February 17, 2000 (36th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Irwin Cotler


Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I wish to share with my colleagues the concerns and aspirations that were expressed at the recent international conference on the Holocaust, held in Stockholm.
First, the dangers of racist hate speech, which in Bosnia and Rwanda took us down the road to ethnic cleansing and genocide. As the Supreme Court of Canada put it in upholding the constitutionality of anti-hate legislation, “The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers, it began with words”.
Second, the danger of remaining silent, of indifference to evil, be it the killing fields of Sierra Leone, Chechnya or Burundi, “Dans ce temps-ci, qui s'excuse, s'accuse”.
Third, the importance, as Sweden has demonstrated, of Holocaust and human rights education as an antidote to racism, xenophobia and hate.
Fourth, the struggle against impunity; of fidelity to the Nuremberg legacy of bringing war criminals to justice.
Finally, the inspiration of a Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish non-Jew who saved 100,000 Jews in the Holocaust, who showed that one person can make a difference, that each one of us in our daily lives can make the world a better place.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Stockholm International Conference
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