Canada OKs Holocaust memorial just before gov’t falls


TORONTO (JTA) — Canada’s Parliament passed a bill to establish a national Holocaust monument, just hours before the government fell. 

The bill was one of the last pieces of legislation to become law before the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was defeated in a vote of no-confidence on March 25.

Nearly a decade in the works, the bill will establish a memorial to the Holocaust in the region of Ottawa, the capital.

"Canada is virtually alone among Western countries not to have a national monument to the Holocaust," the Canadian Jewish Congress noted in a statement. "This anomaly will now be rectified."

The bill received the support of all parties in Canada’s Parliament.

"The monument will help ensure the memory of the Holocaust is never lost," the federal government said in a statement. "It will also promote a better understanding of the historical events of the Holocaust and how they have affected Canadian history — an understanding that will benefit Canadians in every community across the country."

Appearing March 25 before a Senate committee reviewing the legislation, Bernie Farber, the Canadian Jewish Congress’ CEO, said the monument will have several purposes: to pay homage "to the thousands of Holocaust survivors who made Canada their adopted home after the Second World War; to honor those who perished, Jews and non-Jews alike; [and] to speak to the outstanding contribution of Canada’s military to the defeat of Nazism and to the righteous among the nations."

Above all, Farber said, the memorial "will serve as a place of contemplation about the evils of anti-Semitism, hate and all forms of racism."

Funds for the memorial will be raised privately. A competition will be held for design ideas.

"Holocaust survivors view this decision as a dramatic gesture of respect  and homage to all victims of Nazi brutality and persecution," Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said in a statement.

"By this act, Canada asserts its determination to insure that the lessons of the Holocaust are to be instilled in young people of today and in future generations, namely [that] unbridled hatred if left unchecked leads to unimaginable horrors and atrocities."

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