Minister Kenney issues statement on Raoul Wallenberg Day

Ottawa, January 16, 2010 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement commemorating Raoul Wallenberg Day on January 17:

”Raoul Wallenberg Day is an opportunity to remember the Holocaust and to pay tribute, not only to its victims, but also to its heroes. By doing so, we renew our commitment to fight against the evils of racism, discrimination, and anti-Semitism.

”The extermination of millions of Jewish people and others during World War II was a crime against all of humanity. Thousands, however, were saved by the efforts of courageous individuals such as Raoul Wallenberg.

”Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat and humanitarian who worked in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II and rescued Jews from the Holocaust. He is credited with saving the lives of more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews at the risk of his own life.

”On January 17, 1945, Raoul Wallenberg was captured by Soviet forces as the Soviet Union pushed the Nazis out of Hungary. He was not seen again.

”As we celebrate his legacy, we are compelled to remember the achievements of this great and courageous man – Canada’s first honourary citizen – as well as the lessons we can all draw from his example.

”His legacy – to act to combat hate and prejudice – is being continued by the Government of Canada through our full membership in the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF).

”Canada is committed to supporting the ITF’s efforts to further develop knowledge of the Holocaust, and to ensure that future generations understand both the Holocaust and the roots of anti-Semitism and racism.

”In addition, Canada takes a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism. Canada is not content to be an observer on the world stage. Rather, Canada is playing a leadership role in combating the new anti-Semitism.

”That is why our Government refused to participate in the Durban II conference, led the world in walking out on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he addressed the United Nations in September of 2009, and why the Prime Minister was selected to receive the Simon Wiesenthal International Leadership Award.

”I was deeply saddened and appalled when I learned last June about the shooting provoked by anti-Semitism at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. It was shocking to think that a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust could be the site of such a despicable act.

”That incident was an unwelcome reminder that the evils of anti-Semitism continue to exist in the world. It was also a tragic reminder of the crucial importance of combating the scourge of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

”As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I call on all Canadians to reject anti-Semitism, learn more about the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg, and be inspired by his heroism and selfless spirit.”