Hon. Alan Redway (Don Valley East):
Mr. Speaker, you will recall some three months ago Mrs. Mary Marko Elaskett visited Parliament Hill. Mrs. Haskett was born in Canada some 84 years ago. In 1915 at the age of six, Mrs. Haskett and her family were arrested and sent to an internment camp in northern Quebec called Spirit Lake.
Spirit Lake of course is no longer on any map of Canada. Mrs. Haskett was one of some 5,000 Canadians of Ukrainian origin who were rounded up and interned because they came from parts of Ukraine that at the time were controlled by the Austro-Hungarian empire, an empire with which Canada and its World War I allies were at war.
Although some 5,000 Canadians were treated in this fashion, there is no mention of it whatsoever in the history books of Canada. As far as Canadian history is concerned this never happened. There is no record of Spirit Lake or any other camps such as this ever existing.
When Mrs. Haskett came here for her visit it reminded me of a talk 1 had with another of my constituents who told me about the experiences of his father. His father, who was a Canadian with origins in the Austro-Hungarian empire, came to Canada before World War I. He too was arrested and interned.
This man had little formal education but he was hard working and had earned some money. He did not trust the banks. He decided to save his money. He put it into gold and not the bank. When he was interned he took his gold with him. Of course the guards at the internment camp said that he could not go into the camp with the gold and that if he gave it to them he would be given a receipt so he could claim it later, if he ever got out.
After World War I my constituent's father gave his receipt to the guards who took the receipt and went to get the gold. They came back saying that there was no gold. That did not happen just to one person, it happened to many people in World War I.
The son of this man, my constituent, investigated what had happened to his father's earnings, possessions and
gold. He found that the Bank of Canada had been keeping these things in trust for many years, not just for his father but for other Canadians.
Of course the Bank of Canada said on presenting the receipt he would be given the money with interest. Of course the guards took the receipt. The Bank of Canada said that was too bad and it would just have to sit on that money, letting it accumulate for the benefit of who knows whom. That happened not just to one person but to a great many Canadians.
I think it is understandable that my constituent, as the beneficiary of his father's estate, would expect to get his money back. I think it is understandable that Mrs. Haskett in coming to Parliament Hill wanted an apology, wanted the fact that she and 5,000 other Canadians like her actually should be recorded in Canadian history. There should be something in the history books of Canada about the fact that these events took place.
It is not an isolated incident. In fact the Prime Minister drew attention to that when he spoke on November 4, 1990 to the National Congress of Italian-Canadians. My friend the parliamentary secretary was there at that time.
At that time the Prime Minister said: "I want to discuss a particularly sad chapter in our history that directly affected some of you here today and that concerns all Canadians. I am speaking, of course, about the harassment and the internment of Canadians of Italian origin under the War Measures Act during World War II. It was not an isolated case, in fact it was part of a pattern of discrimination practised by the Government of Canada over a period of years against Chinese Canadians, Ukrainian Canadians and others. That Canadians were interned unjustly must never be forgotten", said the Prime Minister. "It is a matter of simple justice. It is in that spirit that we will proceed."
The Prime Minister went on in that address on November 4, 1990 to say, and I quote: "I am pleased to announce today that during this session of Parliament I will rise in the House of Commons and extend a formal apology to all members of the Italian community for this unspeakable act and to other Canadians who have suffered similar grievances".
June 14, 1993
Mr. Speaker, I do not have to tell you that the life of this Parliament is drawing to an end. Need I say more?
Topic: PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION