conflict as long as the Palestinians and the Arab countries and Iran do not recognize Israel’s right to exist,” Duceppe said. “The Palestinian people must also have their state.”
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff also praised former Bloc MP Richard Marceau’s efforts from several years earlier to support legislation originally proposed by NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis to establish Holocaust Memorial Day.
“We keep it alive in our support for the state of Israel and our commitment to stand against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism,” said Ignatieff. “We keep it in memory and in our resolve to stand also against any state that preaches or practises the politics of hatred, especially in international forums.”
NDP Leader Jack Layton said he was touched after laying a wreath with a survivor who told him her story about jumping from a train.
He said humanity must do everything in its power to ensure history does not repeat.
“It means that we must remain vigilant against any form or expression of anti-Semitism, no matter wherever or whenever or however it is expressed,” said Layton.
Organizers said the event was moved from outdoors to the museum because of poor weather and a massive protest organized by the Canadian Tamils on Parliament Hill who were denouncing the deaths of thousands of civilians in the midst of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka.