June 29, 1984 (32nd Parliament, 2nd Session)


Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)


Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, 1 thank the Hon. Leader of the Opposition for his good wishes. I will remember this place with no nostalgia but some kindness, and certainly I have been honoured to serve the people of Canada as best I could in this place for some years. I am very proud of it.
With respect to the matter that he raises, I put it to the Leader of the Opposition that he might want to associate himself with the response of the Government to the recommendations of the Task Force on Visible Minorities when we did express regrets at what had happened to the Canadians of Japanese ancestry on the occasion of the Second World War, and when we announced the setting up of a fund in order to promote racial equality in Canada.
If the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the New Democratic Party want to go that far, I think it would be a progressive step, and an encouraging one.
I am not sure what more the Hon. Leader of the Opposition would have in mind when he talks about redressing an historic wrong. There is no way in which we can relive the history of that period. In that sense, we cannot redress what was done. We can express regret collectively, as we have done.
If the Hon. Leader of the Opposition intends going further and indemnifying individual Canadians with sums of money, I think he should make it clear. I know that there is a fair amount of confusion in that. I would have respect for him if he suggested that, and made some provision for the many millions of dollars that would be involved, but the sum of money is not the main question. The main question is how many other historic wrongs have to be righted.
Even today we know that there are people living in Manitoba who have been deprived of their constitutional right since 1890, and who are deprived of a very real freedom of expression in that province. It is not of the same material order as the deprivation that the Japanese Canadians suffered after the war, but I think a deprivation of the spirit of a freedom is also worth some redress. Yet this Government has never suggested that they be given money. We have just suggested that we right the wrong which has been perpetrated in these recent months by a Conservative Government in Manitoba. I know that the Leader of the Opposition shares the regret that we on this side have for that. I just hope that his fellow Tories, if they are so anxious to right wrongs in the case of Japanese Canadians, will think of these wrongs and will do something to right them.

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